Crafting a statement with integrity during a crisis when you’re ‘the bad guy’


We noted here a couple of days ago that the National Football League Players Association planned to appeal Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s double suspension from his job. Even money he’s going to win — on the issue of double jeopardy.

Most people surely agree he deserves to be fired and only reinstated, if at all, after some serious counseling and significant time abuse free in his marriage to Janay Palmer.

The NFLPA is a union, headed by Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, right. It’s true that any five of its players make more money than an entire autoworkers’ local, but that’s an issue for another day. This is the union’s job — insure that an employer treats its members fairly and legally.

It therefore had the unenviable task of appealing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s — and the Ravens’ — firing of Rice and banning him from the NFL. In the national lexicon, there is no larger villain right now than Ray Rice, with Vikings running back Adrian Peterson close behind.

Here, thanks to flagging by my EMA colleague Fran Nichols, is what the NFLPA said:

NFLPA STATEMENT ON APPEAL OF RAY RICE SUSPENSION

Today, the NFL Players Association formally filed an appeal of the indefinite suspension of Ray Rice by the NFL. This action taken by our union is to protect the due process rights of all NFL players.

The NFLPA appeal is based on supporting facts that reveal a lack of a fair and impartial process, including the role of the office of the Commissioner of the NFL. We have asked that a neutral and jointly selected arbitrator hear this case as the Commissioner and his staff will be essential witnesses in the proceeding and thus cannot serve as impartial arbitrators. 

Additional information on this matter:

·       The terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement require a hearing date to be set within 10 days of this appeal notice.

·       Under governing labor law, an employee cannot be punished twice for the same action when all of the relevant facts were available to the employer at the time of the first punishment.

·       The hearing will require a neutral arbitrator to determine what information was available to the NFL and when it was available.

I won’t analyze this point by point, but it’s expert. The best part is when it cites the rights of all the players. That not only broadens everyone’s understanding, but takes the focus off Rice.

For anyone looking to issue a fair statement during a crisis that has organizational integrity and actually says something, this is as close to perfect as it comes. Concise, non-judgmental, no whining, no mud-slinging. This works.

Save it.

The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs and Crisis and Reputation Management at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the East. Learn more about EMA at mowerpr.com/crisisready. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.

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About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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