They are all over our internets and television. They travel the world, get paid more than you and me (well, definitely me, not sure about you), have a sense of entitlement, and tend to say petulant or irresponsible things at times – it’s bound to happen when you speak so often to the media. I’m speaking, of course, of the national celebrity sports writer/reporter. The story shouldn’t be about them, but sometimes it is.
This weekend, we had two different cases of the use of a powerful voice in an irresponsible fashion. On Saturday, Adam Schefter said via Twitter “Eagles already are referring to themselves as ‘The Dream Team.” Over 800,000 people follow Adam Schefter’s messages, and that particular one was passed on (re-tweeted for us cool kids) by well more than 100 to their followers.
Was it remotely accurate? No. At best it was irresponsible. Twitter can be a powerful tool, though, with short messages passed on quickly and viewed, often amongst many others in real time, that form a blurry and spontaneous reality. I had something saying, “yes, the Eagles did say this” in the back of my head, probably from glancing over this tweet that day.
“The Eagles” would imply an organization or even at best a large group of notable players saying this. From what I can find, the reference comes from a singular quote from now backup quarterback Vince Young, about joining the organization and all the other moves they were making at the time. While taken out of context, it makes it seem that Young is declaring the Eagles to be on the level with, say, the USA Olympic Basketball team, or a historically great football team, that’s probably not what he meant. He was specifically asked about what he thought of the Eagles in free agency so far:
"“Dream Team. From [CB] Nnamdi [Asomugha] to [CB Dominique Rodgers-] Cromartie, and from [DE] Jason [Babin] to myself, I know they’re going to do some more things. It’s beautiful to see where we’re trying to go. I’m all for it. Whatever they ask me to do, to be scout team quarterback or quarterback learning, do whatever it is. I just want to be here to help and be a part of a team. I’m just happy to be a part of the Philadelphia Eagles.” "
Maybe he was being conceited and declaring the team the Super Bowl favorites. The Dream Team line certainly spawned lots of commentary. I read it more in the context of a dream organization for him that is willing to go out and make these moves to win. Nothing wrong with saying that.
But Schefter’s tweet is like the whisper game, about 10 people down the line. It is presented as fact, and portrays an image. It furthers a narrative. But it is irresponsible because it is not true in any way.
Then there is Peter King. He apparently was taking in practice at Panthers’ camp Sunday. Afterward, he sent this message out:
"Interesting but not too surprising: Just got stiffed at Panther camp by Cam Newton. Chose not to talk to me post-evening practice."
Peter King is followed by almost 600,000 people, and much like with with Schefter’s tweet, it was re-sent by well over 100 people to everyone else that follows them, and spread like wildfire. (For comparison, just so you don’t get the impression everything King says is passed along so vigorously, his later tweet about coffee at a McDonalds was for some reason sent along by six desperate souls.)
As Toby Maguire once told us, with great power comes great responsibility. King acts like a toddler who didn’t get his toy at the sandbox. Did everyone who read that or passed that along understand the nuances there, and what King really might have meant by “not too surprising?” Probably not. Did he explain that several months earlier, leading into the combine, he casually tweeted out after he did get a private interview with Newton:
"Newton: “I see myself not only as a football player, but an entertainer and icon.” Ron Rivera, Chan Gailey, John Harbaugh blanch."
This launched quite a storm about Cam Newton and his attitude. It caused Cam Newton to have to explain the comments, and he didn’t really throw Peter King under the bus publicly (unlike King’s behavior last night), even though I think it’s quite possible Newton felt at best taken out of context. King’s “not too surprising” then may be referring to Newton not wanting to be “misunderstood” by King in a private conversation again. I wasn’t there and Cam Newton didn’t talk to me either, so I don’t know the full details–maybe he had other commitments, maybe he just didn’t want to talk to King specifically but did talk to others. King, though, conveys a certain feeling with words like “not too surprising” and “stiffed”.
But King knows how people will take those comments. They further a storyline. They insert King into the story. It’s almost like, in addition to being a writer, he thinks he’s an icon and an entertainer who is bigger than the stories he reports.
[photo via Getty]