Toothpaste brand Crest will pull out of a joint initiative with the NFL to highlight breast cancer awareness, announced Crest’s parent company Procter & Gamble on Friday. The move comes as NFL officials continue to struggle with heightened scrutiny over their handling of domestic abuse.
Crest had planned to provide NFL players with pink mouth guards to wear during games as part of an initiative centered on Breast Cancer Awareness Month, in October. But Procter & Gamble said Friday it was dropping out of the campaign altogether.
“The brand has decided to cancel on-field activation with NFL teams,” the company said in a statement. Procter & Gamble added that it would still donate the $100,000 it already set aside for the American Cancer Society as part of the initiative.
The NFL responded to the decision, saying it would move forward with the campaign without Crest’s involvement. “We understand the ways the last week have impacted our partners, including Crest,” the league said in a statement. “Players will still have the option to wear pink gear, including mouth guards, as planned, this year.”
The NFL has been under a harsh spotlight in recent weeks as officials face accusations of mishandling several cases of domestic abuse by players in the league. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell received the brunt of the criticism after handing a two-game suspension as punishment to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was shown on video knocking his then-fiancée unconscious in an elevator. Goodell later extended that punishment to an indefinite suspension.
Other sponsors have also expressed concern over the NFL’s domestic violence troubles in recent weeks. On Tuesday, brewing company Anheuser-Busch expressed its concerns in a statement, saying it was “not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code.”
The Radisson hotel chain also announced this week that it was suspending its sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings after the team allowed running back Adrian Peterson, who was indicted on charges of child abuse, to continue playing in this week’s game. Peterson has since been suspended from team activities until his legal case is resolved.