- - Tuesday, December 5, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In New York, of all places — the media capital of the world — you would think that the landmark NFL franchise would have a clue about the media landscape in 2017.

Not the New York Giants, though. They handled the benching of two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning like a bunch of rubes from 1950. And it cost them. Big-time.

People lost their jobs — not because of the goal they had in mind, the end of the Manning era, but how they handled it. Coach Ben McAdoo was fired Monday, as well as longtime general manager and Super Bowl team builder Jerry Reese.

Given the Giants’ dismal record this year — just two wins — those heads might have rolled anyway when the season was over. But it didn’t have to be such a publicly embarrassing bloodletting.

This could have been avoided if owner John Mara and the Giants brass had realized this is the 21st century and it is moving quickly and you better have a plan to present publicly for your actions — football or otherwise.

When will sports executives realize that it is in their best interests and the interests of their teams to include the professionals who make a living in the public perception business at the highest levels of their decisions?

Why wouldn’t Mara or Reese, for that matter, have someone in the organization who understands the volatile world of social media and public relations and ask them, “We want to find a way to exit the Eli Manning Era. What’s the best way for us to do that?”

And then listen to them.

If an influential, high-ranking media relations person — a competent one, not one who types up game notes and spies on reporters interviewing team members — had been part of the Eli Manning process, it’s likely the billboards outside MetLife Stadium criticizing the team for benching Manning would never have been put up, or the public humiliation of former Giants players ripping their team for the Manning benching would not likely have occurred.

And Mara could have possibly spared himself his public declaration of failure. “It’s really been the perfect storm this year,” he told reporters. “Everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong so far this season. And it’s just one of those things you have to live through, and suck it up, and make whatever changes you have to make and go on.”

No, you don’t have to suck it up. You can manage it.

As distasteful as it may be for coaches, general managers and team executives, they would be doing themselves, their owners and their fans a favor in today’s atmosphere to make public perception very much a part of their decision-making process — not the one driving their decisions, but how to best present them.

The Giants debacle — a public shaming for an NFL marquee franchise — should be a textbook example for the need for perception input. You can’t dismiss it anymore. Look at the damage that was done by the pathetic mishandling of the Manning exit.

The time has come for coaches to realize you can no longer ignore the noise, especially since today your players are often part of that noise on social media. Unless you are the exception to the rule — Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots — you can’t dismiss public perception anymore. It will affect you, your job, your team and what you are trying to accomplish.

This is not having the fans in the stands dictate team decisions. This is not, as the late, great NBA coach Johnny Kerr once said, “If a coach starts listening to the fans, he winds up sitting next to them.”

This is a case of how to best present to the fan base a major decision that could, if it goes off the rails, take up thousands of dollars, time and good will for you and your team, based on how it is perceived. This is a coach calling in the high-ranking team official trusted with its perception and telling him what he wants to do, and asking how best to present it.

The Washington Redskins, of course, can ignore this advice. This is only for curable teams. The Redskins are terminal when it comes to perception.

This doesn’t just apply to football. It’s also in particular important for baseball teams, where the manager meets with the media before and after every game. We’ve seen in Washington with the Nationals how those interactions could affect the perception of the team with the fans — and the owners, who, when it comes to the Lerner family, are the same thing.

I can assure you that new manager Dave Martinez is going to need some help — professional help, with influence and impact within the organization

Today, when someone refers to something as a “media controversy,” then it’s a controversy.

Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver podcast network.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide