In LA? Watch us laugh & debate sports on #GoingRoggin, midnight tonight on KNBC Ch4 w/ @frednbcla @jfromcompton
After The Preakness keep your TV on NBC ch4…I’ll be on #GoingRoggin talking sports and cracking up w/ @frednbcla @jfromcompton
Debate sports and laugh with me, @fredNBCla and @mark_t_willard on #GoingRoggin. Tonight at 12:05am on NBC Ch.4 in LA
Friends in LA - please watch live or set your DVR for Going Roggin, Sunday night on NBC Channel 4. Show starts at 12:05am (technically Monday morning) and we’re hoping this episode gets the show’s highest ratings thus far! The show is funny and risqué, I think you’ll enjoy it. Thanks :)
Enjoyed round 2 of #goingroggin w/ @fredNBCla and @mark_t_willard. Set DVR Sun. night on KNBC Ch4
The movement for LGBT equality has been on the forefront of American politics and society over the last several years with professional athletics finally joining the party as sports stars spanning the globe have trickled out of the closet.
John Amaechi, Gareth Thomas, Robbie Rogers and Brittney Griner have all publicly disclosed their sexuality in recent years, proving that yes, some of the best athletes on earth are indeed gay.
Last week NBA player Jason Collins disclosed he is gay, becoming the first active male athlete in one of the four major North American team sports to come out.
Supporting Collins and the right for players to be open and honest about their sexuality were fellow athletes Baron Davis, Kobe Bryant, Chris Kluwe, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Scott Fujita, Steve Nash, CC Sabathia and Jerry Stackhouse.
All of these men have one thing in common. They are all over 30 years old. Why is this important?
Traditionally, the Gay Rights movement leadership may be comprised of an over 30 crowd, but surveys indicate that the greatest support for equal marriage rights lies among younger Americans. With every new generation entering adulthood, the country becomes more accepting of gay rights.
I, for one, would think that today’s college players and younger professional athletes would be the folks leading the way for openly gay players in sports. It seems that I’m only half right, especially in men’s sports.
Academia frequently serves as a catalyst for social change and we’re seeing an increased number of college athletic programs publicly encourage players to come out. However there’s a significant drop off in that sentiment among the pro ranks.
It’s no coincidence that many veteran players, such as those previously mentioned, are freely expressing opinions on a controversial issue. Many of these guys are at the end of their professional careers or are so dominant in their sport that they won’t face any career-threatening or financial consequences.
But what about young players who aren’t yet established in their sport? Just a few months ago, an NFL prospect was asked about his sexuality at the Combine. What kind of message does that send to young players?
There is one player who has managed to break the mold. He’s not a veteran but he has faced years of taunting as a result of sticking up for his beliefs.
Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets is just the kind of young, talented, high-profile athlete needed to encourage other heterosexual athletes of his generation to help open the doors even wider for lesbian and gay teammates.
Raised by two moms, Waudda and Manasin, the 23-year-old Faried has been active in supporting the LGBT community for several years. An impressive rookie season earned Faried respect and a solid reputation heading into this season, his second in the NBA.
Veteran, heterosexual players (and obviously, the gay athletes who have come out over the years, such as Martina Navratilova) have paved the way for Robbie Rogers, Brittney Griner, and now, Jason Collins. But those guys are on the way out, leaving a huge void in the movement. Kenneth Faried is the man to fill that void for his generation. Hopefully by the time his career ends, Faried won’t need a successor because the movement itself will no longer be necessary.
Sports fans often obliterate the boundaries of good taste when supporting their teams. The free, fun-loving nature of the games which we all grew up playing sure seems to have a regressive impact on adults, doesn’t it?
It’s a fine line to walk, but whomever created the billboard below nailed this tightrope act with expert precision.
Complex Magazine posted photos of an electronic billboard in Chicago featuring a rotation of creative images supporting the city’s pro sports teams. Joakim Noah -the Bulls’ most eccentric and interesting player since Dennis Rodman- is shown blasting a grimacing LeBron James with a fire extinguisher.
I’m actually laughing just typing this up right now….The look on LeBron’s face is priceless.
