I woke up to a flat tire this morning, which was just great! So, I walked over to the local Dunkin’ Donuts (because I can’t afford to drop four dollars on Starbucks), and thought about a few things as I combed through my daily reads on my phone. Chief among these thoughts was whether or not Roger Goodell enacted the some form of the Patriot Act without anyone noticing? Was there a press release? Or, in reality, is the inconsistent way in which he operates just omnipotence masked by hilarious levels of incompetence?

If you’re on the fence about the idea, just see below:

The league was monitoring Marshawn Lynch’s responsibility to play nice with the media, I guess, because #MediaDay is an important event for the NFL (and its integrity, of course, because integrity is like the bloodline of professional American sports and stuff!). And Marshawn Lynch is not bigger than #MediaDay; despite the fact that, in actuality, he kind of is, because #MediaDay is horrible and mostly stupid.

I mean, the whole point of #MediaDay is so the wacky, fish-out-of-the-water media can interact with players. These idiots serve as tiny vessels that, through slap-stick comedy akin to “Dumb and Dumber To” (not a compliment), display the human side of robots like Kam Chancelor and Bill Belichick.

The end game works out well for nearly every party involved. The league gets stupid Buzzfeed articles (THE 27 CRAZIEST QUESTIONS ASKED AT #MEDIADAY!!!) that purportedly help build up excitement for the average non-football fan who watches the Super Bowl; the players get to field questions that don’t start with “Talk about” (e.g. instead of “Talk about that play where” … the wonky media outlets ask Jonas Gray about his favorite Power Ranger growing up or something); and the media gets what it covets most – content!! – all while the Jimmy Olsens out there still maintain their PROFESSIONALISM while cackling at the idea of Rob Gronkowski singing Katy Perry songs, like the rest of us.

All very serious stuff.

So, yeah, MONITORING. Totally necessary here. Fucking insane.

***

In other (non) news, Deflategate – finally, almost mercifully — took a day off yesterday. Like most, I’ve consumed way too much coverage of this ongoing topic. And despite the overblown hysteria that has surrounded each and every development, without question, it has been an interesting story from several vantage points.

So, with no clear advances in the story on the horizon, I picked out what I felt have been the three best pieces from this entire fiasco thus far. These columns don’t necessarily outline any resolution, but in a vacuum, they offer commentary about the story and the current state of sports (and the media who covers it):

“The Worst Question in Sports: What We Talk About When We Say ‘Talk About’” by Bryan Curtis

Ever wonder why reporters ask the same benign questions? Yeah, me too. And Curtis, who is excellent, writes a phenomenal piece about an oldie but a goodie: the “Talk About” question (that’s not really a question).

Pull Quote:

“This is perhaps the only defensible Talk About: The one that puts the athlete or coach at ease by showing him you’re interested in what he has to say.”

 “Bill Belichick doubles down on Patriots’ innocence in deflate-gate, dares NFL to prove him wrong” by Dan Wetzel

For my money, Wetzel paints a setting better than anyone else in sports journalism. This piece, published hours after Bill Belichick’s defiant press conference last Saturday, does exactly that:

Pull Quote:

“Whether or not that’s enough to explain deflate-gate away for you, at least try to appreciate the situation:

This was straight Original Gangster stuff by Belichick, a full-on punch to the face of the league office he has long despised and believes turns nearly every molehill into a mountain either because of general football incompetence or to drive television ratings.”

“Deflategate: Some Perspective, Please?” by Don Banks

Every time this story jumps the shark – and I’ve counted at least four separate occasions that this has happened – go back and read this piece on SI from Banks. It was published just hours before Bill Belichick went AP Physics on us.

Pull Quote:

“I find it deflating that the NFL rule book has grown so complex and obtuse that it makes the U.S. tax code look like light summer reading.

Remember when the league’s biggest problem was mainly that the Super Bowl was overhyped and always sucked? Ah, the good old days.”

***

That’s that. As always, thanks for reading. More to come. @Hadfield__.

