After watching the NFL draft last week, a few things popped into my head. Of course there was joy for the Oregon players that were drafted.  Then after watching the interviews of the top picks, I got to wondering what is the media training these guys recieve? It’s no secret that there is an extensive background process into every aspect of future player’s background (ex: Dolphin’s GM Jeff Ireland’s now infamous question to draft-pick Dez Bryant, “Is your mom a prostitute?” ).  Teams treat future players as business investments, and assessing their background in attempts to figure out how they will handle themselves in the future is very important to them.  Considering this and the emphasis on positive imaging, there must be some extensive media training to make sure these future NFL players look like future role models and poster boys for the league.

After a little research, I discovered Don Yaeger, media guru and former Sports Illustrated editor who is also the  mastermind behind media training boot camp for NFL players.  This years players included top picks Sam Bradford and Gerald McCoy, along with 26 other players.

His main message to they guys? “You are a brand.”  He compares the branding of players to any other brands, such as Starbucks or Mercedes (Terrell Owens= Toyota?). Speaking to the press is a business opportunity, he tells the guys, because through the media is how one primarily builds their “brand.”  This is beneficial to the player because a positive “brand,” or image, creates higher stock value…a.k.a more teams want this type of guy and more corporations want his face to represent their own brand, all which equals money in the bank.

One of the things Yaeger teaches is how to use words that players  want associated with their “brand.” After learning all this, I went back and watched Sam Bradford’s post-draft interviews to see the Sam Bradford “brand.”

The brand elements I get from this interview: Humble, family-oriented, a kid with dreams coming true. Seems like his media training worked, and someone a team might want to invest in aside for reasons other than his talent.

I think it is crucial for this intensive media training at the beginning of a players career  because it’s hard to redeem yourself with the media and fix a tarnished image. Oh and million-dollar endorsements don’t seem too bad either.

What do you think of the idea of “branding” young NFL players?

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