Where The Media Blows Yet Another Patriots Story Out Of Proportion

Greg Bedard didn’t expect this, even if he probably should’ve known what parts of his story some of his belly-crawling colleagues in the sports media would pick up and sensationalize.

In an profile of new Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine, the Boston-based Bedard painted a picture of Pettine as a hard-working, intelligent coach with a chip on his shoulder due to the fact that just 13 years ago he was coaching high school football.

About two-thirds of the way into the column, Pettine started to explain why he prefers to keep his initial playbook relatively thin and simple.

pettine-quote

He then told a story about Tom Brady teasing one of the Jets coaches about having their playbook, and Pettine saying he wasn’t surprised because Rex Ryan gave out playbooks all the time, including to Nick Saban, who is a Belichick friend.

While Bedard thought the anecdote was innocuous, whoever laid out the page at MMQB saw the sensationalistic aspect to the statement, and thus created the pull-quote above.

Immediately Twitter and web headlines everywhere proclaimed the Patriots guilty of stealing playbooks and by extension – cheating.

Bill Belichick was asked about it at minicamp yesterday.

Rex Ryan was asked about it.

Nick Saban’s office was asked about it.

This didn’t stop the freight train. Bedard went onto CSNNE last night to try and set the matter straight, and said if he knew the extent to which the anecdote would be blown out of proportion, he’d have left it out, because it wasn’t important.

Bedard: Media misconstrued Pettine anecdote

Most people who know the NFL know that playbooks get passed around all over the league. Rex’s brother Rob worked for the Patriots – you don’t think he gave his brother one? You can download portions of the Patriots (and other teams) playbook on the internet.

Bedard is pissed that this has become the focus of his story, and I don’t blame him.

Addendum:

This was posted last night:

So when the Patriots are mentioned with anything, it is a huge deal. Stuff like this comes out, and it is completely ignored.

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David Ortiz was wrong to have a tantrum over an official scorers decisions week. It’s not the first time he’s done, and it probably won’t be the last. He’s emotional – for better or worse – but that does not excuse his behavior.

That said, Boston sports radio needs to save their hand-wringing and outrage for other things. They love to tell us how Ortiz gets a free pass for everything in this town, and put on their whiny-baby voice while they say but he won us three World Series when mocking fans. We’ve heard it a million times already.

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It was bizarro Felger and Mazz this week, as I tune in one afternoon to hear Felger saying he made a bet that the Patriots would be a top-five defense this year, and that he feels that this team is championship-built.

Tony Massarotti then stated that the Red Sox aren’t out of it yet, and can still make a run to the postseason.

#mindblown

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Enormous changes coming to ESPN’s ‘SportsCenter’ – Chad Finn details the upcoming changes to the ESPN flagship show which has a new 194,000 square-foot studio. If you’re a fan of “show the highlights and get out of the way” the new SportsCenter may not be for you.

Bengtson has used the phrase “talent forward, content back” — one of those buzzy sayings that if you hear enough might leave you with a hangover the next day — to describe a more personality-driven approach to “SportsCenter.”

Great.

NESN’s Tom Caron brings out best in all analysts – Bill Doyle looks at the Red Sox host’s ability to work with varied personalities like Tim Wakefield, Steve “Psycho” Lyons, Jim Rice, and Dennis Eckersley

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Finally, a minor request to my friends on the Patriots beat. Can we dispense with the whole habit of including Matthew Slater in with the wide receivers on the roster? Every time a reporter lists out the wide receivers who will make the team, they usually list six, but with the caveat that one spot is reserved for Slater. Ben Volin does it today, most of the other reporters do it as well. It is tedious.

Matthew Slater is not a wide receiver. Does Danny Aiken get counted as a tight end or offensive lineman? No, he’s a specialist, as are the kicker and punter. Slater is as much a specialist as those guys. List him as one.

  • Andy Dursin

    Would be great if ESPN could-rethink their whole “bottom line” scoring scroll. With people having the ability now to watch/listen or just grab a score on their cell phone, it’s pointless to keep a whole section of the screen devoted to an endless loop of numbers. Plus, with big HDTVs, why devote the real estate to it? I dont expect them to…but it would be nice.

    Also heard John Ryder delivering a traffic report on WBZ at midnight yesterday using the name “Howard Knight.” Weird.

  • Jason Coyote

    Don’t mean to nitpick Bruce, but Slater has on some rare occasions lined up as a WR (I believe Brady might have even thrown a pass in his direction in the AFCCG), while to the best of my knowledge Aiken has never lined up once as a TE in any offensive formation.

    As for the Pettine story, let’s hope this only has enough legs to get through this weekend. I don’t want to be hearing about this all through training camp next month.

    Have to wonder if the new ESPN SC set is part of a response to Fox Sports 1 channel and their ‘big board’? I wonder if Chad or anyone else has a breakdown of ratings? Has the almost-one-year-old FS1 made any kind of a dent in ESPN’s audience share?

    And for Andy D–the weirdest part about Ryder using the ‘Howard Knight’ moniker is that he usually goes by ‘John Armstrong’.

    • http://bostonsportsmedia.com/ Bruce Allen

      Re: Slater

      He’s also played safety.(Probably more snaps there than WR, too) Why doesn’t he get listed there?

