May 13

Nicknames are being nixed

20110512125827070_0001aaaaaThe New York Times just ran a fascinating trend piece about the demise of nicknames in sports.  The reporter, John Branch, waxed poetic about the great nicknames of yesteryear, ranging from ‘the Bambino’ and ‘Dr. J’ to ‘Earl the Pearl’ and ‘Night Train’. 

Here's the rub, though. Nicknames aren't just disappearing in sports, they're vanishing in society at large.

To explain why, the Times cites sociologists and experts in onomastics (now, there's an obscure profession for you). The experts say we don't have ‘Choo-Choos’, ‘Mookies’ or ‘Whiteys’ anymore because there's an increasing lack of intimacy and connectedness in society. A Wayne State professor added “…a nickname, good or bad, meant we cared. You don't give someone about whom you are indifferent a nickname. The opposite of love is not hate. It's indifference.” Amen, brother.

I love nicknames and always will. And, I've been unknowingly bucking the nickname nixing trend from day one.  To wit:

– My son, Chris, is known as ‘Ali’ (a la Muhammad Ali, my all-time favorite boxer).
– My daughter, Catharine, is known as ‘the Goose’ (because one of her earliest expressions was “You silly goose.”)
– My older brother, Russ, is ‘Ra’ because that's how my younger brother John (‘J’) once pronounced his name.
– Chris calls me ‘sDot’ (he says it has something to do with my addiction to the BB. Addiction? What addiction?)
– Chris's significant other is universally known as ‘O.P.’ (her initials)
– My buddy, Tommy, is the Babe Ruth of nicknames. He's alternatively known as ‘Thos’, ‘TLP’, ‘El Hombre Blondo', ‘Le Poer’ and ‘Thom’ (the man may have an identity complex).

Many of Peppercom's key players sport nicknames as well. There's:

– Ted ‘Teddy Ballgame’ Birkhahn (because, like the original Teddy Ballgame, our Ted can do it all).
– Maggie ‘Maggs’ O'Neill.
– Nick ‘The Knife’ Light (one of the Goose's high school boyfriends was known as Nick the Knife, so poor Nick was handed the same sobriquet).
– Dandy Stevenson is ‘The Danderoo’ (that's what Howard Cosell always called Dandy Don Meredith).
– Ed is either ‘Eddie Moeddie’ or ‘Edward Moedward’ (depending on whether the social situation is casual or formal).
– And, then, there's our West Coast president Ann Barlow, who is known solely by her surname. (i.e. “What's Barlow been up to of late?”)

I could go on and on. But, I think the nickname thing is indicative of my personal POV and Peppercom's culture. I give nicknames to people I like and care about (or, absolutely detest. But, that's a different blog for a different day).

I think the Wayne State egghead nailed it when he said the opposite of love is indifference. One of the main reasons people hate their jobs is because of the impersonal nature of the workplace. Peppercom has many faults, but impersonal and indifferent it is not.

I dare any holding company executive to share just one nickname from his or her place of work. They can't. Because at the big firms, you're just a number. Trust me, there's no Ed 'The Glider' Charles or Walt 'Clyde' Frazier at Weber-Shandwick, Burson or Hill & Knowlton. Because, well, that would be a tad too personal.

How about your organization (or circle of friends)? Have any cool nicknames you'd care to share?

Apr 15

Hype without substance is as phony as a three dollar bill.

A client in the education software space was recently sharing the results of a global survey that  showed her organization's customers rated it poorly when it came to service. She stared at the marketers around the table and said, “It's our job to improve these numbers.” I disagreed, and said so. I told the client the best marketing in the world wouldn't move the needle if her organization didn't first fix its poor service.
 
Beef-300x282The same holds true for the New York Metropolitan Baseball Club (AKA 'The Mets' or 'Los Mets' as they're known to my Spanish-speaking readers).
 
The Mets stink. Period. The club has been in a slow, but steady, death spiral since blowing the biggest late-season lead in baseball history a few years back. Many of the perpetrators of that atrocity are gone. And, the team has a new general manager and field skipper. But, the basic model remains broken. And, ownership can't afford to fix it, because they lost their shirts fiddling around with Bernie Madoff.
 
Despite the broken service offering, though, the Mets continue to hype each and every one of their upcoming encounters with all the drama of a Hollywood premiere: 'Tune in Sunday as David Wright and Jose Reyes lead the Mets into battle with their arch division rival, Chipper Jones and his Atlanta Braves!' Puh-lese. I'd rather watch grass grow.
 
