Crisis Management Case Study: Miami Dolphins Bullying

Erik Bernstein crisis communication, crisis communications, crisis management, Crisis Prevention, crisis public relations, Crisis Response, Erik Bernstein, Jonathan Bernstein, PR, public relations, reputation management, sports crisis management 1 Comment

Ugly voicemail sparks full-fledged investigation of bullying complaints

The NFL’s Miami Dolphins are in full-on crisis management mode following revelations of excessive bullying of rookie players by veterans on the team. The situation came to light after rookie lineman Jonathan Martin left the team, citing mental issues caused by veteran Richie Incognito.

If there was any doubt as to whether this was an innocent sports hazing where Martin was made to carry vet’s bags, wash smelly pads or had suds dumped in his locker, reports of a voicemail left by Incognito, quoted here from an article, made short work of it:

“Hey, wassup, you half n—– piece of s—. I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. [I want to] s— in your f—ing mouth. [I’m going to] slap your f—ing mouth. [I’m going to] slap your real mother across the face [laughter]. F— you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.”

The Dolphins have already suspended Incognito, and rumors are swirling that team ownership is done with him. We fully expect Miami to give Incognito the boot the moment the NFL’s official investigation, launched shortly after the story made headlines, is complete, and assume that legal concerns regarding due process are the only thing stopping them from making the announcement right now.

Professional sports teams are no strangers to crisis management, and they have the budgets to really do it right when they feel their reputations are about to take a beating. Don’t be surprised if you see a major anti-bullying campaign from Miami in the near future as they do their best to at least break even in terms of stakeholder’s perceptions.

Erik Bernstein
Social Media Manager

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