Seattle Seahawks’ Bruce Irvin, NFL Suspensions, and Integrity

The last time a member of the current roster of Seattle Seahawks was suspended by the NFL was May 17, 2013. Bruce Irvin was found to be in violation of the rule against use of performance enhancing drugs, and was suspended without pay for four games to start the 2013 season. Irvin immediately posted an official apology:

I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and Seahawks fans for making a mistake when I took a substance that is prohibited in the NFL without a medical exemption. I am extremely disappointed in the poor judgment I showed and take full responsibility for my actions. I will not appeal the discipline and instead will focus my energy on preparing for the season so I can begin earning your trust and respect again. I look forward to contributing to the team the moment I return.

In addition to the official apology, he posted a personal apology via twitter, reiterating that he was sorry for letting the team and fans down, that he took responsibility for his choices, and that he was committed to learn from his mistakes and become a better person.

Irvin’s apology is a text book example of how we should apologize when we screw up. In his apology, Irvin:

  • Owns the behavior;
  • Acknowledges responsibility for the behavior;
  • Acknowledges the injury caused to others by the behavior;
  • Expresses regret; and
  • Commits to doing better in the future.

Everybody screws up. Everyone makes mistakes. The real measure of our mettle is what we do once we’ve screwed up to make it right. Making it right can be blisteringly painful. It can be tempting to deny our actions altogether, or our knowledge that what we did was wrong, or that our actions affect those around us. It may be tempting to think we can skate by, without taking responsibility for our words and choices. For those in the public eye, acknowledging mistakes and making them right is as difficult as it is important.

Bruce Irvin has overcome a lot to get to the NFL and become a Super Bowl champion. He hasn’t always had people around to guide him and provide strong moral direction. As we all have, Bruce has made some poor choices, but he understands that it’s important to set things right. Bruce understands that sometimes having integrity is hard work, painful and uncomfortable. His apology – and more importantly, his behavior on and off the field since he was caught using PEDs – is a clear demonstration that Irvin is a man of integrity.

Others could learn from him.

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