Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New York Jets' Rex Ryan Needs to Take His Feet Out of His Mouth and Address Foot-Fetish Gate

The New York Jets' Rex Ryan needs to take his feet out of his mouth. Usually, when you hear the saying that someone has their foot in their mouth it means that they are saying things that are not very intelligent. However, in this instance, Ryan has figuratively put both of his feet in his mouth to intentionally avoid addressing what will become known as Foot-Fetish Gate.

According to Deadspin.com, a woman who looks very similar to Ryan's wife Michelle has been posting videos onto YouTube about feet fetishes. In addition, if you listen to one of the videos posted the voice sounds similar to Ryan's. The YouTube account ("ihavepretty feet") that originally contained these videos was so popular that YouTube allegedly terminated the account for terms of service violations.

Foot-Fetish Gate was on the Cover of today's New York Daily News. According to NJ.com, when Ryan was asked about the videos in a press conference today he stated, "This is a personal matter and I'm not going to discuss it. This is a personal matter, I hope you can respect the fact I don't want to discuss it."

Ryan should have followed the way Dave Letterman handled his social media situation when Letterman was blackmailed about his personal conduct last year. On December 2, 2009, I blogged about how well Letterman handled his social media crisis and stated that Tiger Woods should follow David Letterman's social media crisis playbook. David Letterman came out publicly very quickly on his show and admitted what had happened. Letterman's honest response made the story die very early in the news cycle with no apparent professional consequences.

In contrast, Tiger Woods for months refused to address his personal problems that became public soon after Thanksgiving 2009. Woods' handling of his social media crisis has derailed his career, cost him millions in sponsorship dollars and destroyed his marriage. The final chapter on Brett Favre's sexting scandal has not been written yet so it is too early to properly review his social media crisis response.

From the facts I have seen so far, it does not appear that Rex Ryan or his wife have engaged in any activity that could cause him legal problems. Therefore, I would advise Rex Ryan to come clean and make this a non-story quickly. Ryan may want to take a page from Hugh Grant's personal incident from 15 years ago when Grant was caught with a hooker. Grant did the talk show circuit and made light of the matter. Grant's career did not suffer because he apologized and acted sincere and audiences have embraced him ever since. If you win football games people generally don't care what you do in your spare time. Even then, the U.S. is a very forgiving country. For example, Michael Vick has resurrected his career due to his recent on the field play and his positive contributions to his surrounding community.

Since Ryan and his wife may only be guilty of poor decision making he should do a 180 as soon as possible and give a press conference that honestly addresses Foot-Fetish Gate before this weekend's NFL games begin. Nobody cares what Ryan and his wife do in their spare time as long as the Jets win. However, if the Jets lose this Sunday and don't make or go far in the playoffs Ryan and/or his wife's off the field activities may be further questioned. Personally, I can't wait to see and hear what the Chicago Bear fans will say to Ryan at this weekend's game. Are you ready for some football?

To learn how to properly handle a social media crisis you may contact me at http://www.shearlaw.com/.

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