This is old news but it continues to ring true. If you are in a public position you should really do one of two things: keep your mouth closed or learn how to communicate in an intelligent and responsible fashion. Brandon Meriweather I am talking to you!
Recently the National Football League (NFL) suspended Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather for two games after Meriweather was penalized for two illegal hits during the Redskins’ victory over the Chicago Bears at FedEx Field. The suspension is without pay and will cost Meriweather $141,176. Meriweather received the two game suspension for his hits on Chicago Bears wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery but later had that reduced to just one game.
The NFL said in its written announcement of the suspension that the disciplinary action was taken for “repeat violations this season of NFL safety rules prohibiting hits to the head and neck area of defenseless players, including two in Sunday’s Washington-Chicago Bears game.”
The league’s written release also said that Meriweather “was penalized for unnecessary roughness in the third quarter of Sunday’s game against Chicago for a forcible helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless receiver and again in the fourth quarter for a forcible hit to the head and neck area of a defenseless receiver.”
In recent seasons the league has started taken a stronger stand against hits to the head of players deemed to be in defenseless positions such as a quarterback throwing a pass or a wide receiver making a catch. There have been an increased number of head injuries suffered by players lately. In fact, the NFL reached a tentative $765 million settlement this past summer with former players who have sued over concussion related injuries.
So Brandon Meriweather was back at the team’s facility this past week after serving his one game suspension for the illegal hits to the helmet. When asked if he learned any lessons from his sitting out for the week he said he had.
“To be honest, man, you’ve just got to go low now, man,” Meriweather said. “You’ve got to end people’s careers, you know? You’ve got to tear people’s ACLs and mess up people’s knees now. You can’t hit them high no more. You’ve just got to go low.”
Uh, excuse me? Brandon Meriweather still just doesn’t get it.
Or does he? Maybe he actually meant that? I would like to think he didn’t. I would like to think he was just being a smart ass and it came out wrong. Point is, when you are in a position where people are going to be sticking a microphone in your face so you can speak to millions of people, you should probably have a good grasp of the art of communication. Sure you could argue it is not his job. You may argue it is his job to play football. Yet when he signed that contract I am 100% confident he, and every other player that plays professional sports, was dreaming of being on a box of Wheaties. Along with that comes the little kids looking up to you as a role model. So what did these little Brandon Meriweather fans see and hear this past week? They saw their hero flip off at the mouth and sound like a fool. They think that is cool and they start to act like him and it all just continues to downward spiral.
Later Meriweather went off about Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall, who said Meriweather ought to be “taken out of the game completely” for the safety’s long history of questionable hits. “Everybody got their opinion,” Meriweather said. “He feel like I need to be kicked out of the league? You know, I feel like people who beat their girlfriends should be kicked out the league, too. So, you tell me who you’d rather have: Somebody who play aggressive on the field, or somebody who beat up their girlfriend? You know, everybody got their opinion, so that’s mine, that’s his.” Shall I get the red pen out for you?
Point it there are places where those who have a microphone can learn to communicate effectively. One of those places is Toastmasters International. They have a fine program you can learn more about here.
I feel every member of the NFL should be required to join Toastmasters in their first year and complete the first Competent Communication manual. The 10 speech projects help develop speaking skills one step at a time.
Brandon Meriweather would have been well served by taking and completing this course. Maybe with it he would have the skills to know the right thing to say at the right time.
Now that would be a good role model for the kids.