Upon Further Review, the Viral Video Creates a Survivable Personal and Professional Crisis for the Jacksonville Jaguars Coach
10/5/21 – – Urban Meyer, the first-year coach of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, is revered in his home state of Ohio as “the pride of Ashtabula.” Last Thursday night, after his winless football team lost to the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati, Coach Meyer stayed in town to catch up with family, friends and fans.
The homecoming didn’t go so well.
Video footage of a young woman – not his wife – provocatively dancing close to Meyer as he sat at a bar that evening went viral over the weekend. Clearly, her “backfield was in motion,” and as a video from a second angle revealed, he was guilty of “illegal use of the hands.”
On Monday Meyer met with his team after apologizing to his family and Jaguars management, explaining that, “I should not have put myself in that kind of position.” He characterized the incident as “stupid” and a “distraction.”
Distractions are not good for professional sports teams, who should always be concentrating on winning the next game. It is said that legendary Yankees baseball manager Casey Stengel would always tell his players on the first day of spring training that he had one rule in his code of conduct: “When we’re on the road, don’t be waltzing the broads through the lobby.”
Casey, decades before the ubiquitous presence of smart phones with high-definition video capabilities, had the amoral judgment to know that indiscretions, should they come into public view, could turn into . . . distractions.
So, what does this mean for the Jaguars, Meyer and his family?
The team’s owner, Shad Khan, called Meyer’s conduct “inexcusable,” insisting that the coach must now “regain our trust and respect.” Khan also signaled patience and support, saying, “I appreciate Urban’s remorse,” adding that “I am confident he will deliver” on his commitments to the team.
Meyer shared that his family was very upset and disappointed in him, promising to follow through on his commitments to them as well.
I believe that unless messier facts about that evening emerge, Urban Meyer will survive this reputational storm.
Meyer immediately fessed up and didn’t question the authenticity of the video. He never criticized the dancer, who still has not been identified, or blamed her for his embarrassment.
If he were still coaching at the college level – he won national championships at both Florida and Ohio State – his job would be in much greater jeopardy. Being a good role model is not the highest responsibility in an NFL head coach’s or owner’s job description. It’s been reported that the Jaguars players laughed after Meyer apologized to them for the lap dancing incident.
And as I emphasize in The Crisis Preparedness Quotient, performance will be the most important determinant of Meyer’s future with the Jaguars. Performance is the surest, if not only path out of a crisis. If the Jaguars remain winless, the lingering fallout from the bar video will explode in importance. If Meyer rights the ship – and his extraordinary track record suggests that’s likely – all will be forgiven.
How this works out for his family is a private matter, and where Meyer should focus plenty of his attention. For them, this is far more than a “distraction.”
UPDATE: 10/6/21 – – The woman dancing in the Urban Meyer bar video has been identified as Cayman Nebraska (sounds like a character out of a James Bond thriller). It is being reported that the 20-something former Ohio State student might have first met the coach at a publicity photo shoot earlier this year. I’m sure there will be more info to come.