Week Wrap – Fat Cat Media Feels A Little Heat

In the wake of the NFL scandals of the last couple weeks, some of the long time and prominent media covering the league have been made slightly uncomfortable by having the light shined on their “coverage” of the league, which in many cases seems to consist of writing what Roger Goodell tells them to write.

Is there now a trust gap with Peter King? – Matt Yoder of Awful Announcing looks at the suspicions people are having of King, especially after his column this week which had a tough headline – It’s Past Time, Commissioner – but then leads off with the following paragraph:

A source with knowledge of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s mindset this week said something Wednesday that is very bad news for the 2014 playing status of Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy: “Roger has determined that he will be a leader in the domestic-violence space.”

So many questions. What exactly is  the domestic-violence space and how does one become a leader in it? A source with knowledge of the mindset? Was it Goodell himself, whispering in Peter’s ear? How can someone have a knowledge of someone else’s mindset?

Dave McKenna of Deadspin also wrote on this – Will The Elite NFL Media Still Be Stooges After The Ray Rice Scandal?

He targets not only King, but Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter as well. These types are not used to being criticized, especially King, who acts ridiculously out of touch and childish when challenged in the least bit.

If he’s feeling the heat, that’s a good thing.

When is Dan Shaughnessy going to feel some heat? Self-plagiarism gets old after a while. When was the last time the man had an original thought?

WEEI beat WBZ-FM in the summer book:

Some might say winning the summer ratings book is like going 4-0 in the NFL preseason, but it’s a start.

The media columns today:

Play-by-play man Allen Bestwick will miss NASCAR duties – Chad Finn has the Rhode Island native getting a bit wistful as ESPN’s run broadcasting NASCAR winds down.

Holy Cross radio voice Bob Fouracre recovered, ready to go – Bill Doyle has the football announcer coming back from colon cancer surgery.

In the actual sports area, we’ve got the Raiders coming to town for the Patriots home opener on Sunday. CBS has the 1:00pm game with Greg Gumbel and Trent Green getting the call. Evan Washburn will be the sideline reporter.

Catch all the coverage at Patriotslinks.com.

The Red Sox season is winding down, but the last week is actually pretty entertaining to watch with the lineup almost exclusively made up of young  and new players like Betts, Bogaerts, Cespedes, Castillo, Middlebrooks, Bradley Jr and Vasquez, as well as the young pitchers. Good experience for them. RedSoxLinks.com

The Bruins have started training camp, and have the first holdouts of the Peter Chiarelli era in Torey Krug and Reilly Smith. Get the latest a BruinsLinks.com.

Shame On You For Not Having an Opinion!

I don’t know about you, but I’m a little sick of opinions. They may be repackaged these days as #HOTSPORTZTAKES but really in many instances, they’re just a way to justify saying something stupid.

Wait, did I just give my opinion?

Oh well.

The NFL is a mess. That much is obvious. What is also obvious is that the media will insert themselves into the narrative for their own gain. This is not breaking news. We’ll get pieces threatening to stop watching the NFL. (Hi Adam Kaufman!) which, when I see, only makes me hope this means they’ll actually stop writing and talking about the NFL too.

We get Kirk Minihane going on a week-long binge of attacking those who don’t express their opinion. All of a sudden Minihane is Senator Joseph McCarthy seeking out members of the communist party. Tom Brady hasn’t said he’s against child abuse. So that must mean he is for it….How long have you supported wife beating, Rodney Harrison?

Oh wait, my bad. Kirk says his issue is not that Brady isn’t willing to give an opinion (but really, that IS what Kirk’s problem is) but that he thinks Brady is wrong to say that his opinion isn’t going to make a difference.

That’s a matter of opinion. A really, really dumb opinion.

Will the NFL and the Vikings change their stance based on what Tom Brady says? No. Of course not. The only reason any changes are happening right now is because sponsors and advertisers are either pulling out their money and support of the league or are threatening to do so. Does Brady speaking out influence that? No. Is it an impossible scenario? I guess not, but likely? No. What influences those entities is cries from the consumer and threats that they will stop purchasing the product.

Minihane and ProJo Red Sox writer Brian MacPherson went on a Twitter string together about how Brady’s comments were “Pretty weak” a “total whiff” and “shockingly out of touch.

