As someone who worked in Division I college athletics and have been involved with pro sports on other levels, I’m familiar with resources available to anyone that wants to make a good impression when they speak with the media.
From coaches to athletes, the last few weeks (and prior) have shown that they’re either not taking advantage of in-house or outsourced media training or they just don’t care how they come off in public. After further review …
• Brady balks again — He has five rings and is one of, if not the best professional quarterback in the history of the NFL, but Tom Brady must go into interviews better prepared to take the heat when he’s questioned about one of his buddies and confidants. His most recent media stumble was with WEEI 93.7 Boston’s Kirk and Callahan show during which he was reportedly asked three times about his trainer Alex Guerrero. Guerrero’s training is, shall we say, considered unconventional, and frequently controversial, but Brady believes in him and has gone to the mat for him time and again. I admit that I’d also be frustrated if broadcasters from a station with which I had a regular spot harped on something I didn’t want to discuss, but as an athlete of Brady’s stature, he has to expect and be prepared for anything. You have to have a sentence in your pocket to end the conversation without leaving in a huff and perpetuating Guerrero’s often-disputed image. Brady could have said something like “I appreciate that people want to know more about Alex and why he travels with the Patriots at times and doesn’t at others, but it’s not my place to discuss the whys and hows it came to be.” Instead, Brady abruptly ended the conversation. It made for another Brady-Guerrero talking point for sports talk which I’m sure neither want, not to mention the New England Patriots. Breathe in, breathe out, then answer. He could also attempt to swerve to a different chat lane. But by all means, don’t hang up and give the media something salacious to talk about the next 24 or more hours.
• Urban news dump — Ohio State’s suspended head football coach Urban Meyer was likely told that his emotionless comments about his suspension didn’t go over well beyond Columbus and in many cases, among Buckeyes fans. So on Friday after 5 p.m., he released a statement on Twitter in which he said that he took “relationship violence” very seriously, followed by other things about himself and the football program. At the end of the comment he apologized to Courtney Smith, the ex-wife of fired assistant coach Zach Smith who was accused of domestic violence more than once and kept on Meyers’ staff.
If you want the public to think you’re sorry — if you want to sound like you mean what you say — you mention the alleged victim and speak the words “domestic violence” at the beginning of the statement, not at the end. The latter comes off as insincere at best. If you’re not remorseful and you don’t want to act remorseful, don’t say anything. The first presser and subsequently released report said plenty, which made the Friday news dump even less believable.
• French faux pas — The head of the French Tennis Federation, which hosts the French Open, announced that the one-piece suit that superstar Serena Williams wore during this year’s tournament, would be banned. Williams wore the outfit to help circulation and avoid blood clots that plagued her for the last few years and most recently. after she gave birth to her first child. One of the most celebrated athletes of our time, some called the ban racist, gender bias, and others labeled it short-sighted. Regardless, it came off as a bad look for French Open leadership. But Williams took the high road and addressed the ban before it could blow up any further before the start of the U.S. Open. She said she wasn’t planning to wear the catlike-suit again, anyway and expressed respect for tournament president Bernard Guidicelli.