Look out Brett Favre, here comes Ari Fleischer

Yesterday evening, NPR’s Mike Pesca had a great story on “All Things Considered” about the Brett Favre saga. Here’s the lede:

Brett Favre retired in March, waivered in April, denied rumors through June, unretired in July, and now that it’s August, he’s back in training camp.

You have to wonder how Favre’s public relations person is handling this drama. How could they have any credibility left with the reporters who cover the NFL? Or what about Jeff Blumb, the PR director for the Green Bay Packers? His employer isn’t entirely blameless.

Tonight the Washington Post reports in a story for Wednesday’s paper that the Packers are pursuing a trade to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which would mark an end to the 16 year association between Favre and Green Bay.

Here’s how the Post quoted Packers Coach Mike McCarthy speaking at a news conference earlier today:

I’m not doing the PR thing any more,” McCarthy said. “I’m coaching the football team. The football team is moving forward. The train has left the station. Use any analogy you want. He needs to jump on the train or, if he can’t get past all the things that have happened, I have to keep the train moving. . . . It’s emotional for him, very personal. I don’t want to speak for Brett. I respect the way he feels. He’s in a tough spot. . . . The path to get to where we are has done some damage.

The trouble for McCarthy is as an NFL coach, he has to do the “PR Thing.” After all, he’s helping to run a multi-million dollar business with tremendously loyal customers.

Former Bush White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer now owns his own sports PR firm

Former Bush White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer now owns his own sports PR firm

It sounds like Mr. Blumb, the Packers’ PR director, realized his employer has taken a hit in the media and he’s fighting back. Today Bloomberg News reported that the Packers have retained former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer to advise them how to handle the media relations issues surrounding Favre.

I’ll be interested to see how Mr. Fleischer’s expertise in guiding President Bush’s communications team will translate into the world of professional sports.

If you were Ari Fleischer, what would you advise your client to do next?


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