NFL Kicks Off Season with Scandal Headache

ESPN recently published a story, or rather, a lengthy report, that was sure to give the NFL and the New England Patriots another major headache. The article highlighted that the New England Patriots may have illegally videotaped other NFL teams to get ahead in the game from 2000-2007. What’s the big deal? Well, this is not the first time the Patriots have been accused of spying on opponents, and the juicy report stated that it was more than a few times, among other questionable tactics. ESPN also reported that Commissioner Roger Goodell had the tapes destroyed during the investigation, infuriating other team owners. The report suggests that because close to nothing was done to punish anyone involved in Spygate, Goodell was harsher on the Patriots during this year’s Deflategate scandal.

So, with yet another rumor-filled report released (which was actually given a tighter edit after its original posting) about their past and present foul play, what should have been the right move by their PR spokesman, Stacey James? This is not James’ first go around with crisis communications for the Patriots. He has been through four Super Bowls plus Spygate — PR nightmare after PR nightmare.

This was the Patriots’ response to the ESPN article:

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 5.49.30 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-11 at 5.47.14 PMThe Patriots’ response is filled with denial, blame and calls the reporting “unfounded, unwarranted and, quite frankly, unbelievable…”

Do you think James handled this PR nightmare in the right way? Could the Patriots have answered differently or waited to say anything at all — especially since ESPN is fielding lots of criticism for the lack of sources in this report? Owning up to mistakes is important to getting back on track, but at this point is the reputation of the Patriots beyond repair?

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2 Responses to NFL Kicks Off Season with Scandal Headache

  1. Aubrey Badger says:

    It seems that almost every football season, there is some rumor circulating around the New England Patriots. From Spygate to Deflategate, it’s obvious that Stacey James has been through it all. Judging from James’s statement in response to the questions about the report, he’s meticulously thought through his placing of words like “unfounded” and “unwarranted.” I think it is important to get out in front of allegations such as these, even though ESPN has yet to substantiate some of their sources. Saying and doing nothing implies guilt in the world of PR. I think James made the right call here, even if the statement was worded a little harshly. As far as the reputation of the Patriots goes, it’s clear that from their recent Super Bowl successes and unwavering fan base that their image has yet to be fully tarnished. While rumors and scandals do arise, in the world of sports, it most oftentimes comes down to the performance of the team as a whole in athletic aspects, and nothing more.

  2. Siera Whitten says:

    I agree with you that James made the right decision in his response to the public. Where I would beg to differ is your comment about how, in the world of sports, it is only about the performance of the athletes. Not only are the football players athletes, they are constantly watched by the public on their actions outside the field. What they do outside the field can determine if they even play, and that can reflect on the performance of the team.

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