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Triumph Through The Trials

November 20, 2010

Vick Back Better Than Ever

Michael Vick has found himself a star in the NFL again, but in a Eagles uniform.

The New Michael Vick

 

There couldn’t have been a better script written for the return of Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Michael Vick to the NFL.   Vick has made the right moves on, and off the field, and is quickly restoring his image and rebuilding his fan base.

Most people, including myself, thought when Vick was sentenced to 23 months of prison for dog fighting that his football career was over. This season Vick has turned many skeptics into believers.

 Last Monday Vick almost played perfect. He finished with 413 total yards and six touchdowns.

After the game Vick was asked if he thought it would be like this when he came back to the NFL?

 He humbly said, “No, I could never have envisioned this.”

Prior to prison, Vick was often criticized for being an undisciplined player, and for being outspoken and confrontational off the field.   Since his return to the NFL he has shown maturity, poise and class.

Early Tuesday morning, Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, the man who people feel is partially responsible for Vick’s play, smiled and said, “He’s playing the quarterback position very well.”

Then he added, “There’s a difference between that and just being a quarterback,”

During the warm-ups of Monday Night’s game there was a confrontation between the Eagles and Redskins players.

Inside the locker room after the confrontation with the Redskins, but before the teams went back out for the game, the Eagles were outraged. Players were yelling to each other, slapping walls pushing each other, and smacking pads with open palms. They felt they had been “disrespected.” and they wanted revenge.

Vick just smiled, and reassured them that it would all workout.

 They would get a small taste of revenge the first play of the game when Vick fired a perfect spiral into the stadium lights. The ball landed perfectly in Wide Receiver Deshawn Jackson’s hands. Redskins Strong Safety Laron Landry lunged to make the tackle and missed. Then Jackson ran untouched into the end zone.

“Everyone’s pulling for him, we want him to succeed” Eagles safety Quintin Mikell said about Vick. “When you have someone trying to put his life together, it makes you want to respond to him more and support him more.

MVP Talk?

Vick’s performance off the field has been just as impressive as his play on the field.  He has had MVP numbers and led the eagles to a 6-3 record, and has won every game he has started in this season, but has not boasted to the media, or the reporters who criticized him when he was found guilty in 2007. 

Instead he has humbled himself, and has let his play do the talking for him. He could have said something when Coach Andy Reid wanted to start Kevin Kolb over him at the beginning of the season, but he didn’t. He let it work itself out and look where it has got him.

Vick is quickly restoring his image, and fans everywhere are screaming his name, like in his days with Atlanta. Players like Vick send the right message to young athletes everywhere. Yes he  has made  mistakes, but he accepted his consequences, and is moving forward productively.

If Vick continues to conduct himself this way throughout the season, and his play continues at such a high level, then his image should be restored, and he should be a shoe in for Most Valuable Player award. What a story that would be, if a man whose career was supposed to be over is able to bounce back, and become the MVP of the league. I don’t even think Walt Disney could write a story book ending that good.

Far From a Golden Boy

November 15, 2010
Floyd Mayweather resting between the rounds of one his fights.

Mayweather resting between rounds.

Far From a Golden Boy

Though he has left his mark in the world of boxing, Floyd Mayweather has never been known as a golden boy, mainly because of his outspoken-confrontational-personality.  His recent encounters with the law didn’t help his case for role model of the year.

Mayweather skipped his first court date on eight legal counts related to a domestic dispute. He has been ordered to pay $31,000 bail and make a court appearance in January.

Mayweather, the Grand Rapids boxing star, has been free on a $3,000 bail since September 9.

Mayweather is accused of punching and kicking Josie Harris, mother of three of his children, and threatening to harm his two sons if they called 911, in an incident at Harris’ Las Vegas residence.

Mayweather, who in 2007 was the world’s third-highest-earning athlete, behind Tiger Woods and Oscar De La Hoya, faces charges of grand larceny and robbery, because he is alleged to have taken cell phones from his wife and children.  He is also accused of felony coercion, robbery, and misdemeanor domestic battery and harassment.

If convicted on all counts he could carry up to 34 years in prison.

Justice of the Peace Diana Sullivan rescheduled arraignment for Jan. 24 at Las Vegas Justice Court — the same day Roger Mayweather, the fighter’s uncle and trainer, is scheduled to go on trial at Clark County District Court.

Roger Mayweather is charged for assaulting and choking a female boxer he once trained.

The 33-year-old five-division world champion is undefeated in his professional career dating to 1996, but can’t seem to get it right outside of the ring.  He has been known for being an outspoken individual since he has came on the boxing scene, including making racial comments against fellow boxer Manny Pacquiao.

Restoring His Image

Okay sure being an outspoken knucklehead helped make a name for Mayweather, but now that he has established himself as one of the elite boxers in the sport today, but it is time that he makes some better decisions.

