Sometimes in life you can see trouble coming from a mile away. A player's reputation is often earned by their tendencies. That can be either a good thing or a bad thing.
For example, if a player makes a game changing play on multiple occasions at big moments in games, he might earn the reputation of being clutch. On the other hand, if he repeatedly finds himself partaking in online feuds with fans and local sports personalities, he might find himself labeled as a facilitator of unnecessary drama.
Not long after the Steelers signed Ebron to a two year contract in free agency earlier this offseason, Ebron found himself embattled in another unsavory feud with local media.
Seems that Eric Ebron took exception to a not-so-flattering evaluation of his abilities by an unnamed scout, reported by Pittsburgh sports radio personality Andrew Fillipponi.
Fillipponi quotes a “long time NFL scout” not so flattering evaluation of Ebron. The scout suggested that Ebron is basically the opposite of former Steelers tight end Heath Miller, a beloved fan favorite. He said Ebron doesn’t block, he refuses to stay quiet, and that we all should expect some fireworks as a result, warning everyone to prepare for more unnecessary drama.
I quickly came to Ebron's defense and wrote an article about his not-so-warm-welcome to Pittsburgh. I felt that Fillipponi's decision to share the negative evaluation of the newly acquired Ebron was ill timed and in poor taste. I surmised that you should at least let the guy sign his contract and tour the facilities before you take him to task over accused past transgressions. Judge him by what he does in a Steelers uniform, and in the Pittsburgh community.
I still stand by that ideal, but it's starting to become evident why Ebron has earned a reputation for being a magnet for drama. Not only doesn't he shy away from confrontation, at times he appears to seek it out. The unnamed scout's evaluation and prediction are starting to appear prophetic.
I read a report online recently about a Twitter battle between Ebron and local radio producer Mike Sullivan. What makes the story particularly concerning and interesting is the fact Sullivan is located in Detroit, and only engaged with Ebron after Ebron had already started feuding with some Lion's fans via social media over longtime Lion's quarterback Matt Stafford. One thing is for sure, there is no love loss between Ebron and the Detroit Lions franchise or fanbase.
This latest social media dust up involving Ebron has nothing to do with the Steelers, but it has to give them pause. Anytime a player reads his own press clippings so to speak, he is bound to be disturbed from time to time by some negative commentary if he takes it personally. All players pay attention to what is being said and written about them, whether they admit it or not. Some just handle what they find better than others.
The most successful players rarely respond to the negative criticism, instead they recognize the source and categorize accordingly. They are uplifted by the positivity and driven by the negativity as fuel for success. They focus on the task at hand, on being the best player and teammate they can be.
Regrettably, up to this point of his career, Ebron's reputation accurately precedes him. But that doesn't mean he can't turn the whole situation around. All he needs to do is challenge himself to focus all his attention on his current employer, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and on being the best employee and teammate he can be.
Ebron has the talent to be a Pro Bowl player once again, to be a integral part of an explosive offense lead by a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback for a franchise with championship aspirations. A great way to silence your critics would be to become a valuable weapon for a Super Bowl winning team.
Another way to avoid all the drama would be to behave in a manner befitting a mature professional, like I mentioned earlier in this article. This would require Ebron to leave his past in the past and focus instead on his potentially bright future with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Here's an idea: Have Ebron take a few lessons from teammate Zach Banner on how to make a positive impact with his social media platform. Banner utilizes his to raise social awareness and to entertain the masses.
Ebron could even do his own rendition of the theme song from Disney's epic movie Frozen, "Let It Go." All the proceeds could good to charity.
That could go a long way toward silencing the critics and changing his reputation for the better.