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Last week, Deadspin.com started reporting that Minnesota Vikings quarterback, 41-year-old Brett Favre is the new Tiger Woods/Ben Roethlisberger. Allegedly he’s been sending racy pictures and text messages to female Jets employees.

According to ESPN, the NFL has expedited an investigation into the incidents and could punish Favre under the personal conduct policy and in a somber message to his fellow Vikings yesterday before the big defeat, he apologized for generating so much negative attention.

 

Brett Favre's scandal with Jennifer Sterger

Try explaining this one away...

 

He did not, however, own up to anything.

Public relations Strike one.

And he definitely did not deny anything.

Public relations Strike two.


Can we just think back, please, to last year when Grady Sizemore of the Cleveland Indians was revealed to have been sending racy pictures to his “girlfriend,” that Playboy Bunny, Brittany Binger. The pictures went public and spread so fast that Sizemore’s knee-jerk reaction was to threaten Deadspin for defamation of character. As far as I’m concerned, it wasn’t defamation… at all. But I can definitely see why he’d be upset.

However, Sizemore issued a statement just a few hours after the photos were released, owning up to his mistake. We’re pretty good at owning up to mistakes here in Cleveland. It’s a weekly occurrence.

First of all, these females being flirted with have an agenda. It doesn’t take a genius to realize this… or maybe it does. Anyway, for those with less-than-genius brain capacities: they want publicity, not you.

Especially in the case of Favre. I mean, going after a reporter… stupid. Just stupid. And Jenn Sterger? COME ON Brett. She’s a glorified stripper. Yes, beautiful and appealing… I’ll give her that, but she’s just a few steps away from trashy.

Where’s Jenn in all this? Oh, well she’s throwing Favre under the bus. Big surprise? No. Freakin. Way.

This is huge for her. An opportunity to promote her webpage, online diary and blog. A woman not in the spotlight, would probably be flattered by Favre’s advancements… probably weary because he’s married. But a woman who craves money and attention, who sells herself based on her sex appeal, will milk this for all it’s worth.

Secondly… What is going on with these male athletes? They’re paying top dollar for advisors and for some reason, they can’t keep their hands off women who aren’t their wives.

Deanna Favre is gorgeous… by the way.

According to The New York Post, Deanna has suspected Brett’s infidelity before. She stayed with him through his Vicodin addiction, drinking problems and rehab stint. She also followed him from state to state with their two daughters as he changed teams.

It seemed as if Favre was trying to mend his public appearance.

  • American pride Wrangler jeans commercials
  • Sticking in the NFL for his team
  • Charity work…

Favre didn’t take this statistic into consideration: 45 percent of NFL fans are women.

As reported by ABC news, the NFL is a league that cares about what women think. Really now. Someone needs to communicate that to the athletes. Because I’m not buying a jersey until I know the last name represents an individual who has respect for women.

Just because the NFL creates pink jerseys doesn’t mean they care about what women think.

It’s time to hold athletes accountable.

It would behoove Favre to learn from Tiger Woods, and NOT hide from the media. Get it out now while you still have some dignity left.

Athletes routinely find themselves in a tornado of bad publicity when something happens within their marital lives. And fans can’t get enough. On a rare occasion, an athlete surprises us with a fabulous gesture to their loved one, but more often than not we’re overwhelmed with news of gold diggers and cheaters.

Lawsuits filed are public record and that’s how the stories get started, so I’m wondering if some of these personal issues can’t be solved behind closed doors.

Reputation management is hard enough without having to manage perceptions during a court battle, especially with the media’s interpretations commonly referred to as Rumor Central. It’s so hard to battle rumors that go viral, and a lot of times an athlete’s actions concerning a loved one are misconstrued to flatter network agenda.

As a public relations practitioner, would I advise my client/athlete to avoid publicity when it comes to their personal relationships? I think so. I think I’d try very hard to avoid (especially untrue) negative interpretations at all costs. Here’s what some famous athletes are currently revealing:

Kudos

Phil Mickelson celebrates with his wife after winning the Masters in April of 2010

Mickelson shares a moment with his wife, Amy

Women around the country had glazed eyes when Phil Mickelson won the Masters Tournament with his sickly wife at his side. Phil gets a big Kudos award. Here’s a man who truly loves his wife, you could just tell by looking at him and hearing him talk about her. That was beautiful. Kudos for letting the media into such an intimate moment. Phil showed everyone that there are extremely wealthy, professional athletes who are able to maintain a lasting relationship.

According to NBA Fanhouse, Mavericks star Tim Thomas will be leaving his career behind to tend to his ailing wife. It’s not like he’s taking a financial hit here in possibly retiring early, but he, like Michelson, has decided to put his family first. Kudos.

Unavoidables

Tiger Woods. Sorry dude (a nice word for the cornucopia of words I could pull to describe him), but you totally messed up. My opinion mirrors that of almost every practitioner and fan so I’m not going to beat a dead horse with a nine-iron. Your long-winded silence and creepy commercials say enough. No PR genius could save you even if they tried.

Chris Bosh just signed a contract with the Miami Heat to be the second of the Three Musketeers, erm, I mean a forward-center. He also just proposed to his long-time girlfriend. While there’s so much commotion surrounding the Heat, people are still gossiping about this engagement. Why now, after such a long year together, has she decided to marry him? She must be a gold-digger. Come on Bosh, did you really think people wouldn’t notice that thing on her finger? Time to stand up for your woman… publicly.