What they don’t get though, is that had Brady made a comment about it, even a simple condemnation of the act, it becomes HUGE. Not a little 10-second thing to deal with as Kirk would have you believe.

Rich Levine outlines this scenario better than I ever possibly could. Which is why he’s making the big bucks and I’m a lowly part-time media blogger.

Why Tom Brady doesn’t speak out

Read it.

Also on CSNNE, a cerebral piece by Tom E Curran.

Free speech is also about right to stay silent

As Curran says:

Brady offering anything wouldn’t cause an epiphany for Adrian Peterson. It would, however, cause moans of pleasure in our business because it would add content and a new angle. Of course, Brady – and any other marquee player – taking a pass provides us this content anyway. (Which is what this column is…)

Which is all most in the media really want.

Even nationally, Brady is taking heat. Witness these two blog posts:

Tom Brady deliberately remaining quiet on NFL’s many current crises

The Patriot Way: Tom Brady Declines to Take a Stand On Ray Rice, Other NFL Scandals

The second article suggests that Brady doesn’t want to speak because he doesn’t want to offend Peterson because the Patriots plan to sign him once he’s released by the Vikings, because the Patriots have a history of bringing in troubled players.

The writer isn’t wearing a tinfoil hat in his photo, but I think he was while writing that post.

What I don’t get is the target Brady has on him for this. Where are these articles about Peyton Manning? Aaron Rodgers? Has Calvin Johnson weighed in? (Er, check that.) How about the never reticent Richard Sherman, who has no problem talking about other people? Are there articles being written about them?  No? Why not?

NESN Hires Guerin Austin As Bruins Rink-Side Reporter

From NESN:

September 15, 2014 – NESN, New England’s most watched sports network, announced today that Guerin Austin (@GuerinAustin) will join the network as a reporter/anchor/host. She will begin her tenure at NESN serving as the network’s Bruins rink-side reporter and doing features on NESN Sports Today and NESN Live.

Austin’s portfolio of experience includes five years in Washington, D.C., where she served as host of Caps Red Line, a weekly behind-the-scenes look at the Capitals airing on the NHL Network, and as a morning host/reporter at the FOX affiliate in Richmond, VA. She also served as the in-arena host for Capitals home games at the Verizon Center.

The 2004 Miss Nebraska USA got her start in television as an on-air host and associate producer at the ABC affiliate in Denver, and at the CW station in Omaha, Nebraska. Originally from the Seattle area, Austin grew up in skating rinks, from competing as a figure skater to watching her dad and brother play hockey. She lived in Connecticut for two years training at the International Skating Center in Simsbury.

“Guerin has a wide-range of experience as a television reporter/host, including several years working with an NHL team,” said Joseph Maar, NESN’s Vice President of Programming and Production/Executive Producer. “She is a versatile on-air personality with a range of skills from speaking French to producing features. We are very excited to welcome a reporter/anchor of Guerin’s caliber to NESN and our Bruins broadcast team.”

 

NESN's Guerin Austin

Patriots Look To Avoid 0-2 Start

After last Sunday’s debacle in Miami, the Patriots will attempt to pick up their first win of the season, and avoid putting themselves into an early season 0-2 hole when they take on the Vikings in Minnesota. It won’t be easy, as the Vikings have some dynamic talent on both sides of the ball, and they are coming off a runaway win in St. Louis last week.

CBS has the game on Sunday at 1:00pm with Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts on the call, and former NESN Red Sox reporter Jenny Dell will handle the sideline duties. It will be our first chance to see her on a Patriots broadcast.

The game will be played outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium, the home of the University of Minnesota, where the Vikings are playing the next two seasons while their new stadium is built.

In the few scattered times that the Patriots have been discussed this week – there have been a few other NFL things going on if you hadn’t heard – I’ve seen confusion and discussions over the Patriots rotation on the offensive line in Miami. Many people, including beat reporters, seem confused about  reasoning behind the shuffling. A look through Mike Reiss’s blog archives and snap counts show that this was not that unusual for the opening game. Rosevelt Colvin was on 98.5 this morning and also said that in the first game of the season, the team would rotate players on the offensive line to break them and not put too much load on them to play a full game right off the bat.

