Skeletons in the Closet: Avoiding Te’o and Armstrong’s Mistakes

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Posted At: February 27, 2013 9:02 P.M.
by Grayson Martin

The age-old adage, “if you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything,” has never been more true than it is now with the multiple cases of deceit leading to image meltdowns.

We are all very familiar with the recent stories of Lance Armstrong’s biking legacy falling from grace and the endless invisible girlfriend jokes associated with Notre Dame linebacker, Manti Te’o. Even though the instances associated with these two athletes came to light some time ago, they are both still dealing with the repercussions.

Even if you believe that Manti Te’o was honest from the very beginning and that he was only the victim of a horrible prank, there was still a timeframe when he and Notre Dame knew the girl did not exist. However, they continued to go along with the story. Te’o and Notre Dame had a fair chance to clear the air about the messy situation. Even so, they continued to give story after story about what had happened, with each account feeling stranger and stranger.

Te’o has since moved on from the college ranks and has started the grueling interviews and workouts that coincide with the NFL Combine. Te’o recently came face-to-face with the media at the NFL Combine, where he still had to carry the burden of his little white lies. One journalist joked with Te’o, asking if there were any NFL team representatives he had met with that did not ask him about his situation — Te’o’s answer was no. Everyone Te’o came across wanted to know about his non-existent relationship, he said.

This debacle could have been nipped in the bud early on if Te’o had stepped up and told the truth. Now the consequences of his actions will follow him wherever his professional career takes him.

No single person has taken a greater fall for his dishonesty than Lance Armstrong. Armstrong battled and denied accusations of using performance-enhancing drugs for years. He built up a cycling empire, winning seven Tour De France races and serving as the sole representative for his Nike apparel line, Livestrong. After years of denial, Armstrong finally confirmed his use of these illegal substances, and the empire that took years for him to build seemingly toppled overnight. He was stripped of his Tour De France titles and dropped from his Nike sponsorship.

The bad news has not stopped rolling in for Armstrong. News broke recently that the FBI may investigate possible charges of witness tampering and intimidation. It just goes to show that honesty is always the best policy.

Ethics and honesty are constantly preached to us while growing up, yet individuals still struggle with telling the truth in times of adversity. This concept is extremely important for PR professionals because we should always work to provide a positive image of our profession. It is easy to look around and see the negative consequences others are facing due to their poor choices. That should be enough motivation for us all to stay on the straight and narrow.

I have always thought that the way you handle yourself in times of crisis says more about you than never having a crisis in the first place. You show your true colors during times of trial.

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