Oh. My. Goodness

I said earlier that I would go to great lengths to prevent the media from intervening in personal business. Dwight Howard thought he was doing this when he placed a gag order on his ex-girlfriend and “baby’s-momma,” Royce Reed, after their separation. According to Fanhouse, in the agreement, Reed was not to reveal personal information about their relationship to the media. TMZ got a hold of some (arguably trivial) information (that can no longer be found) and as of a few days ago, Howard is placing the blame on Reed. She now faces a lawsuit with a substantial price-tag of $500 million.

a. Does Dwight Howard really need $500 million?

b. Who is creating more drama here? Howard or Reed?

Now, Howard, at least to me, looks like the jerk. As far as I’m concerned, anything Reed said (which apparently wasn’t that damaging) couldn’t top a $500 million “shut-up” lawsuit. Howard: if you don’t want the media’s attention, solve this problem behind closed doors. Put your family first: save your son the embarrassment someday by cleaning up this relationship.

This past year, a few idiot athletes have graced front pages and captured so much ridiculous attention. All of these athletes had choices. And in the words of a Templar Knight from Indiana Jones: They Chose Poorly.

Michael Phelps got caught smoking pot. Delonte West was arrested for speeding on his Spyder while carrying three loaded weapons. Ben Roethlisberger is facing multiple rape charges. Alex Rodriquez was found to have been taking steroids. Michael Vick was allowed back into the NFL. Tiger Woods was exposed and LeBron James left the people of Cleveland angry, depressed and disappointed.

Most of these athletes have done some reputation management since their debacles, while others continue to surprise the media and fans. LeBron James for example, continues to define his version of “loyalty” to the baffled fans of Cleveland.

This guy needs a new PR team. Or a new life coach. Or both.

I’m not going to get into the actual “Decision,” because if you’re not from the area, the drama is just something you get to hear about on ESPN. It’s hard to argue that James’ decision-delivery was unprofessional. From a public relations standpoint, it doesn’t get much worse. For years James prided himself on being a hometown hero, a regular guy. He maintained a flawless image for so long until…

LeBron James shows off his support for the Cleveland Indians by wearing a Yankees cap to the 2007 playoff game against New York (Cleveland won the series).

LeBron shows off his support for Cleveland...

The infamous Indians/New York Yankees playoff game where he wore a Yankees hat. He also chummed it up with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on the sidelines of a Browns/Cowboys game, while also wearing another NY Yankees cap.

This past weekend for the OSU/Miami game, James was spotted in the Akron Valley and it was rumored that he was ‘booed’ all the way back to his castle-of-a-home. He was supposed to have gone to the OSU game to support Terrelle Pryor, whom he mentors, but decided against it. Gee, big surprise, right?

“Some Buckeye,” as WaitingForNextYear blog writer Scott said. You got that right. Some Buckeye. I almost wish he’d stop pretending to care. Thank goodness for James’ Bike-a-Thon event. It seems to be the only worthwhile thing tying him to the Northeast Ohio region.

So what should/would a real Buckeye do?

A real Buckeye would continue to “support” the people he once supported.  A good person, friend and mentor should brave any crowd to show loyalty. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Pryor take James’s advice on handling life in the spotlight, but the gesture is what really matters.

As a PR student and future practitioner I’d like to say to LeBron: you really need to stop getting so defensive when people from Cleveland rain on your parade. You embarrassed the city and left your fans in the worst way possible. You should have told the Cavaliers about your “Decision” prior to going on air, after deciding if that whole display of disloyalty on ESPN was necessary. Whoever told you that your method of delivering such devastating news was acceptable, needs some coaching themselves. Your once flawless reputation as a kind-hearted kid from Akron, Ohio will be tarnished forever, regardless of how many championship rings you acquire. Whoever coached you on what to say in “The Decision” was so far off track…

  • “I’ve done so many great things for the team.” (Oh, excuse me!)
  • “For me it’s not about sharing. You know, it’s about everybody having their own spotlight and then just doing what’s best for the team.” (Translation: you come first… then the team. Watch out Miami Heat!)

The debate was never over whether or not James’ decision was reasonable, it was the act in which he delivered the news. Following the event, as discussed, he bailed on Pryor, and after the Bike-a-Thon, he would not accept one single question from the media. Avoidance won’t get you anywhere in this business or this city.

Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban agreed too, today on a radio interview in Dallas, Texas.

“LeBron has every right to go wherever and do whatever, whatever team he wants to,” Cuban said. “Going to the Heat was his choice, those guys working together. I don’t even have a problem with the three of them working together, as long as they follow all of the NBA rules, which I think they did.

“Where I think LeBron made a mistake, was in how he did it. I don’t even have a problem that he had the TV show. But it turned out to be the largest public humiliation in the history of sports. He humiliated the organization; he humiliated the state of Ohio, the city of Cleveland.’

As a fan I’d like to say: have fun playing 12 minutes a game and not achieving triple-doubles or MVP status ever again. You’re going to be sharing the stage, Mr. James, with two other excellent athletes. A “King” doesn’t share his thrown. I hope you enjoyed that Jesus-like monument-of-a-poster in downtown Cleveland. Never again will a city throw itself at you like Cleveland did.

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