Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller has damaged his off-field image this year, and he should be desperately trying to repair it. Miller reportedly tried to circumvent the league's drug testing, was caught and suspended six games. Traffic violations are normally minor, but Miller was arrested in August for failing to appear for traffic court.
On Monday, Miller's attorney appeared in his place for one of Miller's traffic violations, except the presiding magistrate denied Miller's request to waive his appearance last Friday according to the Denver Post. Miller had to leave the team's training facility to go next door to the Arapahoe County Court to plead guilty to minor traffic violations.
Miller has only played in two games since returning from his six-game suspension, and he's already grabbing headlines for all the wrong reasons. While Miller's return to the field has been seamless, rebuilding his image will be more difficult, and he's off to a rocky start.
Yes, traffic court is minor, but it's still court. Why would Miller or his attorney think the presiding magistrate would be okay with him skipping the court date when he had a prior arrest for failing to appear? Why would Miller or his attorney even take that chance when he was two minutes away?
Even if the request was submitted, shouldn't Miller's attorney have been absolutely sure that Miller didn't have to appear? Isn't that what Miller is paying his attorney to do?
On one hand, this is much ado about nothing. It's traffic court, Miller's attorney screwed up and he was still able to plead guilty. Miller's attorney even took the blame for the mistake in court.
Miller should be able to put all of this behind him if he complies with the court order, but there is a bigger issue lurking beneath the surface. Miller and his attorney have failed to understand how every detail and minor mistake is going to be magnified in the weeks, months and years following his drug suspension and arrest for failure to appear.
Not many players are good enough to turn their name into a profitable brand, but Miller is one of them. When a company receives negative publicity—even for something minor or that wasn't its fault—it is still responsible for minimizing the damage and repairing any ensuing damage.
In order for Miller to repair his public image, he needs to surround himself with the best and brightest attorneys, a good public relations and marketing agency and a sharp personal assistant. That's what any good brand would do.
Miller also wants to be a poultry tycoon and has the name recognition and educational background to make it happen. The only thing that is going to keep Miller from becoming a successful brand is a poor public image.
Miller and those that are advising him need to keep his name out of the headlines for the wrong reasons, or at least provide some balance to the coverage. Imagine how things could have gone differently had Miller showed up to court, pleaded guilty and already had his community service lined up at a children's hospital over the bye week.
Miller could have issued a short statement afterward saying how he looks forward to putting this behind him and that he looks forward to his community service. Maybe donate a few signed footballs, and post some pictures on your twitter page.
Miller can't try to passively rebuild his image, nor can he have those responsible for assisting him making boneheaded mistakes. Miller needs to approach rebuilding his image with the same fervor he displays while rushing the quarterback.
The Broncos will get a long weekend because they are on their bye week, and Miller should use that time to complete his court-ordered 24 hours of community service. It's going to be a lot harder for him to find the time during the rest of the season without taking time away from the team.
Wouldn't that be a nice gesture by Miller to the fans? Any good public relations agency would ensure that news also trickled into the news stream. Maybe Miller makes that a regular thing, maybe down the line Miller has a children's hospital named after him like his teammate Peyton Manning.
After the events of today, it's pretty clear that Miller's attempt to rebuild the trust of the public is off to a rocky start. Miller still has time, but just like the Broncos Super Bowl run, the time is now.