If you have never watched the television show The Wire, I recommend it highly. In the fifth season, they focus on the degradation of the print news media by focusing on a journalist called Scott Templeton. In a bid to drive attention to his articles, Templeton exaggerates quotes and uses fake sourcing, while frequently hiding behind the guise of “anonymous” sources. The New York media has their very own Scott Templeton covering the Jets. His name is Manish Mehta and his employing paper is, The Daily News.
Today the football world is up in arms about the “cowardly” Jets for trashing backup quarterback Tim Tebow. How dare they not put a name on it? There is one quoted player in the article, guard Matt Slauson, who confirmed today the quotes were taken “so many months ago, he can’t even remember it”…something confirmed by Rex Ryan.
Now, let’s do a thought exercise…
You are a beat writer for the New York Jets for a print newspaper. You work in a dying medium and industry. A quarterback controversy sells newspapers. You are dying for a quarterback controversy…practically begging for it…even charting every single pass thrown by both quarterbacks in training camp. You do this despite it being abundantly clear that there is no quarterback controversy. There never has been. This reality is now setting in because despite Mark Sanchez being awful this year, he still hasn’t been pulled for Tim Tebow yet. What if it never happens? What if Tebow leaves New York before ever starting a single game? Now you are desperate, desperate enough to dust off some old quotes from your anonymous sources for a front page story. These quotes weren’t necessarily taken recently or taken in any context related to anything that is occurring right now, but what the hell right?
Look at the quotes in this article about “Tebow” and add some hypothetical context to them –
“He’s terrible” - Defensive Starter – This literally could have been said by any Jets starter since Tebow burst on to the scene in the NFL at any point, in any context. It could have been said before Jets/Broncos last year. It could have been said by Aaron Maybin after he was cut (he has been announced as a starter at Jets games before). It could have been said by anybody at anytime.
“Hell, no!” another starter said. “You got to keep defenses honest. You just can’t line up in the Wildcat all the time. That won’t work.” - This could very well be a quote taken from Calvin Pace talking about the Wildcat back in 2009. It could have been taken from any player over the summer when asked if they want to run a traditional offense or a Wildcat and then they responded with this answer. It could have been taken from Darrelle Revis last year before the Jets/Broncos game.
“We can’t win running that shit” – One player
“Nobody wants him to be the starter” – One member of the team
“We don’t look at him as a quarterback. He’s The Wildcat Guy” – Another starter
How many times after the Tebow trade and throughout the summer have we heard members of the New York Jets say something like this? Maybe one or two million times, I lost track. Like here. Or Here. Or Here. Think about how easy these quotes could flow from any Jets player asked in the past 6 months about Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, and then they could be construed into what is above -
“Yes, we support Mark, we all want him to be our starter” = “Nobody wants Tebow to be a starter”
“Tebow is an athlete, he is going to help us in The Wildcat. Mark is our quarterback” = “We don’t look at him as a quarterback. He’s The Wildcat Guy”
You can make these deductions when the quotes seem a little too perfect. It is easy to make them sound that way when you cherry pick from everything members of the team have said the past year or so.
If I was Rex Ryan? I’d deny The Daily News access to Florham Park. Lock them out. Let’s see if ESPN or the New York Post breaks any of these same stories. If they do, the Jets are the problem. If they don’t, you know who the problem really was.
Before you trash the entire Jets locker room and Rex Ryan. Re-read the article you are criticizing them over and think if it is really the most sound piece of sports journalism you have ever seen.