Sure, it was only ONE playoff game in which Noah and the rest of the depleted-yet-not defeated Bulls shocked the defending champs, but the fans and city should savor every single moment they can.
Kudos to whomever created these ads. Aside from a burst of carbon dioxide to the face, the “Noah extinguishes LeBron” image (as well as the pro-Blackhawks billboard) is hilarious without hurting anyone’s feelings.
If anything, the billboard will add fuel to the Heat’s fire heading into Game 2.
Without Luol Deng and Derrick Rose, that billboard might be the last we see of the Bulls putting the Heat on blast.
Tenaciously supporting a minority that so many in the majority have yet to understand takes considerable strength and courage, perhaps in its own way, requiring even more bravery than donning pads and a helmet on Sundays.
Speaking out in favor of marriage equality has put NFL players Chris Kluwe, Brendon Ayanbadejo and Scott Fujita (all heterosexual, in case you were wondering) on a new kind of athletic map, one that spans far beyond the football field. The three veterans of the sport, all California natives, will have their eyes on Washington D.C. Tuesday and Wednesday as the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in two cases that could change the course of history for gay people in this country
With the help of attorney John Dragseth and university law professor Tim Holbrook, the three NFL players filed an Amicus Brief with the court - a document stating one’s position as it relates to a case before the court - in support of marriage equality.
“Basically it’s a way to bring attention to an aspect of the case we think is important to the Court that they might not have otherwise considered,” said Kluwe who used the athlete perspective as the primary focus of the brief.
“Many different entities file amicus briefs in high profile cases, and if they’re cogent and well reasoned, the Court generally takes them into consideration.”
Several athletes (current and former) have signed the brief, hoping to use their names to help push what they see as positive legislation forward.
“The brief shows that historically, many athletes have been powerful agents for social change,” said Fujita, who recently wrote an essay about his views on marriage equality for the New York Times.
“People look to us, whether we like it or not. And that’s why our actions, and how we treat others, and the words we use, carry a lot of weight. We need to set the right example, especially for kids.”
In an age where world famous sports stars (i.e. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, etc.) keep quiet about their personal and political beliefs, many find the recent surge of athletes coming out in support of the LGBT community and marriage equality to be something new, and surprising.
“Renaissance” would be a more accurate description of the gay rights movement building within the community of current and former professional athletes as the sports world has often been at the forefront of civil rights issues.
Jackie Robinson integrated baseball when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, several years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education integrated the country in 1954.
Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Peter Norman stood for racial equality on the medal stand in Mexico City during the 1968 Summer Olympics.
Women gained equal access to play sports in school with the Title IX portion of the Education Amendments of 1972 and here we are, four decades later, where women earn only 74 cents for every dollar earned by men in the workplace.
The NFL’s renaissance men embrace the challenges faced by their predecessors as they become the next generation of athletes to take a stand on social issues.
“Until everyone is accepted and treated equally we will continue to push the envelope toward equality,” said Ayanbadejo, who plans to speak at a marriage equality rally in Washington on Tuesday.
“People know and accept that racism isn’t right. When every one feels the same way about discrimination and the law backs our stance, only then will we be satisfied.”
While Ayanbadejo, Fujita and Kluwe have long been supporters of the LBGT community and marriage equality, their stock soared sky high in 2012, and even ruffled some feathers along the way, thanks to an election year with marriage equality on the ballot in several states.
The broad discussion of constitutional gay rights narrowly trickled down to the sports world Monday as news broke regarding an NFL player who is strongly considering coming out to the public. He would become the first openly gay, active athlete in the history of North American sports.
It’s clear that a host of fellow athletes would support him, as there are plenty of notable names on the athlete’s brief submitted to the court. But the list is noticeably devoid of the most recognizable sports figures. No LeBron James, Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant, or Sidney Crosby. No Venus or Serena Williams, Rory McIlroy or Derek Jeter.
“It would really help bolster the environment of support and equality we’re trying to promote in the NFL and other pro sports,” Kluwe said of the importance of the biggest names in the business publicly supporting LGBT rights and marriage equality.
“Top athletes are definitely role models for a lot of people, and having their help is invaluable.”
In fairness to the aforementioned, they weren’t necessarily asked to participate. Ayanbadejo did the majority of the recruiting himself on a busy, Super Bowl-winning schedule.
