Professional athletes have been getting press lately for doing inspiring things.

Kevin Love role modeled speaking out about mental healthJoe Hawley quit pro football to tour in a van and spread a message of "living with less to experience more." Basketball coach Dwane Casey got in on the act with a brilliant letter in response to his firing.

Football player Damarious Randall just put one on the other side of the ledger.

Randall, who recently joined the Cleveland Browns, is a big Golden State Warriors fan. When the Warriors made the NBA finals, setting up a matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Randall had no problem letting his new hometown know about his allegiances:

As of this writing, it has been retweeted over 900,000 times. Randall didn't think it would get 100 retweets.

Whoops.

I checked out the Cleveland Browns page on the NFL Shop--a jersey's average price is $100. Randall could owe over $90 million large. He might need to run a football skills camp this summer for Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates to pay down his debt.

It's not a simple case of Randall showing enthusiasm for a non-hometown team. Just one day earlier, Randall tweeted:

That's full-on agitation, and Cleveland fans aren't happy. So what can we learn from Randall's situation?

The Good Part of Randall's Approach

If you just joined a new team, would you check all your passions at the door and completely morph just to fit in? As a leader, would you expect new employees to do so? 

Of course not.

So, kudos to Randall for not feeling compelled to blend in at all costs and for maintaining his individuality.

The Bad Part of Randall's Approach

You have to wield some emotional intelligence from day one. How will your words and actions be perceived?

Start reading the room the moment you enter. See things from other people's points of view. Randall could easily have shown his support for the Warriors in less flashy, offensive ways.

Using foul language and saying you want to see your new hometown team lit up? Bad. 

Flaunting your wealth by offering to buy jerseys on the off-chance you're wrong? Bad. 

Missing the importance of how much pride a city takes in their team and how badly they want more winning after suffering through so many horrible seasons? Bad.

Missing the point that you now represent that city? Bad(der).

The Ugly Part of Randall's Approach

Randall potentially has a $90 million dollar tab to pay. He could be handing out a new jersey in New Jersey (and elsewhere) every five seconds.

Now, clearly, it isn't going to come to this--and no, I don't mean that the Warriors are going to defeat the Cavaliers. It's just hard to see a way Randall comes out a winner in this scenario.

Should the Cavaliers win, he won't be able to keep his word. At best, he'll only be able to craft a clever--but probably lame--way out by buying so many jerseys for fans. He'll donate some money and make some apology.

He's already become an unnecessary side story during the NBA finals. I guarantee announcers will build this story into the drama, and that's probably not the kind of attention Randall wants.

So, let this predicament be a reminder. When you enter a new team, bring your unique skills, passions, energy, and insight to the table. At the same time, show some emotional intelligence and think through how you can stay authentic while using an approach that will endear rather enrage new team/community members.

What do you think? Should Randall have handled this differently or is he well within reasonableness?

Published on: May 31, 2018
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.