Brett Favre’s PR Crisis: A Tough Call

It turns out Brett Favre has a fetish other than retiring and un-retiring.

The Minnesota Vikings quarterback, it seems, is fond of sending unsolicited nude photos to women.

The NFL is investigating charges that Favre texted photos of his penis to former Jets sideline reporter Jenn Sterger, who left her job shortly after the incidents allegedly occurred. And she’s not alone – at least two other women have made similar charges.

A good summary of the scandal to date can be found here. Caution: the video at this link contains graphic images.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, the NFL could fine or suspend Mr. Favre, who could also face lawsuits and legal action.

Is it possible Mr. Favre is innocent? Well, sure – but it seems unlikely, as he’s refused every opportunity to deny the charges. Favre has not spoken about the charges against him, instead taking a page out of Tiger Woods’ inept crisis management playbook. When asked about the crisis last week, he essentially said, “no comment.”

In managing this crisis, Mr. Favre has to balance four competing concerns:

  1. Protecting his family (Favre is married, has two daughters and a grandson)
  2. Protecting his reputation
  3. Protecting his football career
  4. Protecting his legal standing

As the title of this article (“A Tough Call”) suggests, Mr. Favre has some difficult decisions to make. His attorneys are likely telling him to say nothing in order to reduce any future legal settlements and prevent possible legal actions. I can understand why Mr. Favre would want to follow that approach.

But by doing so, he is throwing his family and reputation to the wolves.

Withholding comment and failing to accept responsibility means the crisis will live a longer life. That means his family’s time in tabloid hell will be unnecessarily prolonged, and his legacy irrevocably tarnished.

There are no good choices here, just “less bad” ones. Perhaps Favre’s current strategy will allow him to hang on to his career and avoid a big financial settlement. But a quick admission of responsibility, followed by a long-overdue retirement, would likely provide Mr. Favre with the best long-term path to public and personal redemption.