“The first filtering of candidates was done in my head. I targeted my athletes and went for it,” said Ayanbadejo when asked how many “A-list” athletes were asked to join the cause.
Fujita made a few calls as well, witnessing first hand how money and corporate sponsorship can so easily create a serious conflict of interest for celebrities.
“There were a handful that I approached. And it wasn’t that they weren’t with us on issue. Sometimes ‘corporate interests’ weigh in, I think. That’s why I occasionally (half-jokingly) challenge these guys to be the ‘anti-Jordan.’”
Despite those who declined to participate (publicly or privately), Ayanbadejo was encouraged by the progress made by those who were willing to lend their support.
“There really wasn’t any flat out no’s but there was plenty of hesitation. And just as many guys that were hesitant stepped up and affirmative said yes. For me to be fair I would have had to have asked more guys but the overwhelming majority said yes. I would say I was batting around .650.”
That average lines up nicely against the country as a whole, as nearly 60 percent of Americans said they support gay marriage.
The NFL’s renaissance men are hoping that one more majority sides with them as well come June, when the Supreme Court makes its decision on marriage equality.
Hey man, how’s it going? I would like to sugar coat the meaty contents of this letter by first saying congratulations on making it to the Super Bowl, as you and your 49ers teammates have made the city of San Francisco beam with football pride for the first time in many years. That is wonderful.
More importantly, I have a personal favor I’d like to ask of you. Please don’t apologize for your homophobic comments, attempt to rephrase or claim your words were taken out of context.
I’m not sure even the best and brightest of the PR world could find a way to spin this (courtesy of the Mercury News):
“I don’t do the gay guys man,” Culliver said. “I don’t do that. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do.
“Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah … can’t be … in the locker room man. Nah.”
Culliver suggested that homosexual athletes keep their sexuality private until 10 years after they retire.
Apparently, Artie Lange is the new Oprah, getting guys like you to open up about such controversial subjects. Impressive!
Here’s the thing Chris. Personally, I respect your right to freely discuss your opinions, any time, any place. I’m sure the majority of San Franciscans agree, given the Bay Area’s storied history of the peace movement, freedom of speech and gay rights activism.
This is why I implore you not to attempt to color these comments as something other than what they are; the dark truth that homophobia and strong anti-gay views remain deeply rooted in the world of professional sports.
Sure, there are other guys sprinkled throughout pro sports, for instance, your fellow NFL pals Brendon Ayanbadejo, Chris Kluwe and Scott Fujita, who are openly supportive of civil rights in this country, including LGBT rights. But clearly the movement is not yet powerful enough to have impacted you, despite your own team’s efforts to join the cause.
While it was a poor business move to publicly reveal your feelings about gays as a member of a San Francisco-based organization, there is no going back so you may as well resign to moving forward.
Should you apologize for hurting people’s feelings or offending them? That seems fair. You can stick by something you say while feeling bad that others are hurt by it. In a weird and twisted way, I actually respect Lance Armstrong for a non-apology he gave Oprah in their sit-down interview.
Instead of taking the apology bait when Oprah asked him if he felt remorse, Armstrong’s response was, “everybody that gets caught is bummed out they got caught.” Finally, he was honest about something.
Chris, you are strong enough to take the Lance route on this one.
Don’t be like your Super Bowl opponent Terrell Suggs who, after verbally decimating the “arrogant prick” Patriots, received a talking-to from teammate Ray Lewis, and consequently changed his tune to, “people don’t like them because they win,” in hopes of avoiding backlash. That’s weak sauce. Super weak.
Stick to your beliefs. Only if you mean it, say you’re sorry for offending anyone and then keep your mouth shut regarding this issue for the rest of the week.
And don’t worry about being excluded or treated as a leper back home in San Francisco after the Super Bowl. Most of the folks in the Bay are much more accepting than you, so you need not worry. It’s all good. In fact, I bet you’ll be even more popular upon your return, as the locals will surely stop you on the street for a quick chat from time to time, in hopes that maybe, just maybe their open-mindedness might rub off on you.
UPDATE: Well, looks like Chris didn’t read my letter. Bummer.
