No…Let me set the record straight

In the never-ending relationship saga that is Robert Griffin III (“RG III”) vs. the Washington Redskins, the relationship has taken yet another U-turn and headed into on-coming traffic on the Washington Beltway. While not publically commenting on losing the starting quarterback job to Kirk Cousins, RG III’s social media account is the latest example of yet another athlete allowing an unqualified individual to steer their career into a head on collision with an employer and an industry. Sigh. In the words of Carrie Underwood – “Jesus take the wheel.”

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It always baffles me how this type of snafu coincidentally occurs at such an alarming rate in these industries. For those of you who are unaware of the story, RG III, via his social media account appeared to “like” an Instagram post that ripped Washington Redskins’, owner Dan Snyder and the front office while lauding RG III. When questioned regarding this issue RG III responded….via Instagram….with this image and this quote:

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I just wanted to set the record straight on this one. I did not “like” that IG post ridiculing our team. I have not been social media active consistently for awhile now and am ultra-focused on working to get back on the field and trying to help this team. One of our interns who helps with Instagram liked the post. As soon as I was made aware of it, it was immediately unliked. That is not how I feel and I appreciate your understanding. – Robert Griffin III
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Ok. So sounds simple enough huh? Wrong. It makes no logical sense why athletes continue to speed down the social media highway with an unqualified and unlicensed driver, with so much on the line from an legal, business and image perspective. When I advise my athlete and entertainer cliental regarding the legal and image related ramifications of social media it is a simple conversation: “Only you control you.” When you are entrusted with such a large platform and everyone is hanging on every word that you say, you have to be overly careful what you say – and you never entrust such a vital component of your brand to someone you barely know or is star struck by who you are. From a business and legal perspective you are asking for trouble. Yes, you have free speech “rights” – but those “rights” are being judged in the court of public opinion, not that building where you begrudgingly show up for jury duty. Interns should not be responsible for determining where the brand that is you is headed. Period. That is insane.

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Think about it from this perspective. If a major highly public company X decided to entrust their social media well being to their intern pool and said intern pool accidently agreed with the public undressing of let’s say the major highly public company X’s CEO, heads would roll and shareholders would demand legal compensation. So what’s the difference? Athletes are to themselves major highly public companies – brands of commerce. Athletes and entertainers today make more in endorsement deals than they do in their actual playing/entertaining contracts. It is a huge revenue stream. So why would you entrust the mouthpiece of that huge revenue stream to an intern? It reckless. Yet it happens every day in the athlete and entertainment communities. Every week there is the red-faced declaration, “I have been hacked” or “It wasn’t me” defense when it comes to social media. On Wall Street and in the business community this type of recklessness would never be tolerated. But hey, when you are rich, young and famous it takes more than a little snafu like raising the ire of your employer and jeopardizing your brand/revenue stream to change that behavior right? Because all I have to do is stand by the scene of the accident, jump back on Instagram and claim that now…now I am setting the record straight of what I think/”like”…