If he is not careful then he may be remembered for his antics, and negative encounters, rather than his accomplishments in the ring.

Mayweather needs to apologize publicly to his wife and fans. He also needs to apologize for the acts of his uncle, and let fans everywhere know that neither his behavior, nor his uncle’s is acceptable.  Next he needs to pay his bail, and make sure he goes to his court date on January 24.

Giving Sports a Bad Wrap

Sadly to say it is incidents like this one that give not just boxers , but sports figures a bad image.  If that was a blue-collar worker, do you think that he or she would be given another opportunity to appear in court?  I think not.

Our legal system gives athletes so many opportunities, and often let them off easy, so they continually abuse the system.

Athletes like Mayweather must recognize that whether he likes it or not, he has people watching him.  He must remember that with great power comes responsibility, and he is not only representing his image, but the image of all professional athletes.

Should I be who you want me to be?

November 6, 2010
Lebron James contemplating whether or not he will leave Cleveland.

Lebron James in deep thought

Lebron James is using his newest Nike commercial to try to save  his image. In the commercial James asks repeatedly what should I do? The commercial is an advertisement for his new basketball shoe. The commercial  is a  response to the criticism he received from everyone, after publically announcing he was leaving Cleveland in an hour long televised ESPN interview in July.

James teamed up with superstars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami in an all-out attempt to win a championship, something he thought the Cavaliers were still a long way from accomplishing.

The one-minute, 32-second commercial has James asking, “What should I do? Should I tell you how much fun we had,” as the huge “Witness” banner that hung on a downtown Cleveland building comes down in a simulated scene.

James is shown as a cowboy, a construction worker and, with Don Johnson, playing in a “Miami Vice” scene as he asks, “Should I try acting?”

James asks, “Should I have my tattoo removed” as he winces while pretending that it’s happening. Perhaps the most clever scene was when James asks, Should I tell you I am not a role model? And says, “Hi, Chuck,” referring to Charles Barkley, who criticized James for leaving the Cavaliers.

Success or Failure

This commercial angered some basketball fans, especially those in the northeast Ohio area. A lot of Ohioans are still very sensitive about James’ decision to leave the Cavaliers. Many feel the “Decision” was done the wrong way,and that James has done nothing, but antagonize Cleveland fans since he left. Personally I can understand the anger the loyal Cavalier fans are feeling, but this commercial is bigger than just Northeast Ohio.

This Nike ad is about rebuilding James’ fan base around the world. From a marketing standpoint this commercial is pure genius. James uses a little bit of humor and a whole lot of guts to respond to all his critics. He got his message across plain and simple. He knows that there was no decision that would have made everyone happy. If James would have stayed in Cleveland just to please others, then he would have  been untrue to himself and a coward. James obviously is content and is going to make decisions for himself and not for other people.

This campaign has integrated all aspects of communication into a pretty “fly” commercial. Now the question is, will it be enough to erase the bitter taste of the “Decision” out of fans mouths? In Ohio probably not, but for many others it is probably a start.

In this commercial Nike was able to effectively segment James’ target audience (James’ fan base), create a catchy advertising campaign, deliver James message to all his skeptics and my bet is they will probably sell a lot of shoes too.

For those who don’t like the commercial simply because they are bitter towards James it is time to move on. Yes move on! Don’t be blinded by your thirst for vengeance, it is a great tactic hands down!

The League Lays the Wood

October 27, 2010

The NFL is Hitting It’s Players

The NFL has finally laid the wood on its players for illegal hits. The N.F.L. wants to give players and teams fair warning that it plans to ratchet up discipline for violations of players’ safety rules, the league spokesman Greg Aiello said. Players, coaches and teams were told Wednesday that future disciplinary actions will be harsher, setting the stage for possible suspensions. James Harrison, the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker knocked two Cleveland Browns out of their game with helmet-to-helmet hits — one was legal; the other was a penalty the officials missed, the league said — was fined the most, $75,000, because of previous trouble. Earlier this season, he was fined $5,000 for slamming Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young to the ground while sacking him.

Harrison and his coach, Mike Tomlin, insisted Harrison’s hits were clean and that he should not be fined. Before the fines were announced, Tomlin stood by his remarks, but said he supported harsher penalties and rules changes to ensure player safety.

“I think it is the proper initiative that the N.F.L. has,” Tomlin said. “I think we need to safeguard the men that play this game to the best of our abilities and make it as safe as we can. I’m a proponent of player safety and whatever rule or rule adjustments we need to make to make it safer.”

New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather, was also made an example of. Merriweather launched himself into Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap as Heap tried to make a catch. The end result was a fine of $50,000. Finally the Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson, hit Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson so hard both were concussed, was fined $50,000.

