Here’s some recent examples not to follow.
1. Tiki Barber
The rap against him: Self-obsessed ex-football player who dumped his pregnant wife to run off with an NBC intern. Now plotting a return to the gridiron, four years after retiring.
The smart approach: Barber should keep his mouth shut and let his on field performance do the talking.
What’d he did: Sat down for a lengthy HBO Real Sports interview explaining that after losing his broadcasting job he has suddenly discovered that he “needs” football. What’s worse, he followed that with a lengthy interview on WFAN radio. Barber insisted that his agent be on the line with him and angrily debated whether he had been fired by NBC. Not a good way to demonstrate humility.
2. Mitt Romney
The rap against him: Thought not to be a man of the people. A patrician millionaire out of touch with potential voters in the 2012 presidential election.
The smart approach: Don’t tell us you are a man of the people. Show us by your actions.
What he did: Jokingly described himself as “unemployed”– an attempt at humor that fell flat. Then, when out campaigning, looked in his wallet for a couple dollars to give a kid and struggled to find anything smaller than a $100 bill.
3. Ron Artest
The rap against him: Known as an eccentric, erratic and outspoken NBA basketball player most famous for his role in a 2004 brawl in which he went into the stands at a game in Detroit hitting a fan who he thought (incorrectly) was the person who threw soda at him while he was laying down on the scorers table. Artest was suspended for the remainder of the season missing 86 games. Although he has avoid anything quite so dramatic since — Artest has continued to be controversial.
The smart approach: Act normal. Do good deeds. (Artest has done some of this, annoucing that he was donating much of his salary in 2010-2011 to various mental health charities)
What he did: Petitioned L.A. County Superior Court to allow him to change his name to “Metta World Peace.”
At least it wasn’t the worst name change idea that came to light this week. Media accounts say that documents found in Usama bin Laden’s hideout suggest that the terrorist leader had considered changing the name of his Al Qa’ida organization because they have gotten some (exceedingly well-deserved) bad ink.