Defense may win Super Bowls, but the National Football League's strategy for media containment is all about going on the offensive.
After the New York Times published an extensive report Thursday questioning the league's concussion research, the NFL responded by unleashing a flurry of content across the Internet challenging the story.
In addition to purchasing promoted tweets and publishing a lengthy rebuttal on its own site, the league ran ads alongside the Times story that directly disputed it:
The ads encouraged readers to click through (and away from the Times article) to "learn more" about how the NFL is advancing player safety through various rule changes.
In a statement to The Huffington Post on Friday, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the ads were part of a "multiplatform strategy."
Per McCarthy, that strategy included using promoted tweets, Facebook and the league's "own organic assets such as the Twitter account that we have here at the NFL."
"And the reason we did the buy was [if] the Times wasn’t willing to provide its readers with the facts, we did," he said. "And we wanted readers to have immediate and unfiltered access to information about all the ways that we’ve been improving the game."
The Times published a response to the NFL's point-by-point rebuttal of the original article, standing by its reporting.
On Thursday, the New York Times Sports section also released a series of tweets refuting the NFL's critique.
The NFL ads appeared to have ceased running on the New York Times' website by midday Friday, but a spokeswoman for the paper told The Wall Street Journal they were still in circulation. She declined to share the terms of the advertising agreement that made the ads possible.