Earlier Tuesday, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick raised an issue that also complicates the N.F.L.’s crackdown. The fact the matter is there has to be consistency from the officiating standpoint. Harrison’s hit on Browns receiver Mohamed Massoquoi was a foul, Anderson said Monday, but it was not flagged.

“There are a lot of gray areas in all those calls, so we have to learn what those are and hope that the officials call them consistently from week to week, which, that’s an issue, too,” Billichick said.

 

Hitting the  Public Relations Side

I personally feel this is great for the league from a public relations standpoint. It shows that the league cares about the safety more than competetition. It could help the case that football is not just another barbaric sport, but the question is can the league really enforce this?

In a letter to each of the players, Ray Anderson, the N.F.L.’s executive vice president for football operations, warned that “future offenses will result in an escalation of fines up to and including suspension.”

The fact the league only fined these  players  and didn’t suspend them after one of the N.F.L.’s most troubling days makes me wonder whether the leagues bite will be as big as its bark.

If the league doesn’t enforce this and make those gray areas clear then it could negatively impact its image.  Can’t you see the media making the  NFL look like a league where the players run wild and there is no order.  Fortunately for the NFL, Roger Godell is commissioner so I don’t think enforcement will be too much of an issue.

New England Says Goodbye to an Era

October 19, 2010

Goodbye to an Era

Moss and Brady

Recently the New England Patriots said goodbye to the Randy Moss era.  The patriots traded the pro bowl receiver back to the team that originally drafted him, the Minnesota Vikings.

It was said that Moss was unhappy with his contract, and that he wanted another one, which the patriots were not willing to give him.  There were also rumors Moss, quarterback Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick were having confrontations before the trade.  Patriots quarterback shot down that rumor about an altercation with him and Moss saying,

“No, certainly not, I don’t know why these things come about, but they do, I think it’s just a competitive media culture out there now and certainly between Randy and I, I love the guy as a person and as a player. I don’t think I’ve ever had an altercation with a teammate.”

“Randy really knows how I feel about him,” Brady said the next day in an interview for Patriots All-Access on WBZ-TV. “I love him as a guy, as a person, as a player. He did a lot of great things for this team.”

Moss also handled the situation like a professional saying,

“Being able to come from a place such as New England, having a great Hall of Fame quarterback in Tom Brady, a Hall of Fame coach in Bill Belichick and then being able to come to a Hall of Fame quarterback in Brett (Favre), what else can you ask for?”

Moss also spoke highly of Coach Bill Belichick, saying that the coach gave him an opportunity that not many were willing to give him. With Belichick speaking highly of Moss earlier in the day, the idea that the two had such a confrontation seems like what my kindergarten teacher called a “tall tale”.

Coach Belichick showed no sore fallings either saying

“Our team, organizationally, we’ve had conversations and obviously are comfortable with the trade. We wish Randy the absolute best. He’s been a player I’ve had a good relationship with. He’s very honest, when I’ve asked him questions about football and personnel and things like that. He’s been very helpful to me personally. He’s been very professional and I think a good teammate and a good contributing member of this team.

Media Relations 101

Everyone in the sports world should take notes from the New England Patriots organization.  Obviously there had to be some sort of controversy if you’re going to trade one of the biggest deep threat receivers the game has ever seen, but all parties involved humbled themselves, bit their tongues and handled the situation with class.

The media loves controversy, reporters are like parasites, and they anxiously wait for the next person they can feed on.  Though they attempted taint the reputation of Moss and the Patriots, neither party allowed that to happen.  They were honest about the situation, focused on the positive and respected each other.  This is an example of media relations should be executed.  Neither the New England Patriots nor Randy Moss dropped the ball.

Lebron Does it Again

October 14, 2010

 

Lebron Plays the Race Card on the Media or Does the Media Play the Race Card on Lebron?

After his hour long ESPN special last July, Lebron James has been heavily criticized nonstop for his actions.  Fans, former players and team owners have said he is narccistic, selfish, a quitter, a traitor and the list goes on and on.  The beef with James was not so much what he did (leaving the cavaliers) ,but how he did it. He publicly humiliated an entire city he was affiliated with for the last seven years.  This is just terrible media relations.

From a public relations standpoint James has set the standard for how not to handle a major decision.  To add insult to injury, James and his business manager Maverick Carter recently had an interview with CNN on September 30 where they only dug a deeper hole for themselves.

James is being criticized because he said raced played a role in his decision to leave Cleveland. Or did he say that?  James did not say that was his primary reason for leaving the Cavaliers. As I  watched his interview, it was my perception that  he was saying that race is a relevant issue in many instances.  He did not say that was the reason he left, or the Cavaliers fans are racist. He was saying that in this day and age race is a factor, and I don’t think it is fair for the media to portray that as his message.

