How to Deal with the Media: NFL Booklet Offers Pointers to Players, Coaches and Owners

Editor & Publisher, October 5, 1991 | Go to article overview

How to Deal with the Media: NFL Booklet Offers Pointers to Players, Coaches and Owners


How to deal with the media

NFL booklet offers pointers to players, coaches and owners

National Football League players, coaches and owners found new ways to embarrass themselves last season. The league blushed, then did something about it.

In the wake of the Lisa Olson episode, Sam Wyche's banning of a female reporter from the Cincinnati Bengals' locker room, and various other humiliations, the NFL has decided to enhance and update the educational process for its personnel regarding the media.

Among the results is a 10-page booklet called the NFL Media Relations Playbook that reviews philosophy and policies and offers pointers on how to deal with the media. The league also developed a 30-minute cassette called "Winning the Media Game -- A Guide for NFL Players."

The cassette, narrated by Pat Summerall and Kathleen Hessler (her company, Communication Concepts Inc., is a training, speaking and consulting firm), is designed to make players and coaches more aware of how they handle themselves in interviews and in their general behavior when the notepads are out and the microphones are in their faces.

"What we do is teach sports personalities how to communicate what they really think and get it through in a way that people want to listen and believe it," said Hessler, a former local news anchorwoman. "Just because you are a sports personality, people expect you to be able to explain yourself and deal easily with the media, but for many athletes and coaches, it's like going into a foreign land that has a language, a nuance and a culture all its own."

Hessler, who also works with several major colleges, including North Carolina, Clemson and Notre Dame, contacted NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue soon after the sexual harassment incident last fall involving Lisa Olson, then a sportwriter for the Boston Herald.

"I approached the NFL and said, |You need me,'" she recalled. "I received a letter from Paul Tagliabue saying, |We will talk to you after the season.' He also sent me a copy of the videotape featuring Ahmad Rashad that the league has made available to its teams since 1988.

"After the season, they said they wanted to buy 500 power training sets we put out to give to teams. Then the commissioner said he wanted to issue a tape dealing with just the NFL so everybody can relate to it directly. He felt it would provide another tool for players to learn how to do this better."

Hessler said it is not surprising that some pro football players have virtually no communicative skills, nor is it applicable only to the NFL. …

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