East Valley Tribune's Scott Bordow (center), flanked by Bidwill media lackeys Darren Urban(left), Kate Brandt (right).
Why has the popularity of amateur sports journalism websites, such as bleacherreport.com, skyrocketed in recent years?
Perhaps because readers yearn for realistic analysis or for an alternative to club-fed propaganda. And no sports reporters should be more realistic or skeptical than those who are assigned to cover the Arizona Cardinals -- the club that's managed by the most inept owners in NFL history.
The motives of the Bidwill family, who are notorious for their miserly ways, have continually come into question over the years. Are they really interested in winning? Or is maximizing profit their only concern? Given their long past of failure, these are legitimate questions -- questions that should not cease until their commitment is proven with wins on the field.
Throughout this summer, the anticipated "big story" out of Cardinal training camp was the promised QB competition between Kurt Warner and Matt Leinart. Kurt Warner, the fan favorite, saved the 2007 season with a brilliant performance after Matt Leinart was injured and the defense was decimated by injuries. Not only did Warner badly outplay Leinart, but in the process, he treated Arizona fans to some of the best QB play seen in recent Cardinal memory.
However, many Cardinal fans -- plus Kurt Warner himself --were vocally skeptical that the promised competition would actually occur. After all, the meddling Bidwills have been pushing for their marketing gimmick, Matt Leinart, to be annointed the starter -- despite his posting the worst NFL QB performance of 2007, and despite Kurt Warner posting one of the best.
The Bidwills, assisted by Darren Urban -- the former East Valley Tribune sportswriter turned Bidwill front office employee and propagandist, and Kate Brandt -- the azcardinals.com website komissar -- set out to minimize Warner's great 2007 season using every ethically questionable means at their disposal.
First, they posted a fan MVP poll that omitted Kurt Warner along with his 27 TD's as even a choice.... and then they posted a season highlight film that featured a couple dozen touchdown catches, but they went to painstaking extents to edit out Warner and the actual throws! Consequently, an un-sanctioned poll posted on their forum resulted in Warner easily winning the MVP vote.
And where was the mainstream sports press when this was happening? Did they stand up for fairness? Did they call out the Bidwills for their lack of class?... for their ingratitude to the player who strapped a large brace on his badly torn left elbow and saved the 2007 season?
Except for courageous reporting by the Arizona Republic's Dan Bickley, the greater Phoenix press have held their tongues. As a result, many Cardinal fans have grown disgusted with reporters who are evidently more focused on maintaining their spot in line at the Cardinals' Tempe HQ Buffet than in delivering objective reports.
Some of the worst offenders even actively helped the Bidwills further their agenda, and perhaps none more so than Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune. Bordow -- a friend and former co-worker of Bidwill propagandist Darren Urban -- has published a series of offseason puff pieces that read as if they were penned by the Bidwills themselves.
In one, he advanced the Bidwills' usual agenda of dumbing down expectations. He predicted an improved club, but a 7-9 record and no playoffs. Yet last season, they finished 8-8, their defense was decimated by injuries, and Whisenhunt personally blew 3 or 4 games with rookie coaching mistakes. That doesn't add up, but it sets up a rationale for wasting the next season on "QB of the future" development.
He also failed to question the obvious: Two weeks ago, Leinart declared that he was "clueless" last season; but now he claims to have mastered the offense... yet a simple internet search revealed 2007 quotes from Leinart that directly contradict this. Before the 2007 Charger preseason game, Leinart reportedly handed Whisenhunt a note in which he predicted a 10-10 performance. After Leinart went 7-7 throwing short dump off passes, he declared in a post-game interview that he "felt good". The question of whether Leinart was lying then or lying now would ordinarily make a good story.... or perhaps how Leinart's "cluelessness" could escape the notice of coach Whisenhunt?
Then there was Bordow's article in which he declared that "Warner is better, but Leinart should start". He rationalized that the Cardinals won't win the next Super Bowl, so Warner should be benched. Meanwhile, most Cardinal observers recognize that the 2008 team is stocked with top talent that has a high likelihood of leaving after the 2008 season -- namely Boldin, Dockett, Dansby, Wilson, and Warner. In other words, the future is now.
Is it asking too much for some off-the-record opinions of those who will suffer the most from Leinart -- the receivers? For example, how does Boldin or Fitzgerald feel about returning to Leinart who threw them a combined single touchdown through 5 games, as opposed to Warner -- the QB who averaged 1 TD per game to each?
In his latest obscenity, Bordow gushed over Leinart's preseason, 7-8/108 passer rating performance throwing to checkdown receivers against the Saints' backup defense (5 defensive starters did not travel). He then declared Leinart the winner of the sham competition -- despite Warner having received no snaps this preseason. Did Bordow really forget that Leinart's 2007 preseason passer rating was 104?... and that the wheels did not come off his game until the regular season games began?
Legendary Irish newspaper man Finley Peter Dunne once said that "the job of a newspaper is to comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comfortable".
Yet Scott Bordow has managed to comfort Bill Bidwill -- the all-too-comfortable -- and he has helped cover up the sham QB competition at a time when the fans need a reporter to stand up for one player against an entire organization.
With Dan Bickley reporting on the Olympics from Beijing, and Bordow -- the Bidwill lapdog -- publishing Darren Urban press releases and talking points under the guise of analysis, it's no wonder fans have turned in droves to bleacher report as an alternative source of honest Cardinal analysis.