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21 thoughts on “Sports Media Musings: The NFL Is Insane; 3 Best Deflategate Pieces To Date

  1. Can we talk about how the Boston media spent all day talking about how bad media day is??? They seriously at the point in Boston where the media has to ruin one of the most unique days of Super Bowl week for every fan? I have Felger and Tanguay telling me last night “easily the worst day of the week” It lasts like 4 hours in total. Is it because they are so important, other media outlets shouldn’t be there? Is it they actually have access to players so it makes it harder to troll? I think yesterday was my breaking point. Now fans should enjoy super bowl week….

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    1. Don’t Felger and Mazz go to the Super Bowl EVERY year, regardless of who is playing in it? I remember them being there last year. And the year before, at the very least.

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      1. The entire “sports interest” of the world is on the Superbowl, even if you’re in a state w/o a team.

        Every major media property sends their “biggest” guys there, if not everyone. They have to.

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  2. There is a smoking gun – no, not the non-existant one left in the bathroom stall held by a rogue Patriots ball boy, the one tburied by ESPN. Watch the following short clip reviewing a recent study done by ESPN’s Sport Science group.

    Underinflating a football to 10.5 PSI has a negligible impact on grip strength, and in fact causes a decrease to both velocity and accuracy when thrown. In other words, contrary to the piling on by the likes of Mark Brunell, Cris Carter, and virtually every ex-NFL player with an axe to grind, underinflating a ball has ZERO impact on the competitive balance of any given play, let alone an entire game, and is more of a DISADVANTAGE, if anything.

    So ESPN has scientific evidence–not to mention the real-world example of Tom Brady’s far superior second half using “properly” inflated balls–proving this supposed controvery is much ado about nothing, yet they contnue to trot out an endless stream of talking heads screaming about the “integrity of the game” being at stake? I’d love to know why this video, at least to my knowledge, has yet to be featured on an episode of Sportscenter or prominently displayed on the ESPN website.

    It just goes to show that ESPN isn’t at all concerned with providing the facts of a story when doing deprives them of an opportunity to juice the ratings books, the reputations of those caught in the crosshairs be damned.

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  3. Omigod a beacon of reason! Thank you so much Ryan. I guess you don’t have to go all “agenda” on us when you don’t have an afternoon show to promote.

    Mark/Me: Felger sucks
    Tony: YARM(you are right, Mark)

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  4. You’ve probably heard about the Warren Sharp (@sharpfootball) stuff where he’s got a ton of data to support the Patriots lack of fumbling since 07. To continue the narrative of “they did something wrong”, some major publications, including the WSJ, went with it.

    I’ve seen 3 rebuttals that have made the rounds:

    http://soshcentral.com/football-science/football-statistics/2015/01/27/fumbling-data-truth-patriots-fumble-rate/

    https://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/your-guide-to-deflate-gateballghazi-related-statistical-analyses/

    http://drewfustin.com/2015/01/27/patriots-fumble-comments/

    I’ve heard big media personalities blindly quoting Sharp here. I have no clue if he’s right, but I liked the quote from Aaron Schatz about statistics can’t prove any way. Still, it makes a great narrative. “BIG DATA SUPPORTS THE PATRIOTS CHEAT”. Run with it.

    We’re back to the same place we are before where the mandate for “reporting”, when you’re supposed to be a “credible” outlet, seems to be on clicks vs. credibility. As a regular person, how the hell should I, or any other person, know what to believe?

    The problem is that once some “big outlet” reports something, people take it as credible, when we continue to see that this is so far from the case. If you suggest or point out any agenda, you’re labeled a hater, fanboi, or something along that line.

