I know. The lockout’s over, the NFL is back, and everyone is already buying their draft kits and talking about free agency. Why even bother talking about it anymore?
Well, aside from the fact that my bosses at Fansided are forcing me to, I think it’s important to take a second here and process everything we’ve seen, heard, and experienced throughout the last four months. The game is going to change a bit, the fans’ appreciation for the game might be a little more pronounced this year, and I think we all can agree this better be the last time we have to deal with anything like this for a long, long time. God bless the “no opt-out” clause.
But for me, I think the biggest ramification of this lockout has nothing to do with the game itself. It has to do with the reporters, analysts, bloggers and broadcasters responsible for bringing us our “inside access” and team reports every day. These last four months of lockout and labor coverage have, more than anything else, made me distrust practically everyone.
Let’s take a look back for a second.
– Sunday, July 10th. John Clayton tells ESPN Radio he is 98 or 99% sure the lockout will be over by the end of the week. He would go on to say pretty much the same thing each and every week afterward, and was one of the biggest advocates of the July 21st deadline last Thursday.
-Thursday, July 14th. Bleacher Report and dozens of other blogs and mainstream media companies including the NFL Network cited “anonymous sources” who said the lockout would be over by the end of the week. Blogs like BR and SB Nation were routinely some of the most incorrect and blatantly false “sources” throughout the entire lockout process.
-Tuesday, June 7th. Chris Mortensen predicts via Twitter that the lockout will be over between June 30th and July 4th. When that didn’t happen, he co-authored the July 21st deadline with Adam Schefter. When that didn’t happen, he spent all of last Thursday night grasping at straws, tweeting things like: “Players will debate and discuss but certainly will recertify as a union, but want lockout lifted asap once they approve settlement tonight.” He did much of the same Friday and most of the weekend, continually moving his “deadline” until finally, today, the deal got done. Then he took to Twitter and TV to tell everyone he was right, this morning, when he “predicted” the end-date of the lockout.
And on and on and on. There are hundreds of “reports” like these, all of them citing “anonymous sources” and saying the lockout was either almost over or going to last forever. Feel free to look some up the next time you need a laugh. And these are just the print reports. I’m not even mentioning the countess hours of TV time wasted on bogus reports and “live coverage” of hotel lobbies where nothing happened and nothing was ever going to happen. These people made up deadlines and propagated rumors and the second they were proven wrong they moved right on to the next deadline, the next rumor, and never once did any one of them stand up and admit they were wrong.
So why? Why would they do all this intentionally? Weren’t they just doing their best with limited information and trying to keep fans informed? Right.
They had an offseason of dead air. ESPN and especially the NFL Network along with the hundreds of sports sites and NFL blogs in this country had nothing to talk about for months. It was so dead the Top 100 was treated like the Superbowl in some circles.
The artificial deadlines and “insider reports” were all calculated efforts to get viewers and readers to tune in, not just during the report but the next day, the day after that, the day after that, all culminating in that vast media circus in Atlanta on Thursday which, in my opinion, just might be the biggest embarrassment in American sports journalism history. And now that these people have football back, they’re right back to work at the rumor mill. Last I heard Brett Favre is going to be the Eagles starting quarterback and Plaxico is going to be our new kicker. They know this because they saw Burress watching a soccer game at a bar and he was reading Inside the Iggles on his cell phone. Woo hoo.
If the lockout taught me anything, it’s that all of these “journalists” I used to trust for my rumors and news are no more knowledgeable or trustworthy than Dr. Phil or Oprah. They care about ratings, and ratings only, and there will never be a system of accountability for these buttholes because most working sports writers are either too scared or sycophantic to call them out. Luckily for all you loyal ITI readers, I don’t care about anything.
Lesson learned, folks. Take all of these “reporters” with a grain of salt from now on. If there were ever a time in sports history where we really needed a group of journalists to get “inside access” for us, to give us even a little verifiable information and let us know, one way or another, how things were going to work out, this was it. And they failed miserably. With their back and forth reports, their bickering and deadline changes, they caused more anger, confusion and frustration than the lockout itself. From now on, just trust me. I will at least admit when I’m not sure about something, and I have the balls to admit when I’m wrong. Though that will probably never happen.