Around dinner time last night I got a call from a friend in Oklahoma City. Busy, I answered and asked if I could call her back. With great excitement in her voice she said, "Sure, if you want to wait to hear that Favre is coming to the Vikes!"
Apparently she had seen a news trailer which intimated that Adrian Peterson, in Oklahoma over the weekend for a football camp, confirmed Brett Favre's arrival to his team.
No, I said, that isn't true.
I explained to her that news had broken that Favre was having surgery on his bicep. And that THAT was news. Everything else was speculation.
When the news broke over Favre having surgery, the reports that this meant an imminent arrival with the Vikes flew like tumbleweeds across the plains. It's important to remember that those "reports" carried about as much weight.
A careful look at all the press, including a review of Vikings.com, indicated nothing about Favre signing with the Vikes.
Yet, I saw several articles that reported this as a fait accompli.
This is unacceptable.
As journalists we have a responsibility to write what is news, not write what we wish were news.
And we have a responsibility to check facts, and if necessary check them again. If you are not certain of something, you should not be reporting it.
Not once, in all my reading on Favre, have I heard him quoted directly as stating that he remains in football just to spite Ted Thompson. Those words have never come out of his mouth. Yet, they have been reported as fact.
This is very important.
There truly are people out there who believe everything they read in the paper.
It is not just irresponsible, it is UNCONSCIONABLE to attribute words to someone that they have not spoken. It can have irreparable consequences on their reputation.
Don't believe me? I'll bet it's even happened to you—someone quoted you to a friend or family member with something you had never said.
And I'll bet you didn't like it.
Let's remember that as we move ahead into the football season and as the Favre drama continues.
Let's remember that we are reporters.
And not novelists.