49ers statement, on behalf of Chris Culliver:
“The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel. It has taken me seeing them in print to realize that they are hurtful and ugly. Those discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart. Further, I apologize to those who I have hurt and offended, and I pledge to learn and grow from this experience.”
Public Relations, perception.
Crisis Management, image repair.
Gatekeepers, buffer zone.
The role of a Public Relations team is incredibly important in a time of crisis, and boy, can the job be daunting. It truly does take a village.
Even the staunchest of Lance Armstrong supporters can no longer deny the the fact that the world’s famous cyclist cheated, as the man who was stripped of seven Tour de France titles finally admitted to doping throughout his professional career in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey.
After losing everything from medals, to sponsors to his position as chairman of the Livestrong Foundation, one might think the unsympathetic and abrasive Armstrong would have little to gain by speaking out.
“From a PR perspective, it was mission accomplished,” according to Lila Brown, the founder of Ella Bee PR, a firm specializing in public relations and social media.
Seriously?? I didn’t exactly come away with that sense of optimism after watching Armstrong’s interview, but perhaps it’s time to frame things differently.
“Lance accomplished what he set out to do and was controlled throughout most of the interview,” says Brown. “He told us what he wanted the public to know and didn’t go any deeper …He answered the questions that he knew were on everyone’s mind and he didn’t try to offer any excuses… He told us just enough to change the narrative on any further media investigation stemming from a large line of witnesses.”
Brown, who represents several athletes, including Olympians Tyler Clary (swimming) and LaShawn Merritt (track & field), is one of many in the PR field tasked with helping shape the public image of their clients.
When someone like Armstrong has an “image crisis,” a team of creative thinkers has to consider all options, playing the role of lawyer to protect the client.
“I will say that I am more at ease when I know my client is telling the truth and we have fully prepared,” Brown says of choosing how much one in her position needs to know.
A PR pro also must wear the hat of psychiatrist in an attempt to understand how the public will feel after digesting the client’s next move.
“That’s why it is important for a client to be honest from the start. It is my job to make sure the story is accurately communicated.”
Just like in an athlete’s day job, practice makes perfect, as repeating situational role play helps ensure the story is communicated in a way deemed “successful” by PR standards.
“I would be concerned with my client speaking off topic and straying off message, but that is why we prepare for tough interviews by anticipating a variety of questions and how to respond,” Brown says of the damage control process Armstrong and other celebrities in his situation are put through. “We tend to understand how the public will accept certain answers. We try everything in our power to be less surprised by anything and know what to expect.”
Brown drew the same conclusion as many of us when Lance opted to speak out. After losing all of his sponsorships, the man needs to find a way to earn a living. But more importantly in Brown’s eyes, Armstrong wants a lesser punishment than a lifetime ban so he can resume competition, a sentiment Armstrong expressed to Winfrey in the two-part interview.
After all of the strategy meetings, focus groups, and carefully crafted blueprints aimed at precisely positioning a client, perhaps the most effective move is indeed the one that is least contrived.
Armstrong needs to, “get back to what made so many people fall in love with him in the first place which is raising awareness for cancer,” says Brown. Speaking about his personal battle with the disease may be the only credible, authentic chip Armstrong has left to play in the eyes of the public.
“His life’s story outside of cycling has touched so many people so he will need to find a new, sincere and unique way to connect with those affected by cancer.”
(To learn more about Lila Brown, and Ella Bee PR, visit http://ellabeepr.com )
Emotions ran high after the Baltimore Ravens earned a trip to the Super Bowl with a 28-13 win over the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game.
While the Ravens celebrated their victory with tears, chanting, laughter and even some post game trash talk, there were those on the losing side also experiencing a host of emotions, theirs, of the less joyful variety.
A screen shot of a status update posted on the Facebook page of Anna Welker, wife of Patriots receiver Wes Welker, went viral after the game Sunday as the post took aim at the personal life of Ravens team captain Ray Lewis.
Anna Welker tells PepperOnSports.com exclusively,
“I’m deeply sorry for my recent post on Facebook, including comments about Ray Lewis. I let the competitiveness of the game and the comments people were making about a team I dearly love get the best of me. My actions were emotional and irrational and I sincerely apologize to Ray Lewis and anyone affected by my comment after yesterday’s game. It is such an accomplishment for any NFL team to even make it to the playoffs, and the momentary frustration I felt should not overshadow the achievement of these amazing teams.”