Look for the offensive line to solidify over the coming weeks.

Check all the coverage leading into Sunday at PatriotsLinks.com.

One quick Red Sox note – It might be blasphemy here, but I’m looking forward to seeing Mookie Betts play second base - hopefully for the rest of the season.

OK, two. Does Giancarlo Stanton already play for the Red Sox? I know him getting drilled in the face last night was gruesome, and he is an MLB Star, but with all the rumors about the Red Sox interest in him, (feels a lot like all those Adrian Gonzalez rumors we heard before the team actually acquired him.) you’d think he already played here. Both radio stations are talking about it, the Globe runs its “On Baseball” column about him, it’s a little unusual for an out-of-town player.

Media

CBS’s James Brown on the mark regarding Ray Rice – Chad Finn applauds the network host’s comments on the NFL and domestic violence last night.

He also notes the return of Curt Schilling to ESPN, Dan Koppen’s work on CSNNE, and Glenn Ordway’s Big Show Unfiltered finding its first terrestrial home at ESPN New Hampshire (900 AM and 1250 AM) starting next week.

From hardcore to hard knocks: Alum lands at NESN – The Emerson College Newspaper The Berkeley Beacon profiles alum Doug Kyed who the Patriots beat reporter for NESN. Kyed faced a tough choice – hard rock stardom, or attending Bill Belichick press conferences.

Opinion: Time For NFL Owners To Step Up

We welcome this guest editorial from Michael Walsh.

It is easy to forget that Roger Goodell is only the most powerful man in sports because the true oligarchy of power needs a public face. The inept, incompetent, and possibly unscrupulous Goodell only holds power because 32 of the richest men in America give it to him.

And now, as the disgrace of the league’s handling of Ray Rice knocking his fiancée out cold grows larger and larger with each breaking news story and subsequent denial or “admission” of failure, calls for Goodell’s resignation are growing louder and louder, and not just from fans on Twitter, but from the league’s partner, and often times enabler, ESPN, as well as the National Organization of Women.

Unfortunately, everyone has it wrong. Stop calling on Goodell to go.

Start calling on his bosses to do the right thing and make him go.

Make no mistake: Roger Goodell works for them. Those 32 insanely rich men. They have hired him to do their dirty work, protect “The Shield”, and most importantly, increase their bottom dollar.

And boy has he. Just a few of those accomplishments include a CBA that grossly favors the owners, a new Thursday night game revenue stream, and local cities falling over themselves to let the taxpayers fund their stadiums. The NFL isn’t an ATM, it is a mint. They are printing money, and their stated goal is to grow and grow the game, and by that they simply mean to increase their profits to even more obscene levels.

Goodell has been such an able employee, and just as importantly, been the face to take all the cries of hypocrisy and greed sent the NFL’s way, that they rewarded him with $44 million in salary last year. All of this to a commissioner whose gaffes and missteps are well-documented. High profile columnists, players both former and active, and fans on social media are happy to point them out.

Ho hum. Print that money. Thank you Roger. You’re doing a great job.

That is the message 32 of the richest men in America keep giving Roger Goodell.

Well no more. That can no longer be the case. Not when the leader of the most powerful, richest sports league in America has so monumentally screwed up something so important.

Ray Rice spit on his fiancée, twice, then hit her in the face with violent, malicious punches, twice, before dragging her like a sack of potatoes out of the elevator. And it is all on video.

What Ray Rice did is despicable. How he has acted since then is despicable. Ray Rice may or may not be scum, but the evidence there is pretty overwhelming.

And the NFL and Roger Goodell have enabled him and every other piece of scum out there. Domestic violence cannot be trivialized, it cannot be brushed aside, it cannot be explained away. The NFL owed it to every women in this country to do right by them, and they didn’t. Whether out of unimaginable incompetence, or, more likely, willful malice in trying to protect “The Shield” (their pocketbook), the NFL took what happened to a battered woman and made it an assault on all women.

So it is time for one of the 32 richest men in America to stand up and be the first to say that the man they pay to do their bidding has to go. It is time for one of them to publicly, with his name attached and his face on camera, to say that Roger Goodell failed his biggest test, that he failed every fan of the league, every daughter, every mother, every sister, every wife and girlfriend, as well as every son, father, brother, husband and boyfriend that love and worry about those people being the next sack of potatoes on a videotape that people with power don’t care to watch.