No one cares about the 4-9 Mets, as was exemplified by the tens of thousands of empty seats at Citi Field on Thursday (where Los Mets dropped both games of a doubleheader to 'Troy Tulowitzki and his Colorado Rockies!').

Hype without substance is insulting. And, whether it's a client who thinks a thought leadership campaign can improve the findings of a future branding study or the lame superlatives used to convince Mets fans to turn on the tube or turn out to Citi Field, the end result will be the same: failure.

Fix what's broken first and don't try to spend three-dollar bills.

Mar 31

Keep the cheater, not the loser

Today's guest post is by Emily Simmons, (pictured) Graduate Assistant for Student Media, Student Life Organization, College of Charleston.

EmilyRight about now former University of Tennessee Men’s Head Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl is probably regretting working without a contract for the 2010-2011 NCAA basketball season. Monday rumors were confirmed that Donald Trump’s famous words fell upon Pearl’s ears: “You’re Fired!”
 
In October, RepMan reported on Pearl’s September press conference, in which he announced committing NCAA recruitment violations, and apologized to the public. During the press conference UT Athletic Director Mike Hamilton stated the University had imposed self-sanctions against Pearl and his staff, resulting in limited recruitment and coaching privileges, along with deduction in pay. Pearl sat on the sidelines of eight SEC games, likely spending much of that time saying his prayers that he was going to hold onto his job a little bit longer.

But during the infamous press conference, Hamilton and UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek confirmed that in light of Pearl’s confession, the University would stand behind its fearless leader. “We sat down at the very beginning and thought ‘what is our ultimate goal?’ We want Bruce Pearl to be our basketball coach; short of data showing we have to do differently, we’re going to go into this with him being our basketball coach,” Hamilton said during an interview with Knoxville station WBIR in October. Pearl’s firing came following a disgraceful 30-point loss to University of Michigan in the second round of the NCAA Tournament; so was Hamilton saying the University would stand behind him if he was a cheater, but not if he was a cheater and a loser?

Pearl’s termination came as no surprise to the sports world, considering one week prior to the announcement Hamilton went on a local radio station claiming Pearl’s job was on the line. Two days following Hamilton’s slip of the tongue, UT found itself embarrassed and out of the tournament following Michigan’s landslide win against the Volunteers.  So what went wrong that caused this sudden shift in administrative support for Pearl? Was it the Michigan loss, rumored reports of additional NCAA violations, or had the University been planning this all along?

One month following the September press conference, Pearl’s contract was terminated, and administration announced the University was in the process of drafting a new contract for Pearl. Pearl’s former contract, according to ESPN Reporter Andy Katz, was said to be airtight. One clause protected Pearl from termination during an NCAA investigation, and only allowed action for removal to be taken following NCAA sanctions. Reports claim that Pearl continued contract negotiations over the following months, and never quite made it to signing the dotted line, a result of disagreements in the contract’s terms. But with Hamilton’s and Cheek’s public acknowledgment that his job was safe, there didn’t seem to be any threat to Pearl’s job, right? Well, as the old saying goes, “Put it in writing.”

It’s safe to say that the crux of this story has nothing to do with the NCAA violations themselves, but simply the PR mess UT has gotten itself into over the past two years. Administration announced prior to the “resignation” of former UT Head Football Coach Phillip Fulmer that his job, too, was on the line. Hamilton then hired Lane Kiffin, the first coach not from the SEC to lead the Volunteers into a losing season, who left less than one year into his contract. The Athletic Director then publicly acknowledged support of Pearl following accusations of NCAA violations, only to throw him under the bus two days prior to UT’s game in the NCAA Tournament, and then fire him with little to no explanation. In light of Hamilton’s inconsistent leadership, it’s likely that UT won’t be losing any recruits resulting from NCAA sanctions soon to be placed on the athletic program, but rather due to the lack of administrative support and transparency the University is portraying.

Saturday the University named Missouri State’s Cuonzo Martin as UT Men’s Head Basketball Coach. While Martin begins to rebuild the basketball program’s image, it will be interesting to see how the University moves forward to repair its own image. One thing’s for certain: if they hire Pat Summitt to coach all sports and run the Athletic Department they’ll be making their first smart move in years.

Feb 23

Wretched excess

I sometimes shake my head in wonder at how utterly detached from everyday reality our role Article-0-0D4F3118000005DC-11_634x381 models have become.

