The image repair strategies of Terrell Owens


Terrell Owens presents perhaps one of the most interesting challenges in sports public relations. Widely considered one of the National Football League's most talented athletes, he is also widely criticized as one of its most self-centered. When the Philadelphia Eagles refused to renegotiate his contract after one season, he became sullen with the press, belligerent with the coaching staff, and publicly critical of his team and quarterback. As a result, the Eagles deactivated Owens. Owens and his agent then attempted to repair the damage in a press conference, which is the subject of this study. On the whole, the press conference was a tremendous failure. Although Owens displayed a contrite demeanor, emphasizing mortification and bolstering strategies, he hurt his case by sidestepping the blame for the conflict. Rosenhaus sealed his client's fate by launching numerous indignant attacks against Owens' accusers, and appearing aggressive and arrogant when employing bolstering and mortification strategies. Both men painted Owens as the victim, and neither discussed any corrective action Owens planned to take in order to prevent future conflicts. Ultimately, their rhetoric demonstrated a complete failure to understand the culture of team sport, which demands unity, commitment, and sacrifice, and failed to earn Owens' reinstatement.



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Public Relations Review