Watching the TV late Friday afternoon when the words came scrolling across the ESPN ticker…Breaking News…Jeff Fisher to be the new HC of the St. Louis Rams. Fair enough. I did wonder if he might sit out this year considering he might want to be in SoCal…maybe having an eye on the job Norv Turner should have lost…but didn’t. Then again, if Turner wasn’t let go this year will he ever be?
Obviously, the Miami Dolphins would now be greatly disappointed they did not land Fisher. Reports were money would be no issue for their ownership. Since the words passing along the bottom of the monitor indicated Jeff had settled on the Rams, all of us would now logically conclude the job descriptions were different. Ultimately, Fisher must have chosen the job he felt most comfortable with. In almost every case, such comfort comes with as much control as you can get on personnel decisions. The job Arch-side must have included that; the job Beach-side did not. Both teams made their presentations. Jeff Fisher did his due diligence in negotiations with each. Decision made. Done.
Then, a few moments later…new words. Words indicating ESPN NFL reporter/”insider” Adam Schefter had a “source” indicating as recently as a couple of days earlier it was“80-20″ Jeff was going to choose Miami. More words shortly thereafter…to the effect the Dolphins wanted GM Jeff Ireland to remain as the #1 man in the decision-making department and that is what tipped the scale towards St. Louis.
Yet again in the sports world we find “news” delivered via an unnamed “source.” You might have heard earlier in the week a number of other unnamed “sources” made “news” in their sharp criticism of New York Jets’ QB Mark Sanchez.
Back in the day when I was pursuing a degree in Journalism it was universally accepted unnamed “sources” would be utilized if national security, government corruption or law enforcement abuse was taking place…but the sports world pretty much stuck to reporting results, facts and quotes…certainly sprinkled in with salty opinions as to who might go where and play or coach for whom. But as I recall, everything said was pretty much owned up to. Everything had a name.
Now, it is all about the Internet/Twitter/Facebook scoop. The speed to the “news” is often the most memorable aspect, even if it ultimately isn’t much “news” at all.
I’ve long ago stopped being disappointed in sports journalism’s use of unnamed “sources” to make “news.” We’re all grownups here. This has happened many times before and will many times to come. Sports is big business now…but please consider in this one instance…just for a moment…the initial “reaction” one might have regarding Fisher, the teams and the teams’ fans because of this additional “news” from an unnamed “source”:
1. The Rams (and their fans) - They’re hiring a guy who allegedly had them as his second choice. A great way to usher in a new era of football in St. Louis. Throw in the fact the competition for his services wouldn’t give him the master-key to their organization…and Rams’ fans can start wondering what Miami allegedly was so hesitant about.
2. The Dolphins (and their fans) - Whomever they eventually hire will now allegedly be – at least - their second choice…due to their alleged rigidity in letting Fisher have more control. If Jeff does well in St. Louis, Miami looks bad. And if that happens…and they don’t swim to the surface with who they eventually hire with Ireland’s role still intact…they look even worse.
3. Jeff Fisher – He’s accepted a position with a team that was allegedly his second choice. Also, there’s at least one team out there who wasn’t willing to give him total decision-making authority. We shall logically wonder why. His off-the-field moves will be eye-balled with even more scrutiny as his coaching moves from the very second he learns where the restroom is at Rams’ HQ.
In the instance of these negotiations, does the report from this unnamed “source” make anyone look any better? What is the point? Do we know it is even true? Perhaps all of this would be stated by Fisher and/or the teams eventually…but why go there now with an unnamed “source?” Even if it is true, maybe as Hall & Oates sing…some things are better left unsaid.
Especially if you’re not going to tell us who allegedly said them.
I saw across the same ticker the next day there was now only a verbal agreement for Fisher to coach the Rams. Details to be finalized. Oh, OK. Now it is not a done deal after all.
Well…my unnamed “source” tells me Fisher told St. Louis he would coach there…and then had once of his people tell Schefter about the organizational issue in Miami with final control on decisions so the Rams – who also originally had no intention of giving him ultimate power on decision-making – would now be intimidated to do so since it was now reported he would be coaching there and they would look bad if they did not close the deal.
See how easy it is to be a sports journalist these days?
I know this may come off as a very naively written piece but if I got you thinking for just a moment…mission accomplished.
I don’t feel awkward. Everything I wrote here is in my name and I own up to its accuracy…except for my unnamed “source” conversation. Never happened.
But it got your attention. Sometimes, that’s all that matters in sports journalism today.