NFL Players and Social Media; A Public Relations Nightmare

By: Johnny Kleissas

In today’s world, we see professional sports teams trying to reach their target audience and expand their audience through social media. Social media and professional sports go hand-in-hand. Athletes realize by branding themselves on social media showcasing their personality off the field, it leads to followers, endorsements and more money. The NBA (National Basketball Association) has been about all star players not teams for a while and it’s worked for them. It is something that the NFL (National Football League) has tried to emulate and it has worked for them, not so much their teams. The NBA markets their fans to certain players, not teams such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant. NBA fans are loyal to these players not so much the franchises they play for anymore, and the NBA takes full advantage of that from a marketing perspective.

The NFL is the most popular professional sport in America (and it’s not even close). They are a different story then all the other professional sports leagues in America. For sports organizations these players on social media talking too much can lead to more problems, especially in the NFL. Players like Juju, Baker Mayfield, and Odell Beckham Jr. are all players that are very well known on social media they never are afraid to express their opinion. All of these players have had verbal confrontations with other players on Twitter in the past and that has led to head storylines for games on Sunday. It almost seems like they are taking the spotlight away from their team and making it about themselves versus that other player. For an NFL organization that can be a marketing blessing but also a front office nightmare. 

The advantages are clear, these players are larger than life personalities and have received millions in endorsement deals because of their personalities. These players can be who they want to be and make money outside of football that is their right and they are taking full advantage of their talent. Each franchise is trying to create their own social media personality in this era to gain fans of their own. Baker Mayfield went to Twitter to express his displeasure with the Giants drafting Duke Quarterback Daniel Jones in the first round. Baker said on Twitter “I cannot believe the Giants took Daniel Jones. Blows my mind. … Some people overthink it. That’s where people go wrong. They forget you’ve gotta win.” Baker takes these shots at players he doesn’t have any issues with and expresses his opinion on a lot of topics which has put a target on his back for other NFL teams. The Cleveland Browns have gone from America’s loveable loser with a bright future, to become television drama series that looks like a tragedy. Antonio Brown has to be the best example for a player that just couldn’t put the phone down. He was arguably the best Wide Receiver in the NFL and has made himself impossible to have on your team, just by what he says on social media.

Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. The National Football league has used all of these to market to their fans. They showcased their players on social media for being more than just football players but actual people too. These teams love to brag about their on social media superstars that make unhuman plays and get their fans to go out and by their jerseys. Somewhere along the line the players wanted more freedom and more say and wanted their voices to be heard. At what point does a team say enough is enough? At what point does it go back to winning football games as a team and being a part of something bigger than yourself? These are questions NFL have to ask themselves every day.

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