      The point is, he’s not a true positional player, and it’s annoying that everytime they list the WRs, he has to be on there as the reason they can only keep five receivers. Like Volin today suggesting that Thompkins or Boyce is going to get cut because Slater is the sixth WR. It’s dumb.

      • Homer Greenz

        Yes, this.

      • Fanny_Baker

        Yah dude. Get in line . If you dont know your WR depth chart , Bruce will banish your basement ass right back to your mothers… #geekfest

    • bsmfan

      Have to wonder if the new ESPN SC set is part of a response to Fox Sports 1 channel and their ‘big board’

      They were planning the new DC-2 for years, in part, thanks to some public $ via public money. Part of it, I think, is also as a “response” to the rising competition, not just from FoxSports.

      http://articles.courant.com/2014-05-19/business/hc-haar-espn-digital-center-2-20140516_1_hannah-storm-sports-tv-digital-center

      http://www.nhregister.com/sports/20140523/espn-unveils-178-million-digital-center-2

      http://sportsvideo.org/main/blog/2014/05/espns-digital-center-2-gives-sportscenter-the-high-tech-home-it-deserves/

      When they built their “DC-1″, it was state-of-the-art for 1999. Think of now where they do 18 hours of live programming a day. Back then, it was probably half of that. Now, with the demands, they need something much, much bigger. They also seem to be focusing on “personality” vs. “content” driven programming, including SportsCenter, which makes me think they want to go all-in on the stuff that drives most people who watch the media nuts. We’ll see what’s in-store for them.

      If you follow AwfulAnnouncing.com, they just hired a guy, @sonofthebronx, who posts a ton of ratings. Has FS1 made a “dent”? Hardly, but it’s starting to chip away at it. NBC seems content, thanks to Comcast, with just doing niche things (NASCAR, EPL, etc), while FS continues to hire away huge talent. They just nabbed Stewart Mandel from SI, one of the top5 CFB guys, along with Bruce Feldman. So, they’re clearly trying to chip away at the CFB dominance ESPN has. (Sidebar: SI is basically going to wind up being Peter King or bust–good luck there.) The “sports programming arms race” reminds me of what happened in the cable news industry around 1996, but we’re years away from seeing if they’ll succeed.

  • DryHeave

    at this point I’m so tired of the, “PATRIOTS CHEAT” crap that I’ve learned to embrace it…..as John Madden (coach of the RAIDERS at the time) once said, “everybody says the Raiders cheat…OK, we cheat. So, what are you going to do about it?”

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a “Raider Hater” from WAY back…but that’s about the way I feel about it……”yeah sure, Pats cheat,whatever”.. *yawn*

  • bsmfan

    Bruce,

    A few posts back, you wrote “the midday guys (G&Z) have nothing to worry about”. Finn’s chat today confirmed that one (scroll to 2:45):

    Chad Finn: Heard there’s been no uptick whatsoever in the early ratings.

  • smack_libs_around

    Hmmm…“talent forward, content back.” I saw an example of this today when clicking on an ESPN video link of Italy’s ‘soccer’ game today. Expecting to see highlights, the entire clip was hijacked by the fat-headed, no-necked Bob Ley DISCUSSING said match. Talent forward, content back (or, in this case, content was non-existent).

    Bob is insufferable, but his long tenure at ESPN grants him certain ‘perks’ like we see here. He knows as much about ‘soccer’ as I do (which isn’t much), but he’s sent on this lavish, never-ending Brazilian ‘junket’ anyway (what else could you call it?). Clearly he’s not there for his talent; he’s there because he must think he’s ‘owed’ this somehow.

  • Homer Greenz

    The video of Bedard on CSNE is great for a couple of reasons.

    #1 Well thought out rant against idiots in his industry.
    #2 Juxtaposition Bedard’s comments with CSNE bottom line graphics doing the very thing that he’s ranting against.

  • DryHeave

    never say never… a column from Shank I actually agree with… of course being cynical, can’t help but think Ryan’s tweet and this column was a set up. (you take this position, I’ll take that position)

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2014/06/21/soccer-doesn-get-kick-out/uTIF1VQ8QHOpfDyWI0W4KK/story.html

  • bsmfan

    viewers are still not given the option to turn on/off/personalize the “bottom line” on TV programs

    As SmartTVs came out and HTPCs really took off. At this time, is it possible? Absolutely. It’s called the “ticker” or “Chyron”. Could you mux the video yourself and personalize it, if savvy enough? It’s a small part but big. Your biggest barrier is also HDCP that’s present on any modern TV. I’ve seen working prototypes on very fast machines to decrypt this but have fun commercializing this. Any “grassroots” to circumvent this (possible) would also be met with massive lawsuits (see Aereo). Maybe in the future but I don’t see this soon.

    As “TV viewing” does get more personal, which is definitely the future, could something be done where you literally set preferences via Comcast (or your provider’s), and they setup something for you? Yeah, but I think this is years down the road.

    TV to avoid seeing the final score before I get a chance to watch the game.

    This was a big issue years ago, I think from ESPN. After someone made some noise about this, they said that, in the future, they’ll make sure to NOT publish the score. I haven’t seen anything on this in a bit, so I have to assume they’ve been true to their word (any sport they do).

  • bsmfan

    From yesterday:

    @ourand_sbj ESPN: USA-Portugal overnight TV rating was a 9.1, “the highest overnight rating for a World Cup match on ESPN or ESPN2.”