The ecstacy and the agony of Andrew Johns' PR disaster

Football player abuses drink, drugs and the excessive money he makes; we’ve seen it all before, eh (George Best, Tony Adams, Gary Ablett, Paul Gascoigne, Wendell Sailor…)? But here’s my PR take on the domino effect that results when one tarnised reputation has a knock on effect on all of those around it.
In the media interview, Joey looked like little boy lost.
Media lapdogs and rugby execs who turned a blind eye to newly retired rugby league star Andrew Johns longstanding alcohol, drug and gambling addictions (the unholy trinity of sports pros addiction) are NOW queuing up to praise ‘Joey’ for his courage and candour in admitting his drug problems and depression on a Channel 9 TV interview. But lets not forget one thing: When first challenged about his possession of ecstacy after being apprehended in London by policemen, Johns said the tablet was pushed into his pocket by an unknown man at The Church (a London nightclub), and that he had intended to get rid of it. Bad move from a PR viewpoint Joey; but the media have (again) been kindly forgetful over this. After all, THAT WAS A BIG FAT LIE!, I have been quietly informed that my ‘lie’ statement reveals a gap in my understanding of the nature of addiction. I’ve been informed that Johns’ behaviour is wholly consistent with that of an alcoholic/drug addict: People, I apologies for my harshness.
Media complicity is consistent with the kind of denial Johns has obviously gotten away with having abused substances throughout his pro playing career. Today (Sunday) a medico says Johns has suffered from bi-polar depression for years, rendering him susceptible to drug/alcohol abuse (tho I hear there are legit treatments for bi-polar).
Johns was tested 17 times, and avoided detection (calling into question the efficacy of the NRL testing process). Some say testers and the NRL turned a blind eye to Johns manifest addiction problems. NRL chief exec David Gallop said on radio he (plus Johns club and team-mates) was aware of rumours, whisper and innuendo (sic of drug use) of several players, but never personally followed these up. Why not David? Even if you couldn’t personally, shouldn’t you have insisted that someone working for you did? After all, PR disasters are increasingly creating domino effects, regarding reputations.Just look at this case’s stakeholders for example…
Andrew Johns – the retired League great – will now be remembered as a druggie
Newcastle Knights – the player’c club – will be viewed as an organisation that helped enable his addictions
The NRL – the sports governing body – an ineffective organisation that was asleep on its watch
The testers – how could they have failed to find even traces of substances over 17 tests?
His team-mates – revelations say that many were bitter about Johns errant lifestyle
His family – their concerns never managed to get on top of their desire to cover up for one of their own
The media – must’ve heard the stories, but didnt want to risk access to a sports great or to temper the adulation that helps them celebrate the hero they needed for their stories.
In this situation, what is journalism exactly? Just another lapdog, free-to-air comms channel?
Only second time round, did Andrew Johns get his story straight, this time saying:
“I know I’ve done the wrong thing (but) I stand by what I said, that some guy came up and put it in my pocket,” he said last night. But I knew what he was doing. I knew what it was. I was going to take it for sure.”
In a culture or environment that largely enables addictive behaviour, the fact that someone should be putting something in Johns’ pocket should come as no surprise. His indulgent stakeholder groupies round him have been, metaphorically, pissing in his pocket for years.
Good luck to Andrew Johns and best wishes to his family if his quest to seek recovery and overcome his depressive tendencies is genuine and heartfelt.

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