The sports world suffered a twitter-breaking case of shock and awe today with Deadspin’s piece detailing what appears to be the phony story concocted about the late girlfriend of Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te’o. While the American public and the media sure felt duped, one of Te’o’s teammates wasn’t surprised, telling PepperOnSports.com that the players on the Fighting Irish football team smelled something fishy back in September 2012.
The Notre Dame football player, who asked for anonymity, told Pepper On Sports, “No we all knew he had only seen her once. But when the media was saying how he went through both deaths we knew,” said the source, referring to the back-to-back deaths of Te’o’s grandmother and girlfriend Lennay Kekua, who allegedly died of Leukemia.
In defense of the Heisman Trophy candidate, the source said he believes the lie may have indeed started with somebody duping Te’o using a phony twitter account, and eventually, faking their own death.
Early in my conversation with the source, the Notre Dame player said, “He lied, but the media blew it up.” In response to my follow-up question asking if the source thought that Te’o kept the story going because of the media attention, the player replied, “Yeah. Right after the Michigan [State] game. He should have never brought her in the media. His grandma passing was enough.”
Notre Dame’s victory over Michigan State and subsequent media explosion appears to have been the turning point for the source and many of his teammates.
The source said while the players discussed their suspicions amongst themselves, they never confronted Te’o.
“We would never bring it up. But we would look at him when he would get all emotional during media about his girl,” the player said.
When asked if he thought Te’o was a good actor, the player replied, “Very good.”
For the first time during his career a public figure, Lance Armstrong is set to let some amount of truth spill from his lips into the ears of a national television audience, thanks to an interview conducted by Oprah Winfrey.
Instead of focusing on the first public admission of doping from one of the supreme narcissists the sports world as ever seen, many have mysteriously unleashed their insults and skepticism on Oprah, in lieu of Armstrong.
Why are folks assuming this interview reeks of neglect and naivety - on Oprah’s part - without having seen it? Sure, the Marion Jones interview wasn’t as vicious as many had hoped, but Oprah is a smart woman. I would think she learned from that experience.
In fairness, did you watch the 30 for 30 about Marion Jones? In an entire documentary about her journey from rags to riches to federal prison, Jones, never explicitly explained how she cheated. She apologized for her mistakes and lies, but never said, “This is what I did. This is when I did it.”
Moving on to the next argument… “Oprah isn’t qualified.” Umm, are you KIDDING ME?
Oprah Winfrey began her career as a local news reporter. Do you know what a news reporter’s job is? It’s to become an expert on something new every single day. You learn, listen, read and gather enough information to convince the audience that you are a credible source on the topic and hopefully, you pull it off and actually enlighten a person or two along the way.
Of the +1000 people employed as on-air personalities and journalists by ESPN, what percentage do you think knows anything substantial about the sport of cycling? I’m guessing no more than two percent.
As a young reporter in Pocatello, Idaho, I covered auto racing, windmill manufacturing, the rodeo, nuclear engineering at the Idaho National Laboratory, a Monster Truck show for crying out loud… do you think I knew ANYTHING about any of those things? Nope! But I learned. That’s our job as reporters.
Oprah Winfrey has one of the brightest and most creative staffs television. If you think a person who has traveled the world, worked as a reporter and interviewer for more than three decades, and who -as an overweight, African-American woman in the South- managed to create a global brand all about HERSELF won’t have the tools and resources to successfully interview Lance Armstrong, well, clearly you haven’t given the situation much thought.
But then we come to this argument. “Armstrong is using Oprah. He’s not going to a more credible institution or to a journalist who covered him throughout because he knows she’ll be easier on him.”
If someone picked me apart and exposed my lies over the years, I wouldn’t exactly be inclined to sit down with that person either. The odds of Armstrong not holding a grudge are none to none.
