What Are the Chances?

The cascade of player problems brought on by revelation of Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice’s abuse of his then-fiancee has unsettled companies and brands along with the National Football League. The Wall Street Journal reported on September 18, 2014, for example, that Nike has ended endorsement deals with two players while Target Corp. has pulled merchandise. Campbell Soup Co., Procter & Gamble Co., PepsiCo. Inc. and other large advertisers have gone public with distress.

For a brand engaging National Football League stars, the New York Times’ September 13, 2014 report titled “What Database Shows About Player Arrests” is probably an alarming one. According to the Times’ calculations, from January 2000 through September 2014, the league’s 32 teams have averaged 22 players arrested, cited or charged with a crime. Not all arrests led to convictions but each public charge must have unsettled any brand associated with the athlete.

The Times report goes on to assert that one in 40 NFL players is arrested annually.

Is this human failure confined to professional sports?

Of course not.

No matter how impressively well-dressed and presentable high level business executives may appear at the time they take on their responsibilities for company performance and value, they are human beings. If the pressures or weaknesses that cause character flaws in the general population hold, companies run the risk that the great responsibilities are being placed in the hands of men and women capable of sad, highly destructive failure.

Most will not succumb. Yet, the numbers of those failing – and perhaps failing suddenly – are notable.

They gamble, they drink heavily, they rely on drugs of many varieties, they steal, violate trusts, become prey to sexual urges. . . and in other ways fail their companies as well as themselves.

What are the chances?

According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, binge drinkers (five drinks consumed) and heavy drinkers (dependent) in the U.S. include more than 44 million people employed full or part-time. The same survey counted 15 million employed users of illicit drugs.

President Abraham Lincoln excused the whiskey consumption of the General Grant who finally had Union troops accomplishing results. But Ulysses S. Grant was rare. So are investors and customers and workforces able to overlook an executive’s flaws. (Posted September 25, 2014)