Take the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter. Please. I think the Yankees would like another team to take the aging superstar off their hands. In addition to his eroding, on-the-field skill set, Jeter just brought himself and the Yankees some very unnecessary publicity with the construction of a 30,875-ft palatial estate in Tampa which neighbors are calling “St. Jetersburg”. Yankees fans may be struggling to make ends meet, but their captain has built himself a Vatican City-sized enclave that serves to only further illustrate the increasing gap between the ‘haves and have nots’ in the America of 2011.

At the same time, at least one Major League Baseball general manager is finally stepping up to the plate and drawing a line in the sand (infield dirt?). Kenny Williams of the Chicago White Sox described talk of $30 million-a-year ballplayers as “asinine” and said he'd support a work stoppage to bring fiscal sanity back to baseball. Good. Someone has to stop the ever-escalating madness. Compensation for major league sports stars is way out of line, especially in the midst of a continued weak economy and nine percent unemployment.

Then again, why should Derek Jeter care what the great, unwashed masses think? And why should St. Louis Cardinals superstar Albert Pujols think twice about demanding the equivalent of the gross national product of a small Caribbean nation when negotiating his next contract?

I once worked for a semi-delusional CEO who kept predicting a secular crisis between the haves and have nots. I don't think we'll be seeing an Egyptian or Libyan-type insurrection anytime soon in America. But, I do think what we're seeing in Wisconsin and other states is an indirect backlash at the wretched excess of detached, uncaring and pampered superstars like Derek Jeter who think they deserve to live in mansions that would make King Louis XIV of France green with envy.

Where will it all end?

Feb 03

Sorry kids. But, you can’t blame genes for those tight jeans

A just-released study conducted by the University of Michigan of some 1,000 sixth graders in Obese_boy the state showed proper diet, regular exercise and less television viewing had a dramatic effect on lessening childhood obesity. The study is among the first to prove that even if obesity is linked to one's genetics, it can be combated with a little common sense. In other words, obese kids and their parents will need to find other excuses to explain their bulging waistlines.

Michigan is faring poorly in its battle of the bulge. The state ranks 41st in the nation for highest childhood obesity rates, and a staggering 21 percent of Detroit's kids qualify as obese. That means one in five is likely to suffer weight-related health problems, placing a further strain on our nation's already beleaguered health care system.

U.S. childhood obesity also reinforces a global perspective that America is a lazy, bloated, self-centered superpower whose best days are past.

We still have time to change our wanton ways, though:

– First, we need to stop blaming obesity on genetics. Statements such as: “Why bother dieting and exercising when my DNA has already determined I'll be morbidly obese by the age of 21?” should be countered with the Michigan study facts.

– Second, the government needs to push our nation's public schools to do a better job of educating kids about the importance of exercise and diet.

– Third, parents need to step up to the plate (figuratively, not literally) and better manage their kids' lifestyles (two hours a day sitting in front of a television or computer screen is unacceptable).

– Last, and certainly not least, fast food makers need to stop marketing their mega-whopper, calorie-laden, artery-clogging meals in friendly, wholesome ways (replete with smiling clowns). I think the surgeon general should insist these bacchanalian feasts carry warning labels to the effect: 'This Happy Meal will make you and your body unhappy. It will add empty calories, help raise cholesterol levels and lead to a host of diseases, including diabetes.'

It pains me to see what's happening to our nation's youth. At least, they no longer have the genes/jeans excuse. I guess that's a step in the right direction. Now, kids, it's time to put down the Cheetos, turn off the tube and start getting the old ticker pumping away. You may be saving your own, and the nation's, health and well-being in the process.

Jan 03

A different type of New Year’s resolution

DSCN5007 'Tis the season for resolutions, so I figured I'd share mine.

Unlike many, I have no need to quit smoking, lose weight or tackle new physical challenges. Ice climbing, long distance cycling and stand-up comedy fill those ‘voids’ very nicely, thank you.

My resolution is more of an emotional one. I resolve not to let professional and personal setbacks upset me to the degree they have in the past.

If a significant client cuts us loose, so be it. If a close friend decides to cut me off, c'est la vie. And, if the Mets continue to cut a wide swath through the N.L. East's cellar, that'll be ok, too.