Now I am not going to let James off the hook completely.  Carter said he believed raced played a role in some of the dislike for James, in the aftermath of his move to the heat. In James interview he was simply trying to answer a question honestly, and at the same time trying to back his business advisor.  However, James should have made it clear that he meant race plays a role in general rather than giving the media room to imply it was the leading factor in his situation.  This just helped contribute to James media relations problem.

Mark Kriegel of fox sports said,

“You see it in entertainment. You see it in sports. You see it, of course, in every race, creed and color. The problem is fame and wealth of a degree leaves a young person hopelessly out of touch. It happened to Mike Tyson. It happened to Lindsay Lohan. It’s happening to Lebron James.”

Quotes like this are what we call karma. Because of James poor communication and execution of the “Decision” the media continually tries to find ways to make James look like a jerk.

Though I feel bad for James, I can’t completely sympathize with him. If James would have followed some simple steps I could almost guarantee he would not be taking as much heat from everyone.

James should have first addressed his teammates and organization and been honest about wanting to leave Cleveland. Second he should have then told the City of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio that he had plans to leave.  Ohioans would have still been angry, but at least they could have respected his honesty. Third James and his communication team should have spoke with Carter about what to say in the interview before hand.  This might have prevented such a media field day such as this from occurring.

James must remember that although he is one of the greatest basketball players and athletes to ever play, he still is not above media relations.  If he continues to dismiss people and ignore his key publics, then he will continue to lose popularity and continue to be targeted by the media. Now about Maverick Carter saying that race was an issue, I can’t debate that because it could or could not be true. Besides there is really no accurate way to measure it because of how James’ free agency situation turned into a media relations disaster. Here is a newsflash Carter, black or white people don’t like being made a fool of. So the next time you go ahead and play the race card make sure you didn’t play the jerk card on your previous hand.

Jets Front Row and Center

September 30, 2010

New York Jets Front and Center

The New York Jets have been in the center of the media this season. Unfortunately for the Jets it has been for their actions off the field, rather than their play on the field.

The Jets caused a media uproar around the league because of comments  directed at  female TV reporter Ines Sainz.  Sainz was in the Jets locker room during their training camp ,and the flirtatious talk between her and the players went a bit too far. 

The league realized if action was not taken, they would have a public relations disaster and could hurt their female fan base. The incident sparked controversial comments from players around the league. 

After the league investigated the situation the Jets decided to start a new training program to remind each team and player how to treat female reporters.  The Jets owner Woody Johnson will underwrite the program, which will begin this season and be presented to rookies at the beginning of each season.

The NFLPA delivered a statement that read ,

 “Comments and behavior that are offensive to any group or individual is not tolerated and are not reflective of our membership.”

                                                           Edwards Tops it Off

If the locker room incident didn’t  draw enough attention to the Jets, then their receiver  Braylon Edwards sealed the deal. Edwards recently got arrested for driving under the influence.  Edwards did not do himself or the team any favors when he was asked to comment on the situation and replied, “There will be plenty of time to talk. I’ll address everyone.” 

Is he serious? He will address everyone? In how many cities is he going to make himselflook bad? How many teams is he going to make look bad? Why not just wear a sign that says, I could care less about my actions or who they affect.

If you don’t want to give a statement right now about your actions Edwards, I can’t argue with that, it is your right, but maybe next time you should not do anything that is going to require a statement right now.

We are talking about a guy who is no stranger to trouble off the field. We all remember his bar fight with one of Lebron James close friends last season, which basically was the final straw that sent him to the Jets and ended his rollercoaster relationship with the Cleveland  Browns. Until this past Sunday, Edwards had caught more cases than  total receptions this season.   Okay maybe an exaggeration, but just barely.

After two weeks of NFL action the Jets were the only team that had fewer than 100 receiving yards from its receivers. Braylon only had 6 receptions for 54 yards.  You would think an underachieving receiver in his sixth season, who has never quite lived up to his potential, would be a little self conscious and make better decisions.

But I guess if he doesn’t mind losing his starting position on Sunday, and getting a costly fine, then it really doesn’t matter huh?Luckily for him, he came out strong Sunday with an explosive 67- yard TD reception, otherwise who knows what the Jets would be saying now?

All I know is at some point Edwards actions will catch up to him. Maybe it will be when his contract is up with the Jets, and other teams are questioning whether or not they want a veteran receiver, who is selfish, pampered, and spoiled, with stats that are mediocre at best.

Someone needs to have a talk with Edwards.  Let him know he is now a veteran player and needs to behave like one.  In a few years Edwards will be in his 30’s and his 6 ft. 3 in. 220 lb body will slowly begin to deteriorate. Now what team is going to want a receiver who they will have questions about play on the field, and also  decision making off the field? 

He is making his team look bad and himself look worse.  If he doesn’t start catching more TD’s, and fewer cases, then he may be looking for a new team sooner than he thinks because the Jets have enough media problems without Edwards.