Washington Commanders’ Sean Taylor memorial an epic fail

Washington Commanders' Sean Taylor memorial an epic fail

This is how Washington chose to remember its former star

That is how Washington selected to recollect its former star
Picture: AP

Over the weekend, the Washington Commanders revealed a brand new “statue” memorializing Sean Taylor, a former security who performed for the group from 2004-07, incomes two Professional Bowl nods earlier than his demise at 24 years previous. Taylor was an outstanding younger expertise, family-oriented, and a hell of a workhorse on the sphere.

Previous to the “statue” unveiling, the Commanders had tried, in years previous, to honor Taylor’s reminiscence. In 2021, the Commanders retired his No. 21 jersey previous to a matchup with the Chiefs. Other than the ceremony, Washington additionally printed a big “21″ on the aspect of the sphere, sectioned off by plastic white chains. The ceremony was overshadowed by controversy although when Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ annoying brother, Jackson Mahomes, took a video of himself dancing atop the “21″ meant to honor Taylor’s legacy, and promptly posted mentioned video to social media.

This controversy led a number of individuals throughout the Commanders’ entrance workplace to imagine Taylor wanted one other, extra correct memorialization, one which wasn’t burdened with unexpected controversy. Enter the “statue.” I’ve been placing citation marks round that phrase as a result of the top end result wasn’t as a lot a statue because it was a wiry model with a number of points of Taylor’s particular person being supposedly misrepresented.

This was the final consensus, one among disgust, contempt, and flat-out disappointment. Amid all of the poorly-handled controversies the Commanders had endured during the last three or so years — the cheerleader electronic mail scandal, staff proprietor Dan Snyder threatening to launch “grime” on different NFL homeowners and commissioner Roger Goodell, former first-round choice Dwayne Haskins’ tragic demise — the franchise was handed a public relations layup with Sean Taylor’s memorial. How onerous may or not it’s to mess up honoring a fallen teammate? Construct a statue. Put it entrance and heart throughout the staff’s stadium or simply outdoors it, and voila, the general public would cheer endlessly. Properly, apparently, it’s fairly simple.

Regardless of the general public’s dissatisfaction with the Taylor statue, members of Taylor’s interior circle appeared greater than happy with this memorial. Taylor’s half-brother, Jamal Johnson, acknowledged “It’s an honor, like I mentioned, as soon as once more it’s an honor to get that sort of love and respect from a company.” Taylor’s daughter, Jackie Taylor, expressed comparable content material, saying, “It was lovely, actually. They put every little thing that he wore — soccer cleats, little issues that had been particular to him and that he did as a participant. That was actually particular.”

A facet of the statue that many of the public appeared to despise, Taylor’s household cherished most of all. Whilst I write this now, most informal followers who’ve seen the statue are upset concerning the soccer cleats. That may be a failure on the top of the Washington Commanders. They did not correctly talk to followers what they had been doing with every a part of the memorial. Whereas the identical protection can’t be made for the black gloves that may be made for the soccer cleats, I’d hesitate to imagine that call was made unexpectedly and with out thought, as many individuals assumed with the soccer cleats.

Nonetheless, many questions stay. The Commanders would’ve been praised in the event that they’d simply constructed a traditional bronze or copper or stone statue, simply because the Arizona Cardinals did for Pat Tillman when he was killed, or the Philadelphia Eagles did to commemorate the “Philly Particular” play that helped them win their first Tremendous Bowl, so why didn’t they try this? What steps may the Commanders have taken to restrict backlash from the statue? Did the Commanders’ horrible public picture play a task within the huge public backlash the group acquired after unveiling the statue?

I spoke with Dustin York, associate professor of Communication at Maryville College, on the matter. York has an in depth historical past in public relations, having labored with notable manufacturers equivalent to Nike, PepsiCo., and Scottrade Monetary Providers, in addition to former President Barack Obama’s 2008 political marketing campaign. York’s preliminary response to the statue was the identical as most of us — crammed with disappointment. Nevertheless, as extra info concerning the memorial’s design decisions got here to mild together with his household’s response, York’s disappointment shifted from pinning the blame on your entire Commanders’ group to pinning the blame on the group’s PR staff.

York expressed his discontent with the Commanders’ lack of transparency in addition to inside communication earlier than the statue’s unveiling. “Whether or not there’s hierarchy points or technique points, the interior communication with this group has not lived as much as the benchmark different groups have set,” mentioned York. “This occasion clearly lacked oversight. It in all probability didn’t even endure pink teaming.”

Pink teaming is “the apply of rigorously difficult plans, insurance policies, programs, and assumptions by adopting an adversarial strategy.” Basically, an thought is introduced forth and a bunch of individuals will tear it aside limb from limb searching for any angle that the general public may misconstrue as poor style. This group ought to, in an ideal world, discover any flaw or lack of transparency that may trigger an outcry from followers for being insensitive, traditionally inaccurate, or in any other case distasteful. York has expertise working on this side of PR, and was discouraged by the Commanders’ apparent oversteps concerning these fundamental advertising and marketing guidelines.

“I don’t know in the event that they’re not paying for it, or in the event that they’re paying for the improper individuals,” cried York. “However these golden guidelines of laying out these plans and processes aren’t being adopted.” York expressed much more dismay concerning the Commanders’ lack of transparency concerning the choice to place Taylor’s statue in soccer cleats. “Even [Taylor’s] daughter mentioned that the soccer footwear represented his hobbies. That was the intention behind that call. It was alleged to symbolize his hobbies. [The Commanders] didn’t even talk that nicely. So now rumors are going round that they simply tousled. ‘Why would you even decide soccer?’ So, even with the issues they did ‘proper’, the staff isn’t speaking these choices after which they’re seen in a foul mild.”

Clearly, rolling this model out as a memorial was a dangerous determination, given the straightforward house run {that a} bronze or stone statue would’ve been. Why not give Taylor that send-off that followers would have thought-about worthy of Taylor’s legacy? “I don’t have that precise reply,” admitted York. “Timing might be the most certainly wrongdoer. I imply, the Commanders have confronted a whole lot of different crises just lately, so maybe this memorial was given the back-burner. I’m positive this was deliberate out a 12 months in the past, however due to different tales and points surrounding the staff, maybe one thing like this that was alleged to be a fan relations softball, was delay to offer sources and a focus to different, extra quick, pressing issues.”

Dan Snyder and the Commanders’ poor public picture in all probability additionally performed a task in how poorly the Taylor model was acquired. “It’s all the time simple to beat up on the troubled youngster. Anytime any group has had a collection of crises, every other small misstep goes to shine an enormous highlight on them.” York continued, “If this occurred to the Dallas Cowboys, let’s say, would it not have gotten as a lot dangerous press? I wouldn’t suppose so. Consider it like this. If there’s an NFL participant that’s recognized for being soiled, do you suppose the refs would hold a better eye on him, and name penalties on that participant faster? Completely, as a result of there’s a historical past. The identical fundamental idea is going on right here.”

Regardless of York believing the Commanders’ Taylor memorial was higher than most individuals will give it credit score for, he doesn’t imagine the staff is finished honoring No. 21. “What the Commanders are actually looking for is a PR win, and I wouldn’t be shocked if there’s one thing else deliberate down the road, as a result of this clearly was not a win.” If that’s the case, hopefully, the Commanders will evaluate their choices somewhat extra totally earlier than rolling them out.


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