Email Etiquette Lessons from the Cleveland Browns’ Phil Savage – Dropping the F-Bomb is So Not Cool


Phil Savage, Cleveland Browns GM, Responds too Quickly

While email etiquette in business has long been an important topic to the editors of, we’ve never pontificated on the importance of responding expeditiously. We’ve posted articles and opinions about email typos, email signatures, and we even ranked the worst email etiquette mistakes of all time in a two-part series. Had we weighed in on email response speed, we would have said speed is good.

That was until we read about Phil Savage. In Savage’s case, speed kills.

As first reported by the website, Cleveland Browns GM Phil Savage responded quickly Monday night to an idiot fan’s relentless and constant email criticism with the not-so-friendly reply “go root for Buffalo, f*ck you.” (Editor’s note: Phil used a vowel in place of the asterisk.)

You don’t have to be a seasoned leader to know that his response easily tops our list of the worst email etiquette mistakes ever. It’s hard to beat the F-bomb when it comes to what you shouldn’t say in a business email.

The Email Etiquette “24-Hour Rule”

Firing off an angry memo or cursing someone out over the phone ten or more years ago was not a big deal – in the Internet Age, angry responses will haunt you forever. Just as we learned from Alec Baldwin’s “thoughtless little pig” rant that you shouldn’t leave nasty voicemails, we now know from Phil Savage that you shouldn’t write “f*ck you” in an email.

(Seriously, didn’t we already know that?)

Before the onset of the World Wide Web, it was common practice for enlightened leaders to withhold a response when they were irritated. In a proper display of etiquette, they practiced the 24-Hour Rule – that is, they would wait twenty-four hours before sending a nasty note or letter. The prevailing wisdom assumed (correctly) that whatever made them angry today would seem less important in twenty-four hours.

It’s been almost 72 hours since Savage’s savage reply to the thoughtless-little-pig-of-a-fan, and we’re pretty sure it all seems less important now.