One owner needs to take the first step that will do whatever needs to be done to salvage something good out of all of this horribleness, no matter how much money it might cost 32 of the richest men in America.

What is the price of right and wrong? Surely the job of one terrible commissioner isn’t enough, but it sure would help in making amends for the damage already done.

Step up. One of you. Step up on your own and say he needs to go. The rest will follow. Then the league will go on, and hopefully the message will be sent that not only the behavior, but the enabling and incompetence that followed is not acceptable to the National Football League, and that women are valued and the league will go to any lengths to defend them from violent animals without having to worry about what 32 of the richest men in America might do to undermine that.

Thoughts? You can email Michael Walsh at [email protected]

Peter King Needs To Turn The Finger-Wag On Himself For Once

The rise of Peter King in the sports media world is a curious one. The 57-year-old King really vaulted into prominence when he began writing the weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column back in the 1990’s. The Internet was still new, and getting this fast overview of the weekend’s football action was a popular idea that took off.

peterkingPrior to this, King had been a fairly ordinary sportswriter, with stints at The Cincinnati Enquirer and Newsday prior to joining Sports Illustrated in 1989, he wrote several books during the 1990’s, but it was Monday Morning Quarterback which really lifted him above his peers in terms of popularity and stature.

He had been a solid reporter, and in addition to the football reporting, people seemed to enjoy his “10 things I think I think” and non-football thoughts of the week, tales of travel woe, as well as updates on his favorite coffee stops, and later, his choice in (inevitably citrusy) beer. The MMQB success made him a sought-after guest on sports radio programs – here in Boston his guest spots on the midday show with Dale Arnold and whomever his current partner was at the time were very popular segments – and also TV shows, such as Inside The NFL, then still on HBO.  When the NFL came to NBC, he was a big part of that, providing in studio reports on Football Night in America.

Then, last year SI, following in the footsteps of Bill Simmons at ESPN, gave King his own website, and team of writers at themmqb.com. He was (and is) at the pinnacle of his career and power.

Yes, power. One of the more annoying things that King has developed over the years is his penchant for the finger-wag at those he feels are deserving of his scorn. He somehow has come to believe that he is a moral arbiter of society, taking people to task for failures in their own lives and professions. In addition to lecturing people inside the league, he’s weighed in on people’s lives outside of football, he’s scolded Red Sox players, and generally acted the part of the ugly American in dealings with any sort of service industry employee. He went to visit troops overseas and gave away details of the location of the camp. These things are all annoying, but mostly harmless.

He has also, like many in the media, gotten close to the subjects he covers and spends a lot of time pumping them up. He was a regular at Brett Favre’s house. Who can forget him eating popcorn in Jerry Jones’s office? Or spending  a week “embedded” with official Gene Steratore and his crew? Or the numerous exclusive sitdowns  (6000 words!) and gushing profiles of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

For some, those columns on Goodell serve to solidify the notion that King is nothing more than a publicity agent in service of the Commissioner. Events of this summer are further disturbing in exposing King’s reporting as being shoddy, incomplete and dishonest.

When the original two-game suspension was handed out, King wrote a column explaining what Goodell’s thinking was in suspending Rice for really only four days – the Ravens played Sunday and play again on Thursday night. The article, complete with bullet-points, was written at the time in which the public had only seen the tape of Rice pulling his fiance of the elevator, seems to be a direct missive from the Commissioner. In fact, King doesn’t say “I think this is what Goodell’s thinking was here.” he says This is why Goodell was softer on Rice than a four-game suspension.

The bullet points, which included he’s never done it before and he does a lot in the community rang hollow to many people who responded back to King in anger. He attempted to defend himself by citing “evidence” that he hadn’t mentioned in the first column.

Note the wording here.

There is one other thing I did not write or refer to, and that is the other videotape the NFL and some Ravens officials have seen, from the security camera inside the elevator at the time of the physical altercation between Rice and his fiancée. I have heard reports of what is on the video, but because I could not confirm them and because of the sensitivity of the case, I never speculated on the video in my writing, because I don’t think it is fair in an incendiary case like this one to use something I cannot confirm with more than one person. I cannot say any more, because I did not see the tape. I saw only the damning tape of Rice pulling his unconscious fiancée out of the elevator.

