NFL media is part of our everyday life. We’ve all watched a full week of football at home and then scrambled to the nearest computer, re-watched the highlights, read the articles and took in a wealth of information from sites such as NFL.com and ESPN.
However, with the constant input of media we consume during football season, we occasionally run into the frustration of witnessing a misleading, clumsy piece of journalism, and when it comes from a reputable source, we feel annoyed, even betrayed.
In same cases, a piece of shoddy journalism may even slip through the subconscious itself, and go unnoticed.
Here are examples of five such pieces from Week 6, as well as a handy categorization system to help cope with the suffering.
Pieces tend to fall in one of three categories.
A misleading headline, an unsupported thesis, or just a puff piece, what makes these articles “Trickin’” is that they are not overly harmful—just sloppy, clumsy, or weird. Most pieces are “Trickin’.”
Pieces that are “Hatin’” usually come with a narrow point of view without considering another side, or possess a hidden agenda.
A tale of sound and fury, signifying nothing—and everything that is wrong with sports journalism today. These are the pieces that make you want to break something.
Let’s take a look at some Week 6 stories.
However, being the hottest news story of the week, this article (and many who read it) fall victim to a classic “bait-and-switch,” as the headline on the NFL.com homepage bears the ultra-enticing statement “Raiders' Jackson: Palmer deal the 'greatest trade in football.”
Clicking leads you to the modestly-titled article, with a video sub-titled “The Greatest Trade in Football?” dangling in front as a reminder for all viewers that just in case your forgot, yes, somebody in sports said something was the greatest of something.
This is simply taking a brief statement Hue Jackson makes early in the interview and desperately twists it into a juicy story, while smoke-screening any actual content.
If Palmer stinks or the Raiders miss the playoffs, get ready to hear this sound bite a lot.
This piece is Trickin'.
This piece is a video from NFL.com, and with it, I present to you a challenge.
Watch the video, count to 10, and tell me if you remember whether or not “Tebow Time” will indeed last based on the facts presented.
In fact, if you can remember anything from the video, you are a better person than I.
The opening video presentation is about a minute too long. If you kept watching, you might have heard Charles Davis mention that although he is a big supporter of Tebow (his amazing rationale being to simply laundry-list every member of the Denver Broncos organization), he is probably not the long-term solution, and the metaphors of roller coasters, might-be’s, college records, smooth rides and complex jargon makes you long for the simplicity of John Madden’s ramblings.
Kara Henderson even takes Davis to school here, presenting a cap on the piece that within seconds made more sense and was more informative than any of the mess we were just exposed to.
This piece is Trickin’.
It’s fun to speculate.
That’s why very, very early in the season, NFL publishes the playoff picture, giving a fun glance to some playoff matches we know will not be happening this postseason (I’m looking at you, Bengals/Titans).
While including the playoff picture this early is mere conjecture, it is the accompanying “Best Team In The NFC East?” video that ultimately offends.
Steve Mariucci picks the Giants but ultimately claims that the division is open to the team whose quarterback plays the best. Pretty sound opinion, nothing questionable.
However, Michael Irvin counterpoints by saying the Cowboys, as being undefeated in the division, look to be the best team. Yes, in fact, the Cowboys are a sizzling 1-0 this year in division games and are on pace to sweep the NFC East.
However, even Irving—after being verbally assaulted for his opinion—backs off, seeming to understand that he’s talking a little crazy.
The playoff picture is fun, so I won’t get mad, but regardless, that’s still two minutes and nine seconds I can never have back.
This piece is Hatin’.
You can smell the "bait-and-switch" already.
But hey, If anything could counterbalance the soothing, falsetto voice of Michael Kay, it’s Mark Sanchez’s droll musings of “whatever,” “I don’t care” and “that’s OK, we’ll get there,” which makes for a soul-crushing radio piece.
Of course, using the classic “bait-and-switch” on ESPN New York’s site by listing the headline above, this interview ends up being so non-threatening and dull that even Michael Kay seems to jab Mark Sanchez out of desperation, asking him if he realizes he’ll need to win games to make to the playoffs.
Sanchez simply replies in monotone, with the presence of mind to deflect any form of controversy that Kay tries to dish out, and even gets ahead of himself, saying that in Week 12, “(The Jets) will look back and laugh...(and say) 'Hey, remember when (The Jets) were...whatever.'”
Yes, whatever indeed, Sanchez. Don’t try to promise that when The Jets are in Week 12, they’ll be laughing at anybody.
Don’t try to inspire confidence at all. How they milked this out to fifteen minutes is astonishing.
This piece is Trickin’ (and boring as hell).
Now, maybe I’m letting personal feelings get in the way as a big fan of sportsmanship, but this ESPN article is the type of stuff that gets my blood boiling.
This article is a prime example of fabricating a story and claims to find a deeper problem where none actually exists.
Ross Tucker, former NFL player, finds forced handshakes appalling, and mentions that he never appreciated them as a young adult.
Well, that’s fine, but to object to the NFL not disciplining Harbaugh and Schwartz? They apologized and understood that the situation is best put behind them and not worth getting angry about.
If Goodell could allow Cedric Benson one free pass for assault charges, I am fairly certain he would not fine two players who showed the same maturity instilled within these coaches.
Tucker later claims that hockey players who are forced to shake hands “don't appear to be doing it because they are compelled to, even if that is the genesis of it.”
Oh, really? That’s very interesting—tell me more.
“I had no interest most times in talking to the guy I was just trying to physically punish for 60 minutes, especially after what he might have said about my mom in the third quarter.”
Really, Tucker? What makes hockey and your mother so magical that you or any other football player can’t look an opponent in the eye and say “good game”?
Strong opinions do not make for a strong article, and I'm sorry I unleashed this upon you all.
This piece is Madness.