Buffalo’s a huge sports town. The television ratings for its woeful but improving Buffalo Sabres are nonetheless cresting near the top of the NHL standings.
People follow athletes in Buffalo like soccer players in Barcelona or skiers in Austria.
It’s instructive then to look at two of Buffalo’s higher-profile pro athletes and consider how each dealt with his own crisis.
First, LeSean McCoy, star running back for the Buffalo Bills, traded from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Bills in 2015. On the night of the Super Bowl, McCoy and some friends apparently got into a ruckus at a club with two off-duty Philly cops.
No charges yet filed; no clear indication of guilt; no comment from McCoy; no action either way by the NFL or the Bills.
Let’s turn then to Evander Kane, star Sabres forward who missed Monday’s practice because he was in Toronto late Sunday for the NBA All-Star Game. His coach, Dan Blysma, benched Kane from tonight’s game in Ottawa.
Kane today apologized for his mistake.
“First and foremost, I want to apologize to my teammates for letting them down,” Kane said. “Me missing practice yesterday was irresponsible and I take full accountability for my actions with what happened.”
No doubt Kane’s transgression and punishment are two on a 10 scale compared to McCoy’s, who could be charged with aggravated assault.
But there are many things McCoy could say that would not impinge on his criminal defense, should he need one, and still demonstrate that he cares about his teammates, the Bills organization, owners Terry and Kim Pegula and the fans.
Prosecutors and the courts will decide if he did anything criminal. But McCoy also should worry about his reputation and his future standing with the team. After all, some media and fans have called for his release, something that could cost him millions of dollars.
Added Kane today: “I wanted to apologize to my teammates, the Pegula family as well, our coaching staff and general manager,” he said. “It’s something that should have never happened. It’s something that I can promise you won’t happen again and it’s something that I’m definitely going to learn from.”
Along the same lines, how might this sound from McCoy?
“While I must wait for all the facts to come out in this case, I want to apologize to the Bills organization, the Pegulas and our fans. I cannot say much about what happened, but I can take responsibility for causing distress and concern to so many people who have supported me over the years. I’m confident I only acted in self-defense, but I acknowledge that a person others rely on and see as an athlete worth emulating should not have been at that place at that time.”
Maybe McCoy could learn a few pointers from Kane.
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 eight 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.