“I love it when a plan comes together.” – John “Hannibal” Smith (George Peppard), The A-Team

“I love it more when it falls apart.” – Yours Truly.

The poor Washington NFL Team. Yesterday, someone at the Washington NFL team’s public relations office apparently decided that rallying the team’s fans against Senator Harry Reid and the U.S. Senate was a good idea. For those of you who aren’t aware, many people consider the Washington NFL team’s nickname to be a tad… racially insensitive.

They decided to send out this little gem.

This was destined to go wrong as soon as they hit “Tweet.”

This is a charged issue, not just in the sporting world, but also in many segments of society. Both sides are galvanized about this issue, and it’s fair to say that responses were mixed. Among my favorite include:


The PR staff of Washington’s NFL team is kind of backed into a corner. Washington NFL team owner Daniel Snyder has, to be completely honest, approached this issue like a child. Which kind of makes sense because he was a huge fan of the team as a child, and is living out his childhood fantasy of owning the team. He has acted petulant, defiant, and completely absorbed in the belief that his actions should not have ramifications. A view that I believe he permeated his organization. It’s the “us against them” mindset.

If the goal of this tactic was to help galvanize a certain, small segment of society to his cause (i.e. Washington NFL fans who feel that Native Americans are being “too sensitive”) then he may very well have accomplished that part of his goal. According to the tweet however, the goal was to put pressure on Senator Harry Reid and other members of the U.S. Senate to “back off,” with all of the swagger of a playground bully. To say it backfired is being nice. According to Deadspin the response from Senator Reid’s office was, well, the title says it all.

I enjoy crisis management as part of my work in public relations. I’m interested to see how this turns out. I can’t really say what I would advise Snyder’s team to do, because it appears that he refuses to listen to anyone other than those who tell him what he wants to hear.

I think Washington’s NFL team is going to continue to make gaff after gaff as the leadership flails around continuing to justify their decision, or non-decision, as the case may be. I think they are trying to run out the clock, hoping that the online vitriol will eventually be turned in a different direction. I think this is a mistake, and the Washington NFL team’s reputation will continue to take hit after hit until the point where they change the team name, and Snyder won’t let that happen.

And, just because… A-Team

2 thoughts on “When “Rallying Your Support” Goes So, So Wrong

  1. It doesn’t help matters that NFL owners seem A LOT like modern day slave owners. Or that they have egos the size of the moon.

    What really sticks in my craw is that these owners don’t seem to realize what they’re doing is wrong – they just think they are misunderstood by everybody. The lack of awareness is staggering!

    Must be nice to be an old rich white guy who can buy his way through life with no regard to other people’s lives or feelings. Goody for them.

    1. Man oh man, this is why I miss our Journal Agate sports discussions, Liza! That’s a great point, that lack of awareness comes in part from never being told “no” by others in the organization. I did notice in this story that the Washington NFL PR employees had no comment for the media, which is always a bad sign for an organization trying to build some kind of public sentiment.

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