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    1. This “they don’t fumble that much so that proves they tamper with the footballs” argument is even more insance than the others I’ve heard bandied about for the last 10 days. Did any of these guys bother to go back and checkout the huge drop in Stevan Ridley’s playing time after he developed a bad case of fumble-itis? Here’s a newsflash media morons: Bill Belichick will bench you if he feels that you fumble too much; and, to Belichick, fumbling more than once or twice per season is too much.I seriously cannot believe what I’ve been witnessing since the evening of January 18th, all because the insane, substance-abusing imbecile of an owner in Indianapolis decided to make a stink over a miniscule drop in the PSI of some footballs (perhaps with help from the mysterious “ex-Jet” in the league office, who knows).

      For shame, NFL. For shame, media (oh wait, they have no shame, so that’s not possible…..my bad).

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    1. I’m still waiting for the press release announcing the location of the long lost Metco Gorilla audio tapes?

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    1. I must admit, I’m a fan of Lynch, solely for his stance against the media. He’s on a rival team playing against us in the Super Bowl, and obviously I hope he has a mediocre game, but other than this game, I wish him a lot of luck and hope he continues to deal with them in the way he has been doing.

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    2. I think I fall on Stephen A Smith’s side when it comes to Lynch. He is paid millions to play football. His employer asks that he spend 5 minutes promoting the brand. He refuses. You may not like the media. you may believe that players do not have to do anything to make their jobs easier. But and this is the big but…if his employer tells him to be available to the media and make small talk…then he should do it. Instead he is embarrassing his employer. Furthermore he puts more pressure on his teammates because they now have to answer the “What do you think of Marshon’s battle against talking to the media”.

      I think this is wrong and as such Seattle and the NFL is within their rights to discipline him. To me this is a real story. But hey…its not like he let the air out of a ball.

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      1. Lynch allegedly has social anxiety disorder. (Though I’m more than fine with him shutting out the mediots). He should file an ADA complaint against the team and the NFL if he gets fined for blowing the losers off.

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      2. “His employer asks that he spend 5 minutes promoting the brand…But and this is the big but…if his employer tells him to be available to the media and make small talk…then he should do it. Instead he is embarrassing his employer.”

        From January 24th:

        http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/12218995/seattle-seahawks-gm-says-there-no-table-russell-wilson-contract-talks

        “Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider, speaking to team reporters Friday for the first time since the season began…

        ‘When asked if Schneider was tiring of Lynch’s act, he said, “I kind of like his act.””

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      3. Lynch on his relationship with the media:

        http://espn.go.com/espn/print?id=12248321&type=story

        “Hey look, I mean, all week I told y’all what’s up,” Lynch said. “And for some reason y’all continue to come back and do the same thing that y’all did. I don’t know what story y’all trying to get out of me. I don’t know what image y’all trying to portray of me. But it don’t matter what y’all think, what y’all say about me.

        “When I go home at night, the same people that I look in the face — my family that I love. That’s all that really matter to me. So y’all can go make up whatever y’all want to make up because I don’t say enough for y’all to go and put anything out on me.

        “I’ll come to y’all event. Y’all shove cameras and microphones down my throat. But when I’m at home in my environment, I don’t see y’all, but y’all mad at me. And if you ain’t mad at me, then what y’all here for? I ain’t got nothing for y’all, though. I told y’all that. Y’all should know that. But y’all will sit here like right now and continue to do the same thing.

        “I’m here preparing for a game,” Lynch continued. “And y’all want to ask me these questions, which is understandable. I could get down with that. But I told y’all. I’m not about to say nothing. So for the reminder of my, what’s that, 3 minutes? Because I’m here I’m available for y’all. I’m here, I’m available for y’all. I talked. All of my requirements are fulfilled. For the next 3 minutes, I’ll just be looking at y’all the way that y’all looking at me. Thank you.”

        On Thursday, Lynch offered “shoutouts” to his hometown of Oakland, California, to his teammates and to the Family First Foundation. He also responded to a question about the Seahawks’ best player, saying, “All of them.”

        “NFL contracts require players to merely make themselves available to the media, an obligation Lynch has seemingly satisfied with his five-minute appearances. It is unclear whether the league could still impose a media fine, since the league’s official policy contains no language about a player having to be available for a specific length of time.”

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