Monday, April 21, 2008

Matt Leinart: You Humiliate Me.

Matt Leinart learned a very good lesson about bad PR last week when several scandalous pictures surfaced on the internet of him partying at his Phoenix residence with several Arizona State University females (who were NOT of drinking age). One picture even displayed Leinart holding a beer bong for one of the underage girls as she greedily (cough, trashily) slurped up alcohol on her knees. Others showed Leinart surrounded by the giddy, intoxicated girls in his hot tub.

Appropriate Matt. Really fucking appropriate.

You idiot.

After the pictures were initially released on a college gossip site,, the media caught wind and the pictures wound up in the hands of media giants and Obviously, word spread to even larger media outlets such as Fox Sports and, and Leinart was instantly roasted by journalists, television commentators, bloggers, and fans.

Leinart, who has had a generally well-liked and well-mannered relationship with the public, really destroyed his good-boy image with this incident. Journalists and other media sources, in conflict with the opinion of the public (round of applause for the USC PR team for keeping his true image at bay), have often reported Leinart difficult to work with and, well, an asshole. Now the public have a reason to agree.

A very select few sports commentators, namely ESPN Pardon the Interruption’s Michael Wilbon, have taken the opposing point of view, declaring Leinart’s actions the actions of a “normal college boy,” or the actions of the “all American quarterback enjoying his benefits.”

Um, pardon THIS interruption. NO!

Leinart, you are NOT in college anymore. These “frat boy” antics are TOTALLY repulsive and completely irresponsible. I don’t feel bad for you crying that you can’t just live a normal life and have underage chicks drinking in your hot tub! News flash: you don’t have a normal life! Part of being an athlete, and in turn an entertainment celebrity, is understanding that while you reap incredible benefits, you also make several sacrifices. When you play on a team, you represent that organization. When you signed your contract, you signed a document bonding you to other members of that team and that organization, and accepted the fact that now when you are in the public eye, it is your responsibility to make your behavior an accurate reflection of that organization.

GROW UP LEINART. Not only did you just totally destroy your credibility as a professional athlete (because you know, everyone wants to trade and pay money for the frat boy gone wrong from Southern California), you alienated your fan base (have fun with your endorsement deals, maybe Coors Light has a spot available), pissed off your coach, and made the Arizona Cardinals look completely stupid and incapable of controlling the behavior of their players. And then had the nerve to cry about it. Do you know how many little boys wear your jersey around?? Do you think they should have to look at you feeding a beer bong to a chick?? Should the sweet old 85 year old USC alumni who plan their year around USC football games have to have their pride in their school destroyed by your childish antics? You should be embarrassed of yourself.

Outside of ranting about Leinart’s incapability to join the rest of the adult world, there is something good to point out in this situation. Building off of my last post when I explored the concept and ethical ties of crisis management, this is the perfect example of a crisis management situation handled flawlessly.
Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt (clearly following the orders of the public relations team) released a statement shortly after the pictures surfaced that said he was “disappointed” in the quarterback, and “reiterated to him [Leinart] the type of behavior we expect at all times from our players.” Whisenhunt continued on to say: “He understands those expectations as well as the level of scrutiny that he’s under because of who he is. It’s being handled internally.” You can read other comments by Coach Whisenhunt here.

This statement was PERFECTION. It completely embodies spinning the story to make the player apologetic and in a nearly positive light, while not telling any lies. Not only does the statement begin with the fact that the organization is upset with his behavior, which protects the image of the Cardinals, but it goes on to show that Leinart has been reprimanded and any other repercussions will be handled behind closed doors. It also shows Leinart to be apologetic, sincere, and understanding of the situation (whether he actually is or not). It gives the media just enough information to dispel rumors, leave little room for questions, and show strength and unity in the organization, while not airing out the Cardinals’ or Leinhart’s dirty laundry in a way that could damage the image of either.

A job well done, a crisis well managed – the press got over it after about a week and are now onto the next thing. Had there been no press release or one that was too vague, the media would still be eating this up with a spoon.

Now maybe Matt will think twice about raging girls that still use fake ID’s. If not, there’s always us PR people to clean up his messes.


The Figueroa Post said...

I LOVE MATT LEINART. Knowing that this star football player fathered a child with some random girl he dated for a few months and is giving beer bongs to underage girls makes USC look so great. As if Reggie accepting all kinds of illegal gifts wasn't enough.

-L said...

I totally read this story on one of the websites you mentioned and went to check out to see what the hell that website was all about...and found out its pretty much about nothing. Pure trash.

Anyways, that's besides the point. Is anyone really surprised that Leinart was caught holding a beer bong for underaged college girls? I mean, he WAS just in college 2 years's not as if he's a 45 year old father who had 6 kids with 5 different "baby mamas"
And he IS a pro athlete. Since when were they held to the highest moral standards? Juicing/Steroids, Sex, Drugs, Dog Fights etc...It's all just part of their sloppy off the court/off the field game...I'm not saying that it's RIGHT just that it's not surprising.

Good post!

Major Minor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Chipped Stele said...

Outrageous? Yes. Shocking? Not really.

This sort of behavior is nothing new in a society that treats athletes like gods and lets them get away with just about everything.

privilegeindifference said...

I kind of agree with these comments. While Leinart's actions are not too great, they aren't very surprising, either. We let professional athletes break so many "rules," so to speak, that this could even be considered rather tame. That's not at all an argument for allowing his behavior, but it just shows that it's nothing too outrageous in comparison.