I won't these other pet peeves bother me either:

– The Lexus 'December to Remember' TV commercials. Is there ANYTHING more obnoxious?
– PR awards' programs that allow large agencies to submit countless entries and dominate each and every category.
– Endless NJ Transit train delays.
– New Jersey's horrible image. The real armpit of the tri-state area is Wrong Island.
– Sarah Palin's nonsensical, moronic statements.
– Politicians who refuse to work with one another to solve our nation's ills.
– PR Week's hagiographic cover profiles of chief communications officers (the only thing missing are the halos).
– The latest transgression by a Catholic priest.
– Yet another heating or air conditioning glitch from the fine folks at 470 Park Avenue South.
– Unsolicited e-mails from new business rainmakers, database management experts and a certain Mr. Brown from Nigeria who needs my banking information in order to transfer some $7 million into my account.

So, bring on the New Year and its challenges. I pledge not to overreact to disloyal clients and friends or rude and uncommunicative NJ Transit train conductors.

If I should find myself slipping though, I know I need only schedule a few days of ice or rock climbing with Art Mooney (www.mooneymountainguides.com). It's the single best cure for what ails me and the best way for me to assure I deliver on my 2011 resolutions.

So, how about you? What are your 2011 resolutions?

Nov 22

Mick vs. Vick: When the very worst becomes the very best

Novick 6a00d8341c39e853ef01348470b581970cThe National Football League has a fascinating image and reputation  conundrum on its hands.    There's a very real possibility that ex-con, Michael Vick, the most villainous and vilified player in league history, will be named this season's most valuable player.

I thought it would be interesting to obtain a dog's POV (since Vick served 18 months in prison for betting on, and hosting dog fights at his palatial estate. Note: countless canines were tortured and killed by Vick and his posse). 

So, I turned to Mick Cody, an 8-year-old pit bull mix. An outspoken advocate of canine rights, Mick was literally panting at the opportunity to discuss Vick (if not disembowel him).

Rep: Thanks for finding time in your busy schedule, Mick.

Mick: No prob. I just finished a six-hour nap and, aside from needing to go bye-bye fairly soon, I've got a few minutes. Hey, how about a Beggin' Strip?

Rep: Sure. Here. Hey, nice catch. Great eye-jaw coordination. You're the Michael Vick of dogs.

Mick: Grrrrrrrr.

Rep: Sorry. So, what do you think about all the Vick buzz? He's an extraordinary athlete, no?

Mick: He's a murderer, pure and simple.

Rep: But, he paid his time in jail. Why not forgive and forget?

Mick: He was directly or indirectly responsible for the torture and deaths of hundreds of dogs. Considering the average pit lives for 12 human years, he should have been given a sentence of similar duration. And, he should NOT have been allowed to ever play football again! Woof!

Rep: Why not?

Mick: Because it sends the usual mixed signal you humans are so adept at. It's OK to decimate another species, spend a few months in prison and then return to a sport that pays you millions and millions of dollars annually. There’s something seriously wrong in that equation. You wouldn't ever let Dennis Kozlowski or Jeff Skilling run Fortune 500 businesses again, but you'll let a murderer play football again to sate Philly fans' insatiable need to win now. The Eagles should be ashamed of themselves. The team, not the birds. The birds are an impressive, if solitary lot. Another Beggin' Strip please.

Rep: OK. Wow, superb over-the-shoulder grab. Positively Vick-like.

Mick: Grrrrr.

Rep: Elaborate on the conditional love thing before you go bye-bye.

Mick: Sure. Eagles' fans are willing to conveniently forget all of Vick's horrible actions because he may be their ticket to The Super Bowl. That's conditional love. Me, I love you unconditionally whether you've forgotten to walk me or you've shown favoritism to my brother, Rooney. Not humans. You're the one who always quotes Paul McCartney when referencing past clients or flames: “Love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight.” Me, I'll love you until I fetch my last bone or lift my last leg. That's unconditional love.

Rep: Final question. I noticed you were giving some serious paw pumps during last night's game as the Eagles dumped the Giants. Weren't you sending a mixed signal?

Mick: You raised me to love the Jets and hate the Giants. What's an obedient pooch to do?

Rep: Seems like even canines can be conflicted.

Mick: Not at all. I sleep like a log. In fact, that fireplace looks pretty, darn inviting. Later, Rep.

Oct 18

Wipe the Crumbs Off Your Face or Admit You Ate the Cookie

Today's guest post is by Emily Simmons, a graduate student in communications at the College of Charleston.

He’s famously known as the SEC basketball coach who painted his chest orange in support of the Lady Vols and the first head coach to lead the Volunteers to a #1 national ranking.  Bruce Pearl Ncaa06_mp_t607 led his team into the Elite 8 during the 2010 Men’s NCAA Tournament, the only time in the university’s history.  Now he is the man barely holding on to his job and what’s left of his pride. 