Armstrong may be coming clean to a degree, but he’s surely doing it for self-serving reasons. Which outcome would you prefer… an in-depth interview that shows multiple sides of this man, with the possibility of light moments and a confession of some sort, even if it’s without all the intricate details of doping? OR would you rather have no on-camera interview at all, and instead, have a PR puppet write a short statement on Armstrong’s behalf admitting to doping?
I’ve read columns and tweets from journalists who appear to be personally offended by Oprah landing this sit-down, as though she “stole” the interview from them, or specific media colleagues. Newsflash: You were never in the running for this gig, and neither was the “more deserving” person you suggested was screwed out of the interview. It was either Oprah or Nobody as far as Armstrong’s team was concerned.
Most of what we’ve seen from Armstrong in his career has been lies, cheating, and truckload after truckload of BS. I would expect nothing less than manipulation and ingenuous, self-serving behavior from Armstrong, regardless of the person asking him questions. That said, I’ll give the guy a chance to prove me wrong.
And perhaps Oprah is actually the one person who gives Lance the best shot at letting what little speck of truth and humility still exist in that hollow soul to shine through to the public. That’s what Oprah is about. She has the ability to connect with people on a human level in such a way that they feel safe in answering even the most judgmental questions.
Speaking of judgment, let’s do the fair thing for Oprah by reserving it for after we’ve seen the interview. And better yet, let’s keep the heat on Lance Armstrong, the actual antagonist who seems to have lucked out into losing the spotlight to the one name bigger than his.
Have you ever had that feeling when you show up somewhere, and something is off? You know something isn’t quite right, but you can’t put your finger on it? That eerie, sour sense of mystery likely flooded the air circulating through the Dallas Cowboys facility soon after the players arrived early Saturday morning, just hours after the death of one of their teammates.
It was an early wake-up for the Dallas Cowboys as meetings began at the training facility at 7:30am Saturday, with the team plane scheduled to take off for Cincinnati a few hours later, a source close to the team told PepperOnSports. Once the players separated into groups, it became clear that two guys were missing from their respective meetings, third-year nose tackle Josh Brent, and rookie linebacker, Jerry Brown. The players began talking amongst themselves, but were told only that there had been an “unfortunate accident,” and no details were provided by team personnel, according to the source.
It wasn’t until the team had boarded the charter plane in the afternoon that the players received the bad news from head coach Jason Garrett. Jerry Brown was killed in a drunk driving accident, and Josh Brent - who was driving when his car flipped at 2:21am after hitting a curb at high speeds - had been arrested for DUI and manslaughter.
Brent and Brown were on their way home from Privae nightclub in Dallas, where a dozen Cowboys players had spent the evening partying with comedian Shawn Wayans, according to a source close to the team. The Privae website advertises free entry with an RSVP every Friday and promotes an evening with celebrity guest host Shawn Wayans for December 7. Most bars and clubs in Dallas close at 2am.
Not that there is ever a good time to learn that one coworker is dead and another is being blamed for it, but right before a two-and-a-half hour flight, without the comfort of friends or family outside of the office seems like a tough way to receive the news. When asked about the mood of the players during the flight, the source replied, “silence on the plane.” That was perhaps the longest flight of those mens’ lives.
(Update: “The team couldn’t immediately reveal the details because Brown’s next-of-kin had not been notified,” according to USA Today)
This takes us back eight days ago, in the wake of Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher, who murdered his girlfriend Kassandra Perkins, before killing himself at Arrowhead Stadium in front of KC’s general manager and head coach. As of last Friday, there was no precedent in dealing with the murder/suicide carried out by n active NFL player, much less with the suicide happening in front of team personnel at the stadium.
Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the first time an active NFL player has died in a car accident during the season. Atlanta Falcons players Ralph Norwood and Brad Beckman were killed in separate car accidents less than a month apart during the 1989 season.
The Chiefs operated under a microscope last week, every decision and movement dissected by the media. One can only imagine the level of interest and examination facing the Cowboys, a team whose 6-6 record - now seemingly inconsequential in comparison - is the subject of daily debate on both the local and national level. It should be interesting to watch the ensuing behavior of frequently scrutinized Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in the wake of this tragedy.
Hopefully the appropriate mental health support will be offered to players and team personnel for the remainder of the season. One can only imagine the emotional weight the Cowboys will carry with them on to the field Sunday against the Bengals.