New England Patriots Work Out Cleo Lemon: ESPN's Creation Dies

Ryan WinnAnalyst IAugust 2, 2009

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 10:  A man holds up a sign in support of Michael Vick formerly of the Atlanta Falcons during the game against the New Orleans Saints on December 10, 2007 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Saints defeated the Falcons 34-14.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Two weeks after Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested for breaking into his own home, another severe case of mistaken identity took place on the grounds of Gillette Stadium.

After former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was conditionally reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, a media tornado touched ground on the NFL shield, asking the question on every football fan's mind: Where will Michael Vick end up?

It was all speculation until a landmark turn in the summer's biggest story—Vick was reportedly close to signing with a team.

Which team could it be? Someone in the UFL? Will he be traveling across the northern border to the CFL?

No, neither of those would generate much interest. ESPN wanted to entice its viewers, and to do that, you must try to meet Aristotle's six elements of drama. Vick signing with the New England Patriots would certainly accomplish this:

  1. Plot—A convict free from the shackles of federal prison looking to redeem himself in the only business he knows.
  2. Theme—In order to turn his life around, the convict works out for the NFL's rehabilitation team in New England.
  3. Character—Vick, Bill Belichick, and Goodell, three extremely different personalities, mesh together to create a storyline for six months that's good for the whole family.
  4. Diction/Language/Dialogue—Key phrases such as "wouldn't rule him out" and "close to signing" push the mystery to its breaking point.
  5. Sound/Rhythm—In a way only Belichick can do it, the Patriots seem to want Vick while not wanting him at the same time.
  6. Spectacle—According to ESPN's reports, Vick is spotted working out for the Patriots.

If you were to ask a Magic Eight Ball if Vick would end his search strapping on a Patriots helmet, it would probably tell you all signs point to yes. However, like any good drama, you would never be able to predict this ending.

It turns out, much to the dismay of the Worldwide Leader in Sports, the Patriots were actually working out, and are close to signing, former Dolphins starter Cleo Lemon.

If watching from a distance, it is understandable why someone would mistake Lemon for Vick. After all, their skin tones are similar, the media put the image of Vick with the Patriots in everyone's head, and who wouldn't like to see a story of this magnitude end after all the Favre firestorm.

There is only one, glaring problem with this: Lemon is right-handed, and Vick is left-handed.

One would assume that, in a workout for a position that primarily focuses on throwing the ball, these spectators would have seen at least one pass.

In fact, Vick was known to have been in Virginia in a bankruptcy court hearing the same day it was reported he was in Foxborough.

It should come to no surprise that ESPN would throw out any report on a matter such as this regardless of validity. During this same time, as Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was reported to have strained his MCL.

Before breaking the news, the ESPNEWS anchor said with a gleam in his eye, "In news that is sure to begin more Brett Favre speculation, Tarvaris Jackson suffered a knee injury in practice today."

Roughly five seconds later, he told the world Jackson would miss two weeks—of training camp. Why would the Vikings rush to the Rolodex for Favre's number with this development? Apparently, only the news network knows.

Perhaps Vick does end up signing with the Patriots, and perhaps the NFL and ESPN will get the drama they seem to so desperately want.

Next time, just make sure you are doing a story on the right guy.