On Sept. 10, Pearl spoke the words that an 'Orange Nation' hoped were not true.  He not only violated recruitment violations, but he lied to NCAA officials during interviews in June.  Although Pearl doesn’t directly admit lying to authorities, he describes his violations as “misleading information.” 

According to the NCAA, Pearl exceeded regulations set for the amount of phone calls coaching staff was allowed to make to recruits.  He is also accused of allowing recruits and their families to extend visits over the 48 hours allotted to a recruit, with each visit being paid for by University of Tennessee’s Athletic Department.  Following his June meeting with NCAA investigators, Pearl reportedly met with UT Athletic Director Mike Hamilton to fess up.  Why then was it not until September that he came clean to the public?

The old saying that a picture speaks a thousand words may be the reason why he kept his mouth shut for a few months.  The NCAA obtained a photo of three prospective recruits in Pearl’s home, catching him with his hand in the cookie jar.  NCAA regulations state that high school juniors are not allowed contact with coaching staff off campus.  Following the photo leak, the coach held a press conference during which he shed a few dry tears and choked over his words while apologizing to his family, the NCAA, his staff, Tennessee fans and of course, his players and recruits.  He admitted to violating NCAA regulations and misleading authorities during their investigation.  But, did he really admit that he was the one who stole the cookie?

He confesses that while he blatantly disregarded national rules, he was only sorry for lying about them afterwards.  Pearl vows to cooperate fully during the continuation of the investigation, but he and his staff have failed to answer any further questions from the media.  While he claims he “learned it’s not ok to tell the truth most of the time, it’s ok to tell the truth all the time,” his lack of transparency during this investigation leaves fans and professionals following the case wondering whether one apology is enough.  Does Pearl need more open communication to stop his fall from grace?

With preparations for the 2011 recruiting season well underway, the UT coach and his staff will have little time to convince these recruits that the Orange Nation is the place for them due to UT’s self-imposed sanctions as corrective action following their violations.  Tennessee has reduced the number of days allotted to recruit from 130 to 104 days.  Official recruit visits will be limited to eight days rather than 12, and it can be certain that Pearl will only allow recruits to stay for their given 48 hours.  The head coach was suspended from recruiting calls for nine days, and his Associate Head Coach Tony Jones will not be charging long-distance bills for the next three months.  In addition, he and his staff have received pay cuts and retention checks have been delayed for three years.

While the self-imposed sanctions are clearly an effort to lighten NCAA-imposed sanctions, it’s also a tactic that many are replicating in their own institution.  For example, on Oct. 8, University of Connecticut Head Coach Jim Calhoun announced violations of NCAA recruiting laws.  Their response?  Self-sanctions, of course.  UConn has placed the men’s basketball team on a two-year probation and taken away one scholarship for each of the probated seasons.  Sept. 27, AnnMarie Gilbert, Eastern Michigan women’s basketball coach, announced her one-month suspension following NCAA practice hours violations relating to the 2009-2010 Women’s Invitational Tournament.  While neither of these coaches has officially been punished by the NCAA, they have followed in Pearl’s footsteps in hopes that a few self-sanctions and slaps on the wrist will save their reputation and their programs.

The upcoming months will be the only way to evaluate these attempts to save not only university reputations, but the upcoming recruiting season as well.  Pearl self-proclaims that he is to “be an example for the NCAA,” but depending on the NCAA’s response, his role as an example could cost him his career and the future success of the UT Athletic Department.  Claiming three head football coaches in three seasons and one nationally scrutinized head basketball coach, Tennessee can only hope that these self-sanctions allow the university to become the phoenix and rise from the ashes.

Oct 04

Tour de Pink II: The Sequel

Peppercommers Matt Purdue, Trish Taylor and this blogger joined 200 other cyclists this past IMAG0066 weekend to battle flooded roads, steep hills and aching muscles to successfully complete the 230-mile Tour de Pink charity fundraising ride.

Click here to see a video of Matt being interviewed by FoxNews at the end of the ride in New York City.

