PR Nightmares (?): The Curious Case of Sean Salisbury

September 25, 2009

Is Sean Salisbury crazy, or crazy like a fox?

The answer could lie in a question many of you might be asking right now: “Who the heck is Sean Salisbury?”

Salisbury was a middling pro quarterback who logged 10 largely forgotten years in the NFL and CFL from 1987 to 1996. Subsequently, he became a middling in-studio football analyst for ESPN, building a largely forgotten broadcasting career at the network that came to an abrupt halt in 2008. Although Salisbury claimed the decision to leave was his because he felt he wasn’t being paid his due, rumors flew that one of the reasons that led to his departure was a suspension for showing a cell-phone picture of his most private of areas to several women. Salisbury denies, and continues to deny, that allegation, but the blogosphere, which has followed this story as if it were the Watergate tapes, is not inclined to believe him.

Salisbury bounced around after leaving his ESPN, turning up on a Dallas radio station, where he was recently fired for what some suspect was more alleged shady behavior. Salisbury again claimed innocence.

Sean_Salisbury_200x200Now Salisbury is on the legal attack. But although he claims to have hired a high-powered lawyer and a high-powered PR firm to help him take down his enemies and restore his tattered reputation (while he claims to be writing a book that will reveal secrets that will take several ESPN personalities down, which would seem to open him up to charges of contradiction), you have to wonder about what is really going on.

The question is, what high-powered lawyer or PR firm would ever allow a client to send a flood of barely literate, threatening and ultimately incredibly loopy iPhone messages to prominent sports blog Deadspin, which has breathlessly and snarkily reported Salisbury’s strange career arc for years now?

Here’s the thing: Salisbury knew Deadspin would post his messages. In fact, as you can see in his correspondence, he practically goads them to do so. So is this an incredibly disturbed individual, or is this really a viral marketing campaign for Sean Salisbury 2.0, the fantastically unhinged sports broadcasting personality? Is Sean Salisbury on a campaign to become the Glenn Beck of sports?

Is this a PR nightmare or PR genius? Only time (and presumably much more poor grammar, spelling and sentence structure) will tell.

We’ll have a good idea if he’s ever pitching iPhones.

Posted by Joe Paone