Dennis Culloton, President & CEO
Before Super Bowl III, New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath famously and publicly guaranteed the Jets would win the championship game. Fortunately for Broadway Joe he was able to lead his team to victory, and in doing so joined the pantheon of sports legends.
That kind of excited utterance is in jeopardy. Today’s Jets have had their share of public relations trials this off-season — from their volatile quote-machine Coach Rex Ryan to their quarterback controversies, to the signing, Twitter ranting, releasing, re-signing then releasing of wide receiver Braylon Edwards. In a perfect world, the world of Lombardi, a professional football team’s communications office doesn’t need to worry about what the athletes are saying. But times have changed and the media, egged on by fans that demand transparency, insists on attempting to extract information from players. That is why the Jets have infuriated some media outlets by issuing “media bridge cards” to players. With phrases including “let me just add that,” “that reminds me,” and “another thing to remember is,” Jets players are instructed to steer conversations with reporters away from conversations that may lead to statements that indict teammates, coaches, or front office personnel, and drive the team into distracting media circuses.
Doubts remain regarding whether or not the Jets’ new media strategy will be successful, specifically among the already cynical sports media. The Jets have work to do as a football team, so it is crucial that they aren’t distracted by off-the-cuff remarks to the media. If the usually comical New York Jets manage to stay away from bad press, NFL reporters in other cities may have to deal with the same “bridges” away from dangerous leading questions. And New York sports media better hope the Giants are less on message.