Tour de Pink 2009 was an amazing experience for me- some of my readers may recall my "post ride" post from last year. This year was even more extraordinary

Created six years ago by Matt and a few other pioneering souls, the Tour's goal is to raise awareness of and monetary support for the Young Survival Coalition. This is an amazing group that, unlike Susan G. Komen and other high profile breast cancer charities, has had to depend on Matt and his circle of friends to make a difference. And, what a difference they've made. In just six years, Matt & Co. have elevated the tour from an initial event that raised just $30,000 to this year's Woodstock-like experience that has already put some $550,000 in the YSC coffers. The event’s lead sponsor, The Hershey Company (cultivated by Matt and his committee), also donated $300,000 and sent nearly 40 riders to the tour.

But, the event is about much more than the much-needed moola. It's an emotional, physical, mental and spiritual roller coaster that pushes riders to the max. In many ways, it reminds me of the demands of climbing Kilimanjaro, Elbrus or other 14,000-plus foot peaks. Cyclists, like climbers, bond immediately. We push each other through the pain. We urge each other to go just one more mile, or stagger in to just one more rest stop.

There's no hype, no false pretense and, above all, no mind games. When a rider says she has your back, she means it. When one rider falls (and, unfortunately, three cyclists suffered broken collar bones the first day), we all stop to provide whatever support we can.

You won't find that type of individual riding Matt Purdue's Tour de Pink. Many of Matt's riders begin the three days as complete strangers and end up BFFs. The exact same things holds true for climbing.

So, before ending, I wanted to send a few shoutouts:

– To all my friends, family and co-workers who contributed money. Thank you.
– To the Tour de Pink support staff who had PBJ sandwiches, bananas and Advil waiting at every rest stop.
– To the three riders who broke their collar bones on day one, but traveled with the group for the rest of the tour.
– To my most excellent assistant, Dandy Stevenson, who handled all of my personal logistics so that I could concentrate on the matter at hand
– To Matt Purdue, who lost his partner, Randi, to breast cancer this past February. This one was for you, Matt.

Although I've exceeded my $3,000 fundraising goal, I can accept donations on my fundraising page through December 31st. And, to further help Matt and YSC, we'll once again be hosting a charity comedy event this coming Saturday night, October 9th, at 8pm at the New York Comedy Club. I promise that, too, will be a special experience.

So, if the spirit so moves you, help Matt, Trish and me raise the awareness of the Young Survivors Coalition. And, if you think your legs, beck, back and lower extremities can take it, join us for next year's Tour de Pink. I've done it twice now and cannot wait for a threepeat.

If you do decide to join us, I guarantee it'll be one of the best experiences of your life.

Sep 15

Yet another September to (not) remember

As a long-suffering Mets and Jets fan, I'm agonizing through yet another painful month of  MetstoJetsFrame September. But, as a communications professional, I'm fascinated by the starkly different communications strategies taken by each squad.

Let's begin with the hapless Metropolitans. After three or four seasons in a row in which they claimed to be the National League's best team (but weren't), the 2010 Mets' communications plan was decidedly low key.  I distinctly recall outfielder Jeff Francoeur being quoted during Spring Training and saying something to the effect, “We really like the balance on this team. And, we also really like being underestimated by the experts. Some are even saying we'll finish as low as fourth place. Ha. We'll see,” he said with a smile. Well, guess what? The Mets are indeed mired in fourth place and Francouer is gone with the wind, having been traded to the Texas Rangers.

Now, let's turn to the hapless Jets. Led by head coach Rex Ryan and coming off a surprising run to the AFC championship game last season, the Jets have been bold and brash, predicting nothing less than a Super Bowl victory. Their trash-talking swagger was brilliantly captured by HBO's 'Hard Knocks' series and further exacerbated by countless articles quoting Ryan and others as saying that anything less than a Super Bowl win would be considered a failure.

Well, the offense failed badly in Monday night's season opener and the brashness and bravado went darker than a coal mine collapse in Chile. Further undermining the 'image' of these new, Super Bowl-bound Jets was a weekend story about player harassment of a female Mexican sportscaster.

It seems to me a communication strategy should be based upon facts and results, not projections of what might be. We sometimes come to verbal blows with clients in media training sessions over this very issue. They want to talk about soon being masters of the universe in their particular field. We push back, knowing a jaded media will laugh at such hyperbole.

It's a shame sports teams don't provide better counseling to coaches and players about messaging that sets false expectations. Naturally, there's a need to generate fan excitement and sell tickets but, at least with the Mets and Jets, the communications strategies seem to always parallel the end result. Whether it's a “…You just wait and see” or “…We're on a one-way ride to the Super Bowl,” neither team seems able to deliver on its communications strategy (or win a championship, for that matter).