The New York Jets have an image crisis and we have the solution. Their owner, Woody Johnson, a descendant of the Johnson & Johnson founders (a family company!), can’t be happy with how his $635 million investment appears in the news media.
First there was Rex Ryan’s foul language on Hard Knocks, then the allegedly “harassed” Mexican TV reporter, then the Braylon Edwards DUI incident, and most recently, news of Brett Favre sending crotch shots to Jets employee Jenn Sterger.
We spoke to Jason Maloni, VP of Levick Strategic Communication’s Crisis and Litigation Team, and Chair of their Sport & Entertainment practice, and he pointed out an interesting dichotomy.
The Jets certainly have behaviour issues, but he “has no indications” they’ve truly been substantially worse than any other collection of young, football-playing millionaires. Rather he points to the Jets’ having a brighter spotlight.
Combine the constant scrutiny of the New York media with Johnson’s penchant for acquiring high profile players – Brett Favre, LaDanian Tomlinson, Mark Sanchez, Braylon Edwards, and Santonio Holmes – and storylines are sure to follow. Throw in Rex Ryan’s boisterous personality, and there’s probably no team in the league that invites as much publicity as the Jets.
(For example, had Deadspin found similar photos of, say, a Tampa Bay linebacker, no one would care. In fact, Deadspin might not even bother publishing them.)
So how do the Jets reconcile an apology with an insistence that things aren’t as bad as they seem.
First, Maloni said, the best course of action regarding Favre specifically is to simply say the team is cooperating with the NFL investigation.
As for their overall image, Maloni has three pieces of advice.
- Owner Woody Johnson needs to speak about what it means to the Jets. emphasise that the organisation stands for a certain kind of behaviour. Explain that he’s addressed the deviant behaviour, and ensure that from this point forward he expects the Jets to only appear in the media for the good causes in which they partake.
- Speaking of good causes stress the organisation’s charity work and commitment to the community that doesn’t get picked up by the media.
- Rex Ryan needs to deliver a similar message. He must address the cursing, first by not swearing during this particular speech, and second by explaining that although he has a habit of using foul language, it doesn’t get in the way of the high expectations he has for his team’s character.
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