How do apologize after a groin kick?

November 9, 2006

I missed the big Seahawks-Raiders game because I was in LA, but I did manage to catch on replay the kick to the groin of Jeramy Stevens administered by Raider DE Tyler Brayton. My interest is not in the act or what may have provoked it, but in how he apologized. Here’s the take on it by the News Tribune.

Not sure what you think but this seemed an impressive performance by Mr. Brayton and some important lessons learned for companies, celebrities or others who may find themselves needing to publicly apologize. First, he offered no excuses. He accepted full responsibility. He didn’t say, “I’m sorry, but he made me do it…” Sure, he hinted there was provocation, but no one can say he didn’t take responsibility for his action.

What is more impressive is the reporter kept trying to get him to make that mistake. Look at the questions. “Were you provoked?” And when he didn’t fall for that, the reporter made another run at getting him to try and blame Stevens: “Did Stevens try to strike you first?”

The reporter tried other ways to get Brayton to be defensive, blame someone else, or diminish his apology.

The other thing that was impressive was talking about his grandparents at the game. This showed more than anything that he was personally and deeply embarrassed and sorry for what he did. Hey, the thought of that being the last time his grandparents see him play and that’s the way they remember him playing. Who couldn’t hurt for the guy?

I have said it here before but it bears repeating. People are amazingly willing to forgive and forget. But only when they are convinced that someone is really sorry. An honest apology without reservations, without the “yeah, but..” without excuses, goes a long, long way. And don’t expect reporters to make it easy on you to do that. Especially if the reporter is pulling for the other team.

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