Donovan McNabb, quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, had one more word to say as he left his first pre-season press conference yesterday, that word was "Yardbarker". It may sound a little odd, but it was Donovan's way of sending a message to the press that, if they want to find out what's going on with him on a more regular basis, they need to visit his official blog on Yardbarker.
What I found interesting about this, wasn't the fact that Donovan's got a blog, more to the point, it's where he chose to launch his official blog. His blog is now hosted within a niche social community for rabid sports fans of all types. Believe it or not, McNabb is a savvy guy when it comes to his image, he's got his own website with his name and more recently he's really step out from under the Eagles' PR Thumb to handle a lot of his own Public Relations with the help of a PR Specialist he hired.
Unless you're an Eagles fan, you wouldn't know the story about the blog on his site, so I'll fill you in (since I am after all an EaglesChick to) - it's run by "Mama McNabb". During last season when McNabb's season abruptly ended with a torn ACL and Jeff Garcia stepped in and led the Eagles to the NFC East championship, a lot of controversy swirled around some of the things Mama McNabb was posting on that blog.
So from reputation management I can see why Donovan McNabb took this step. He's gone to a place where he can reach a highly targeted audience, but can speak his mind without being filtered by the Eagles' PR machine and probably little issues with Yardbarker's editorial staff. It also doesn't have the stigma of what his "mama" wrote all last season.
McNabb isn't the only athlete that Yardbarker has, they have Greg Oden, the NBA rookie from the Blazers and a few other athletes - boxers, football & basketball players alike. I can only see this as a great relationship for both parties. Yardbarker is an up and coming sports community and people love to hear straight from their favorite athletes, personally I can only see this list of athletes as growing for Yardbarker.
What's a little disturbing is how little most athletes monitor their reputation on the web. In just doing a casual search for different players' websites and blogs more often than not I found a lot of sites that were "garbagetrage" and obviously not owned by the athlete. Whoever is handling them, should contact a good Search Marketer (hey I'll even toss my hat in that ring) and get their clients on the right track.
I'm sure there's a few athletes who take their "Reputation Management" seriously, for example, take a look at Matt Leinart's site/blog - he's the Arizona Cardinal's QB. Here's a guy who's figured it out. Now if only Michael Vick would have taken these steps, who knows, maybe the mess he's in could have turned out a little more differently.