(Emphasis mine)

So much here. King never explains why he didn’t think it was “fair” to mention the tape on Thursday, but it was OK to mention it four days later. He also definitively states that the video had been viewed by both the NFL and the Ravens. (Later, we learn that he actually did not know this for sure.) He then goes back and forth with a bunch of contrasting phrases I have heard reports/I could not confirm and I never speculated/I cannot confirm.

I’m trying to make sense of this. He states the tape was viewed. He heard reports on its contents, could not confirm so he’s not going to speculate. It’s especially unfair to use information that can’t be confirmed with more than one person – essentially giving us unwashed masses a lesson in the ethic of journalism here.

EXCEPT – he lied. He uses the information in an effort to defend himself, but it was information that he in fact did NOT confirm with more than one person.

You may know this as the John Tomase rule.

King however, wasn’t that humbled by the blowback. He concluded that section by writing:

In retrospect, I would have added a paragraph or two to the story at the end about what I thought, because that is clearly what so many of you expect from me.

Two things – I look at that sentence as just dripping with condescension. Isn’t he admitting right here that the talking points in the original Goodell defense were not his own, but were actually Goodell’s? The original article was written in such as way as to make you think that King is merely observing the whole situation from on high, detached from the situation and saying “This is what Goodell is thinking.” In reality, they were Goodell’s thoughts. and now Peter is distancing himself from them and saying he should’ve offered HIS thoughts too, as they would be very different from Goodell’s. The impatient “clearly what so many of you expect me from me” bit makes me ill.

How do we know he lied? He copped to it yesterday in this curiously titled addendum to the Ray Rice coverage.

He writes:

Earlier this summer a source I trusted told me he assumed the NFL had seen the damaging video that was released by TMZ on Monday morning of Rice slugging his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, in an Atlantic City elevator. The source said league officials had to have seen it. This source has been impeccable, and I believed the information. So I wrote that the league had seen the tape. I should have called the NFL for a comment, a lapse in reporting on my part. The league says it has not seen the tape, and I cannot refute that with certainty. No one from the league has ever knocked down my report to me, and so I was surprised to see the claim today that league officials have not seen the tape.

I hope when this story is fully vetted, we all get the truth and nothing but the truth.

For King to write within the same paragraph that something had happened and then say “I don’t think it is fair in an incendiary case like this one to use something I cannot confirm with more than one person.” is completely mind-blowing.

His defense is “no one ever told me I was wrong“? (Aside: How tone-deaf does someone have to be to use the phrase “knocked down” in referencing to his own reporting on a case which involved a woman getting knocked unconscious and dragged across a lobby?) This is the guy lecturing on ethics and the importance of multiple sources?

Then the last sentence. Isn’t that YOUR job, Peter? To advance and vet the story?

He continued on the topic with his mailbag today. Many readers were still upset, and King attempted to placate them and apologize – but not really.

I’ve been a reporter for 34 years and I’ve made my share of mistakes. This certainly was one of them. And I realize that a lot of people will not trust what I say on this issue, but I can assure you that it was simply an honest mistake. As far as resigning, if my bosses inside Sports Illustrated and Time Inc. don’t want me to report anymore, they’ll tell me. But I won’t be voluntarily quitting. I’m not sure what good that would do, other than to satisfy some fairly shrill cries for my head.

After looking at the above, can we really call this “an honest mistake?” Not at all. It was deliberate. There was no “honest mistake” involved in the least.

How about that last line? Again, the tone-deafness of Peter King is just insane. Does the term “fairly shrill cries” fill you with warmth at the thought of a humbled man looking to make good on his errors? Or does it leave you with the picture of a testy, impatient man scolding “leave me alone you screeching vultures?”

Way to go, Pete. Get your house in order.

About That Miami Game…

Captured footage from my house around 4:15 yesterday.

giphy

After a fairly good first half in South Florida yesterday, the Patriots came out in the second half and did nothing. They didn’t score at all after putting up 20 points in the first half, and gave up 23 points to the Dolphins. Both lines were pretty dreadful and halftime adjustments seemed non-existent. Miami won going away, 33-20.

