In September, with his league consumed by controversy and staggering beneath the weight of bad publicity, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell appointed Anna Isaacson as Vice President of Social Responsibility.
It was a move designed, in part, to head off detractors – after all, in the wake of the Ray Rice domestic violence case, Goodell had sheepishly admitted that no female NFL employees had helped him determine an appropriate suspension for the Ravens’ back. The league decreed Rice would get a two-game ban, which had critics howling, and left the commissioner admitting he had been too lenient.
“We didn’t have the right voices at the table,” Goodell said. “We need to get better expertise.”
Isaacson’s promotion (she had previously served as the NFL’s President of Community Affairs and Philanthropy) was certainly a step in the right direction – especially since the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports had recently given the league a C-minus for gender hiring practices, the worst of any major sports league. It was also very publicly announced, which suggests the NFL knew a major overhaul was in order.
And while the league is prominently patting itself on the back, one woman has been busy building an empire. Denise White has helped steer the careers of NFL stars Patrick Peterson and DeSean Jackson, and kept the likes of Brandon Marshall from self-destructing beneath the spotlight. Very quietly, she’s made a fortune, and earned a much-deserved reputation: She’s the first person most players call when they find themselves facing a potential suspension…or worse.
Yet, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve never heard her name.Until now. In the December issue of Men’s Journal, contributing editor Paul Solotaroff profiles White, and her rise from Miss USA contestant to NFL power player. You can read his full piece now at MensJournal.com