The NFL's Evolving Player-Suicide Crisis
This weekend’s tragic murder suicide by Kansas City Chiefs football player Jovan Belcher underscores several linked issues that are increasingly relevant to the National Football League as a whole:
· As the 4th suicide among NFL players this year, and the 6th in the past two years, it’s clear the NFL has a growing problem with guns and violence on its hands.
· Belcher’s reported degenerative brain disease may or may not have played a part in his fatal argument with girlfriend Kasandra Perkins. But there is a thread of psychological depression, severe physical ailments, and/or abusive behavior among these NFL player suicides.
· Lawsuits have been filed by former players against the NFL for abuse in failing to properly protect them from, and treat them for the physical and mental toll the game takes on them.
All of which underscores what we at CommCore advise our crisis communications clients: when an issue occurs frequently enough to be more than an aberration, it falls into the “predictable” category that should result in the following actions:
· Internal organizational awareness and admission that a serious enough problem exists that it can evolve into a crisis any time it occurs
· Crisis response and communications planning and simulations to test the speed and effectiveness of organization readiness on an ongoing basis
· C-suite visibility and genuine expressions of concern to ensure the public and all stakeholders (players, families, sponsors, vendors, fans, etc.) that any specific incident and related issues are being taken seriously and are being addressed
· Aggregation of credible and independent 3rd parties to validate all efforts to remedy the problem