The result was the first opening day loss for the Patriots since the 31-0 debacle to open the 2003 season.

A performance like that draws the trolls, and they love nothing better than taking victory laps on afternoon’s like yesterday.

The Globe again has it’s day-after special football section for this season, which will this season include a Monday sports media column from Chad Finn. This week he looks at the game day offerings and ahead to the certain caterwauling of sports radio this week.

On the media front, you should also check out Finn’s Friday column on the history of the sideline reporter, check out last week’s edition of Patriots Football Weekly for my column on the various sideline reporting changes this offseason, and look at the New York Post’s article on Jenny Dell who is working as an NFL sideline reporter for CBS.

Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on Dennis and Callahan and Minihane this morning, and no one knows better than he that there is a lot of work to be done.

Get all the coverage from yesterday’s game at PatriotsLinks.com.

If you’re interested in deep, football-focused talk, check out Matt Chatham’s new site footballbyfootball.com, where he has NFL players weighing in and analyzing happenings around the league.

It will be a long week. No doubt about that. It’s already begun, and will not cease until the team wins a game convincingly.

This team will be fine.   There may be more rough patches ahead until roles and rotations are settled, but this is a good team. Despite what you’ll hear, see and read this week.

NFL Preview Day, Globe Goes MAD

The NFL season starts tonight, with the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks hosting the Green Bay Packers on NBC.

The Globe and the Herald have their NFL/Patriots season previews today so there is plenty of material to go through.

As a tribute to 93-year-old MAD Magazine cartoonist Al Jaffee, the Globe did a “fold-in” cover to its section. The image shows the Patriots losing to the Jets 17-3 at Gillette and walking off the field dejectedly while the Jets dance on the stadium turf. BUT fold in the image and you see the Lombardi Trophy.

There’s a whole lot I could say here about the image representing everything the Globe feels about the Patriots and their fans, but I’ll let you guys handle that. And yes, I know the old MAD fold-ins were made so you think it means one thing, and it shows something completely different, but still. Yeesh.

Some highlights from the sections:

Persistent Bill Belichick grows into champion – Jeff Howe has a feature on the coach’s rise from a $25 a week film assistant to a coaching legend. Not much new material in here, but it is always nice to look at the accomplishments rather than the failures.

Tom Brady fueled by doubts about his ability – Chris Gasper does a similar bit on the Patriots QB, and his continued drive to be at the top.

Revamping defense was a priority for Patriots – Shalise Manza Young has a look at the moves made to bulk up the D.

Tom Brady to have many options in score zone – Karen Guregian looks at the improved Red Zone options that Brady has this season. (Wait…I thought Brady didn’t have any WEAPONZ!!!)

Bill Belichick belongs among NFL’s coaching greats – Yes, this is Ron Borges writing this. But don’t be fooled. This is his cover piece, so when he rips him up the rest of the season he can say “Hey, what do you want? I said he was among the greatest of all time!”

To that end – Bill Belichick, Tom Brady on same page – Ron wants you to know that the two are NOT friends. They are just to professionals who happen to work well together. (No, it really isn’t that bad.)

Darrelle Revis brings Patriots back to title roots – Ben Volin looks at the Patriots best CB since the prime of Ty Law and what it means to the team’s hopes.

New England Patriots TE Tim Wright has been adapting on the fly since college – New Masslive.com Patriots writer Kevin Duffy has a piece on the new Patriots tight end.

Levine’s 2014 NFL season preview – Rich Levine looks at the entire league.

Patriots, Broncos are prime-time TV players – Chad Finn says that the national audience will be seeing plenty of these two teams this season.

Full Media Portion of Channel Media and Market Research Poll

Last week I mentioned the media portion of the Channel Media and Market Research poll. Thanks to two readers who each sent me a full copy of the poll, here is the complete media section of the survey.

Download the PDF file .

 

Meet The New New England Patriots

As we head into the week after Labor Day and hunker down for fall and football, why not pick up some chat fodder to avoid awkward water-cooler moments by learning about some of the newest Patriots?

Also on tap – after dozens and dozens of requests (read: none whatsoever), the return of high school fun facts!

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