Marv Albert: Tooth and Consequences
A three-point plan to help the sportscaster get out of foul trouble
Can Marv Albert’s career be saved? In short: yes! Conventional wisdom would suggest that pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of assault and battery and subsequently getting fired by NBC after 20 years would seriously hamper one’s future job options. But despite all the seamy allegations in his case (biting a woman’s back, rough sex, cross-dressing, kinky threesomes, yada yada yada … ), there are signs that the sportscaster could work again. In a poll conducted by the New York Daily News last week, 72 percent of his New York fans said they’d still watch a game called by Albert. And NBC Sports president Dick Ebersol, the man who fired Albert, went on record as saying he’d consider rehiring the announcer if Albert were able to ”get his life back.” So the more important question is, How?
STEP 1: Call a time-out. Rather than speed-dialing Larry King to tell his side of the story, Albert should instead do a media duck and cover. ”The good first step is to do absolutely nothing,” says Bob Williams, president of Burns Sports, a marketing firm. ”He should stay out of the spotlight for an extended period of time — I think it’s got to be a year.” After all, says sports and entertainment attorney Darcy Bouzeos, ”today’s hot topic ends up being tomorrow’s old news.”
To that end, Albert has one thing working in his favor: The traditional scandal channels (movies-of-the-week and quickie books) aren’t showing much interest in his case. ”It’s very unlikely that someone would buy his story right now,” says producer Michael Jaffe, who produced Amy Fisher: My Story for NBC. Jaffe points out that much of the graphic imagery disclosed during the case — such as Albert dressed up in women’s underwear — would be a tough sell on the small screen. ”People would be too uncomfortable with it,” he says. Charles Spicer, senior editor at St. Martin’s Press, which rapidly churned out books on Andrew Cunanan and JonBenét Ramsey, agrees: ”I don’t see a book in it at all. What happened was more sad than dramatic.”
STEP 2: Take one for the team. Being a star means never having to say you’re sorry — unless you want to get work outside of modeling No Excuses jeans. After his out-of-the-spotlight penance, a widespread mea culpa could vastly improve Albert’s public standing. ”He needs to announce that he’s going into counseling to deal with some of these issues,” says Michael Sitrick, who runs a PR firm that specializes in crisis management. And a sincere and teary-eyed TV chat couldn’t hurt. ”At the appropriate time, he can make a public apology through a one-on-one interview, à la Barbara Walters or Diane Sawyer,” says Bouzeos. ”When people take responsibility for their actions, it’s easier to forgive them.”
STEP 3: Get back in the game. The public’s short attention span cuts both ways, and analysts say Albert should return to the booth before his 15 minutes of shame are all America remembers. ”What he has to do, in time, is reestablish himself as a sports figure,” says Kevin Donnellon, head of a sports-marketing/public relations firm. ”[Once] he can get back [to sportscasting], he can start regaining his credibility.” At first, Albert might have to mark time in smaller venues while he gauges interest from the networks. ”Marv’s fundamental popularity and abilities aren’t really diminished,” says agent Art Kaminsky, who handles sportscasters Chris Berman and Dan Dierdorf. ”Given the appropriate amount of time, someone should find some nice work for him, at least in the Northeast or on cable.”