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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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September 16th, 2014
06:28 PM ET

Could NFL scandals alienate female fan base?

(CNN) – The National Football League is a $10 billion a year industry that attracts millions of fans around the world.

So it's no wonder the league is scrambling to recover from what's been an embarrassing, and perhaps even costly start to the 2014 season, thanks to back-to-back scandals involving two of the NFL's marquee players.

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who was indicted last week for allegedly abusing his son, has reportedly been investigated for child abuse in the past. Child Protective Services investigated Peterson last year for an incident involving another one of his sons, who was just four years old at the time, according to CNN affiliate KHOU. No charges were filed.

In an emotional statement released yesterday, Peterson denied he was a child abuser and said he only meant to discipline his kids.

But many are wondering why, given the seriousness of the charges, Peterson will still be allowed to take the field again on Sunday, particularly given how badly the league fumbled its handling of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.

Rice was suspended for the season, only after a video came out showing him viciously hitting his then-fiancée. Fans, players, and members of the media, like ESPN's Hannah Storm, questioned why the league was so slow to give Rice the stiff arm.

"I spent this week answering seemingly impossible questions about the league's biggest stars. Mom, why did he do that? Why isn't he in jail? Why didn't he get fired? And yesterday why don't they even have control of their own players, so here's a question. What does all of this mean for the future. What does it mean for female fans whose dollars are so coveted by the NFL, who make up an estimated 45%of the NFL's fan base," Storm said Sunday.

Could these vivid images of violence and the NFL's reaction alienate female fans, and ultimately hurt the league's bottom line?

CNN's Cristina Alesci reports.

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