Sportsroom editor Steve Deane knows a thing or two about media crisis management. A veteran journalist who has reported on crises for almost two decades, he’s also a gamekeeper-turned-poacher who moonlights as a sports Public Relations consultant in his spare time.
Here, Deane decodes the statement released by Kiwis forward Kevin Proctor after he was caught on CCTV snorting cocaine with Jesse Bromwich outside a bar after the Kiwis’ Anzac Test flogging
Proctor: “I have asked Graham (Annesley) to say how extremely embarrassed and sorry I am for the damage I’ve done to the game and my personal reputation since Friday night’s Test match in Canberra.”
Deane: This is curious. Proctor could have apologised himself. Instead he asked his boss to do so on his behalf. Unless you’re going to defend the indefensible, it’s PR 101 to show maximum contrition in the first person as soon as possible. It’s possible, then, that Proctor still feared legal consequences for his actions, so was advised against saying something like: “I took cocaine after the match and that was stupid of me.” As it happens, it seems the dealer Proctor and Bromwich purchased their gear from will be prosecuted, while the league stars will avoid legal sanction.
Proctor: “After the game we went back to the New Zealand team hotel and had a late dinner. After the dinner we went to a local club to have a few drinks. The rest of the night is a bit of a blur as I obviously had too much to drink before the incident that has caused all the trouble that happened much later in the night.”
Deane: The time at which Proctor ate his dinner wouldn’t appear to be overly relevant. Unless, of course, he is building the case for a truly lame excuse – that his body clock was all out of whack because he ate late, and that is the hardship guys like him have to endure to represent their country.
And then, of course, he had a couple of drinks and it all went to his head.
Piss poor excuse-making of the highest order. The mention of “a few drinks” followed by things becoming a bit of a blur is an insult to the intelligence that doubles down on the pointless excuse making. Terrible stuff.
Proctor: “Although I can’t remember exactly what happened, I don’t deny it.”
Deane: Not denying it is pretty much the only course of action when you’ve been caught white-nosed on CCTV – so that’s not exactly meritorious. The can’t remember it defence was clearly coming as soon as he mentioned things becoming a blur. This is, of course, unlikely. As anyone who has taken cocaine knows, it tends to sharpen the senses, mitigate the effects of excessive alcohol consumption and certainly does not create memory loss. Proctor has gone for the age-old alcohol-induced-automaton defence here – that booze caused him to lose control of his actions, so he wasn’t really responsible. But it’s a half-hearted effort, undone by the “few drinks” assertion earlier in his statement. Another poor effort all round.
Proctor: “I am devastated by the whole thing and can’t apologise enough to my Kiwi team mates, the NRL, the Titans, and all fans of the game.”
Deane: Ah, so there’s the apology. This should have been the first line of the statement. But the apology is both late and weak. Proctor mentions his own devastation before getting to those he has let down. It’s all about him, making it clear he is really only devastated by the consequences he now faces. He’s been let down badly here by the person who wrote this for him.
Proctor: “I’ve never been in this sort of trouble in my career, I have never failed a drug test, and I’m so sorry I’ve let everyone down by losing control of my personal decisions by drinking too much alcohol.”
Deane: More horse shit of the highest order. That Proctor has never been in this sort of trouble is self-evident. That he has never failed a drugs test is irrelevant. It’s precisely because cocaine is hard to detect that it is the go-to drug of footy players these days. You can read all about that in this awesome piece of journalism.
It’s what Proctor doesn’t say that is truly telling. He doesn’t say: “I’ve never done this before”. He says he’s never been caught and never been sanctioned. He wants people to think he’s never done this before, but he’s almost certainly worried that, if he says that, he will get caught out in a lie.
The final sentence about drinking too much alcohol is pure deflection. This isn’t about booze, it’s about cocaine.
Proctor: “I have a wife and young family, and taking drugs is not something I support or encourage because I am very aware of the damage it can do.”
Deane: This statement is intended to demonstrate that Proctor isn’t a habitual druggie, and is actually a great guy and family man. But the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Lots of married people with kids take drugs.They are also aware of the damage and the risks and, like Kevin, do it anyway. . Having kids and a missus doesn’t influence that that one way or the other.
Proctor: “Even though I have to appear before the Board later in the week, I’ve already decided to stand-down as club co-captain, and also stand-down from playing, until the Board makes a final decision.
“I accept that there will be further punishment from my club and the NRL, and I just want to put this all behind me as quickly as possible and prove I can make it up to everyone.”
Deane: Most of this is club box-ticking waffle. Boards don’t choose captains, coaches do. And Proctor’s fate will be determined by his level of importance to the Titans’ playoff aspirations. As he’s bloody important, he can expect a decent thrashing with a damp bus ticket. That he wants to put this behind him as quick as possible is one of the few moments of outright truth telling in the entire statement. But it’s also more evidence that Proctor is really only remorseful about the fact that he got caught – and the impact that has had on his personal circumstances.
Bonus round – Titans CEO Graham Annesley dodges all responsibility
Annesley: “One of the things about clubs* being on representative duty is that they are employees of NRL clubs and we loan them to representative teams and we expect them to be supervised while they’re away from the club environment.
“We spend a lot of time and effort when the players are under our control that they are supervised as much as possible.
“I know it’s not possible to do 24 hours a day, seven days a week but that’s one of the issues I’ll be raising with the NRL.”
Deane: Annesley is outright saying this is the NZRL’s fault because it happened on their watch. This blame deflection is beyond scandalous. Proctor has spent the sum total of five days in camp with the Kiwis this season. It’s preposterous to assert he developed his taste for cocaine over that week. Annesley is either an old fuddy duddy ex ref with no clue about drug culture, or he is a deeply cynical man hoping people will buy the line that Proctor got hopelessly drunk and decided on a whim to try a Class A narcotic for the first time in his life.
That’s highly unlikely. Recreational drug taking is a social affair. The clue is in the name. People take drugs with their mates. The fact that Proctor hooked up with former Storm team mate Bromwich for a spot of ill-advised snorting is almost certainly not an accident. Either the pair both decided, on a whim, to take cocaine for the first time in their lives (SNAP!) or …..
As Australia’s former anti-doping chief alleges, the NRL has its head in the sand over narcotics use by its players. Annesley is submerged in the Surfers sand well past his eyeballs. Rather than blaming an organisation that has no control over the day-to-day lives of the players its selects for very occasional representative duty for the actions of his employee, Annesley should be scouring his own back yard.
If he does that, he won’t like what he finds. Not at all.
* He almost certainly means players here, but even cocked that up.