Meet Marc Tyler, the University of Southern California senior running back who learned this weekend that anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion. Apparently after a night of partying in Hollywood, a visibly intoxicated Tyler exited a club with his teammates and couldn’t resist hamming it up for the TMZ cameras.
Tyler starts by commenting on the long line of USC running backs, ending with “we all get in Kim Kardashian,” an obvious reference to former Heisman trophy (and later stripped) winner Reggie Bush of the New Orleans Saints. Tyler goes on to state that Arizona State has the hottest women in college and that USC stands for “University of Sexual Ballers.” Go ahead and let that marinate for a second and then we’ll move on.
But those weren’t the comments that ultimately got Tyler suspended from all team-related activities as well as the season opener on September 3. When asked who made more money, USC players or guys in the NFL, Tyler responded, “USC- they breaking bread!!”
Uh oh. Not the comments anyone from a school currently on probation in football AND basketball for providing extra benefits to student-athletes wants to hear. Tyler claimed to only be joking and has since apologized for the incident, but the damage has already been done.
Some have asked if the punishment fit the crime, as Tyler didn’t break any rules or laws with his unfortunate comments. Tyler, the projected starter at running back heading into his senior season with the Trojans, will likely fall behind many other talented running backs at USC during his indefinite suspension. However, as noted previously, athletes must understand that they are held to a higher standard regarding their off-the-field behavior. Coach Lane Kiffin acknowledged in a statement that Tyler didn’t break any rules, but that “he did not live up to the high standard that has been set for representing this university.” Tyler’s father, former UCLA and NFL running back Wendell Tyler also agreed with USC’s decision, likening it to someone talking bad about their own family.
A spotlight is placed on athletes the minute they turn on their computers to log into Facebook or Twitter, or walk out their doors to live their normal, everyday lives. Every move they make is scrutinized and likely to end up on ESPN as a topic of the day. Knowing this, athletes must be more careful in what they say or do on a regular basis. Tyler’s teammates tried to stop him from making the comments, blocking him from the cameras until he broke through and said the remarks anyway. Tyler damaged the USC brand, and they reacted the only way they knew how by suspending him. In the past, comments such as these would have been swept under the rug, but USC doesn’t need the NCAA sniffing around while they try to clean up their image from the previous regime.
So in the future, if you have to ask yourself whether or not you should Tweet or say something in public, it’s probably a good rule of thumb to NOT do it. Just a word of advice that applies to everyone.