ESPN is, without a doubt, the Worldwide Leader in Sports. I check them out religiously, whether it be on TV or online, and I love what they do. So, now that I've gotten that out of the way, let me say how I truly feel about them as of late.
I have been a big fan of the ESPN family for a while now, and whenever I would hear whispers or see comments about them having a certain bias, or what have you, I usually would just chalk it up to fans taking things to heart. But now hear I am...
The icing on the cake for me came recently, during the whole Ed Werder fiasco. It was then that I had finally had it. This love/hate relationship with top teams has got to give. Either you love them or you hate them. It cannot be both.
As a Cowboys fan, I love hearing about my team when there is actual news to report. Stirring drama to create headlines is just childish, and I expect more from the ESPN network.
It is no secret that T.O. has a shaky relationship with ESPN, mainly Ed Werder, Keyshawn Johnson, Tom Jackson, and now probably Emmitt Smith; not to mention a Mr. Matt Mosley, who covers the NFC East on his weekly blog.
This is obviously a battle he cannot win and I do not want to get into defending T.O.
My argument is this: Is the lashing the Cowboys receive week in and week out not also relevant to all the other teams that are or were supposed to be at the top, regardless of injuries?
- The San Diego Chargers were coming off a highly impressive run to the AFC Championship last season and gave the Patriots all they had despite being banged up, including QB Rivers and go-to runningback Ladanian Tomlinson. Fast forward to this season: They lose Shawn Merriman, and Norv Turner loses his team. They cannot even compete in the weak AFC West and you hear nothing but "the Cowboys should have been better prepared to lose Romo."
- The Washington Redskins start off an impressive 6-2, Clinton Portis is running like a wild man, Campbell is playing efficiently, and all signs point to Jim Zorn being a "genius." The second half of the season comes around and the wheels fall off. Suddenly, Campbell is struggling horribly and Portis is trashing his coach (kinda reminds you of something, doesn't it?), yet all this gets swept under the rug after making a measly splash.
- The Dallas Cowboys start 3-0 and are the toast of the town since everyone picked them to win the NFC East and go to the Big Show. However, the New York Football Giants start off even better, at 11-1, and suddenly are the best thing since sliced bread. A Mr. Plaxico Burress decides to enter a nightclub and shoot himself in the leg and that makes for great AP and ESPN coverage...for one week!!! The Cowboys go on, despite the drama, to beat the Giants in Week 15, and you would think it would be the Giants' turn for scrutiny. Instead, what do you hear?—"Cowboys Avoid Distractions...For Now."
- This brings us to the last game at historic Texas Stadium, and with all the juices going and Cowboys legends in attendance, one would expect nothing but a storybook ending. Wrong. Ravens win. So here come the horses once again. Cris Carter makes one of the stupidest comments I have read. Mark Schlereth tries his best to land a subtle jab at T.O. and the 'Boys in reference to Derrick Mason playing with an injured shoulder and making crucial plays. Now, I am not taking anything away from Mason, because he played with heart, but this is exactly what I'm talking about. Why do other teams not get this kind of criticism when they fail to meet expectations?
I won't even begin to go into all the off-the-field issues that have surrounded teams, besides the Burress situation.
So, just to be clear, I have absolutely no problem with criticism. The Dallas Cowboys have brought a lot of this on themselves. Being "America's Team" does have its downside.
Yet, while the local media may make these arguments I mention, if you want to do it on a platform like ESPN, you have a responsibility to play Fox News—and be "Fair and Balanced" (or so they say). But that's neither here nor there.
The Cowboys may have many similarities to the Yankees, but there is no need to create turmoil in order to stimulate interest or generate ratings. Last I checked, the NFL was the king of all sports and ESPN was the Worldwide Leader in Sports.
You would think that marriage would be enough.