Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 6/8/12

Almost expectedly, Nick Fairley finally broke his silence Friday and apologized in the wake of two ugly offseason incidents, each of which involved drugs and the police. Fairley released the following statement on his Facebook account:

"After taking some much-needed time to reflect on recent incidents, and after conversations with my advisors, teammates, and members of the Lions organization, I would like to make the following statement:

"I want to personally apologize to my fans, teammates and the Detroit Lions organization for bringing this unwanted attention to our team. I recognize my actions were inexcusable and I personally need to uphold the expected standard of behavior of a professional athlete. I do not take for granted this opportunity and feel blessed everyday to play in the NFL.

"At this time, I am fully cooperating with the Mobile, Ala. Police Department. I am now focused on moving forward and committing my focus to football. I would like to thank everyone for your concern and understanding."

Oh really?

If you think that particular mea culpa sounds concocted and contrived, you're not alone. In a sports world where no good public relations deed can ever go undone, something exactly like that always has to be said, and had likely been ghostwritten for weeks. The only real shock here is that it wasn't released sooner. Apparently, Fairley had to publicly wear his dunce cap for an extended period of time while his advisors planned out the best sounding response to this fiasco. This is not to say Fairley is not genuinely remorseful for his stupid actions, but nowadays, every public apology always sounds watered down, especially when said negative actions are repeated over and over by the offenders. "I love you" may be the only phrase more misused than "I'm sorry" in today's strange world.

Now, only one thing can save Fairley for the rest of time, and it's his own actions. Not the actions publicists dream up either, like posing with children for pictures before games or showing up at youth clinics for a few hours. That's always nice, but Fairely must begin to live what he spoke about so eloquently in Friday's Facebook apology. He must realize his responsibility to his communities, not simply his fans, which involves being a good citizen. That means you don't smoke marijuana and joyride around, nor do you drink and drive, nor do you engage with law enforcement. That's more than upholding the expected standard of a professional athlete; that's called being a responsible human being. Playing in the NFL has absolutely nothing to do with that, or common courtesy to society.

Perhaps the best way Fairley should strive to move on from these incidents is to plunge himself into his craft. Show up early, lift weights, watch film, improve technique and work hard. From now on, he should be the first player in the building and the last one to leave. His play on the field should show just how sorry he is that he let fun get in the way of his calling. There's no sophomore slump excuse to fall back on, so 2012 must be a season where great strides are made. It's time to knock off the drugs and alcohol and get serious. Becoming a force on the defensive line? That's the only suitable way Fairley can "personally apologize" to his teammates and the Detroit Lions organization.

In life, everybody reaches their unique "fork in the road" moment at a different time. Fortunately, Fairley's crossroads happened early enough in life that he can change his ways without further damaging his reputation and his family's reputation while jeopardizing his career. At this point, though, that choice is Fairley's and Fairley's alone to make. He can either become Pacman Jones, king of the fake apology and premature NFL flame out, or turn things around and become somebody in the league. Doing that would represent the best of humanity, and show Fairley was serious about becoming a new man.

Showing actions like hard work, dedication, responsibility and self control while keeping quiet? That's the most appropriate kind of public relations work a person can do, and those are traits are already inherent in Fairley. He wouldn't have made it this far without some semblance of each.

Sometimes, though, everyone needs a refresher course in what is true PR 101. Now's the time Fairley's second education has to begin.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

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