But be warned. Commenters please spare us the "who really cares about this?" nonsense. Noam Chomsky would be on the same side. But the fact of the matter is that we are all visiting a blog that's ever-so-loosely associated with the Jets and reading a post about a player who made offhand remarks about the finer points of proper journalism on a terrible podcast that no one listens to in mid-July.
Who are we trying to kid?
If we're here, whether we like it or not, we DO care.
Anyway, so here's what Tone said on the Dave Dameshek podcast on NFL.com ...
If you guys want to be -- and this is for the New York media -- if you guys want to be a part of our team and want to feel so important, be there to support us, not to try to break us down,” Holmes said. “Because (there’s) not one day that we all step in that locker room and we try to break each other down, that we talk bad about the way that person played, because it affects the team the way one person plays if they don’t play to perfection.I think there's a lot of things at play here that I'm thinking about and I think that for me to best address it, I'm going to need to tick them off ... so here goes ...
“So, if the New York media wants to be a part of our team and wants to continue writing about us, write positive things. Stay away from the negative, because it doesn’t do anything good for our team that you want to report all the negative things that happen and that’s all you want to talk to us players about. We live for one thing, and that’s to play football, and not to entertain you people in the media.”
He's Not the First
As Bent astutely pointed out, it's not as if Holmes is the first guy to lecture the New York Jets beat on their function. Chad Pennington, one of the most likable and good-natured players on the Jets in the last fifteen years fell face first into this bungee pit, so I'm not about to feign any outrage about Holmes' views on how the media treats players. We're sure that players aren't thrilled with many of the questions they're forced to answer and the media might be the one group of people that routinely asks them tough questions and they don't like it. I don't know that I would.
The Role of ReportersIn some ways, Santonio paints us a fanciful picture of what he perceives the media's role to be.
Based on Tone's comments, reporters want to:
1) Be part of the team
2) Feel "so important"3) Discuss only all the negative things
4) Report only all the negative things
According to Tone, reporters should:
1) Be there to support the team
2) Not try to break down players
3) Only write positive things to remain on the beat
4) Not expect players to "entertain ... people in the media"
When it's boiled down like that, the comments seem even more out of touch with reality than on first glance. Is this what Holmes perceives the actual role of sports media in fact, is? Even if used as a template for the team's own reporters (Randy Lange and Eric Allen) these are outlandish parameters to place on even in-house reporting.
Santonio might not like the negative reporting, but does he not see the very role he played in creating the negative feedback loop by which he is now beleaguered? To me this seems like he's throwing stones in his own glass house.
Now I'm Done
Whatever Santonio said on the podcast, we had to see coming. Santonio has galvanized himself from the media since the end of the season and all the comments and bad pub that came out about him right after the season ended. In Florida, he had that awkward interaction with Manish, then he ducked reporters for three days last month during OTAs after he had that moment where he sat out some plays. Now this.
This skirmish could just be the start of a war this season, but I suspect the Jets will try to get control of the issue. Santonio might have more to say on the matter, or he might start declining interview requests or just give "no comments" to the press. Either way, he's going to be asked about this lecture on NY sports media as soon as someone in the New York market gets a chance to talk with him. Remember, the beat got their dander up over Mark Sanchez bringing prepared remarks to the podium in his rookie season ... how is this supposed to go over?
Santonio did exhort the media to "be there to support us, not to try to break us down ... because [there's] not one day that we ... try to break each other down, that we talk bad about the way that a person played." OK fine, but how do we then reconcile that statement with the ones Santonio himself made about his teammates, publicly last year?
- October 3rd, 2011: "It starts up front with our big guys, they need to do a better job protecting Mark and Mark has to do a better job making his reads and getting the ball to playmakers.”
- October 13th, 2011: "I may be criticized again for saying it, but I think it starts up front. And the big guys know it. (If) they give Mark (Sanchez) enough time to sit in the pocket and complete passes, I think everything changes. If you can't protect the quarterback for four, five seconds, then there's no point in dropping back seven yards to throw a football when he doesn't have enough time."
Cognitive. Dissonance. Not. Working!!!!!!!!!
This Beat is DifferentI don't need to get into the differences of New York versus most of the rest of the United States. New Yorkers can be relentless when it comes to production, and that industriousness elsewhere in the life of a New Yorker tends to trickle down, even to the diversions we pick to distract ourselves from the truly demanding parts of our lives. The fans are all ready for the Jets to win another Super Bowl, and until they do, we're not above making everyone aware that we're waiting. Can we blame the beat for picking that up too? New York sports journalists see their job as serious business ... and it is. Most of the reporters went to J School at Syracuse - meaning they're smart as hell and they're well trained in how to do their job. They are covering a billion dollar organization which is part of a multibillion dollar international cultural phenomenon and they take that s*** seriously.
In my best attempt to oversimplify, some reporters or editors directly or indirectly encourage them to paint the edges of general guidelines by using single anonymous sources in articles, a practice that is allowable, but is easily discreditable. Unfortunatley, I do think that a lot of the Jets players (and fans) media problems can frequently be traced back to this. As Herm would say ... "put ya name on it!" But when reporters can't get players to do so, it's still in bounds for them to use it ... the problem for fans and players both is that an article can't be 100% transparent with how the news came about, or how much behind the scenes double checking a reporter might have done.
In the end, Santonio's attempt to take a stand looks like a losing battle. If Santonio is trying to make this an "us versus them" thing, that's totally cool, go with it, but this was poorly executed attempt if that was the case. Until he figures out how to circle the wagons properly, this will continue to go badly.
Such Great Heights
We'd be remiss if we didn't take Holmes' comments as a chance for self-inspection. Bluntly, I think Holmes got part of it right. I would never count myself as part of the beat, but I do see this site as an extension of it. I would love it if the Jets beat were wholly positive, but it's completely out of touch with reality. I would love to see feel-good stories written by members of the media about my favorite team on the planet, each and every day, but optimism can sometimes run too close a course to naïveté ... we've been there and it's just as dangerous as being too cynical.
Forget it even being positive, I would love it if the Jets beat discussed in gory details the virtues of the five-technique, the folly or genius of the Wildcat, the aesthetic beauty of a perfectly executed fire zone blitz. Believe it or not, the best and most intricate coverage of sports I have ever closely observed in my life, I had in the city where I hated the teams the most ... Boston.
Oh, they made Debbie Downer look cheerful most of the time, but for a New York fan, listening to Boston sports radio or opening a newspaper for a week could make me want to hurl myself off the Tobin Bridge into the Mystic River. But pay attention to it for a year and I learned to appreciate how passionate Bostonians are about the most frivolous and microscopic of sports details. For instance, I bet they could fill two days worth of talk radio about the how Rob Gronkowski's Q rating will affect his level of play and not break a sweat. It's disgusting and admirable all at the same time.
My point? That's an extreme example, but I would say that I found the media discourse more interesting and insightful about the actual sport being covered in Boston way more than I ever did for New York sports media - as much as it pains me to say it. The Patriots beat has a former Patriots scouting freaking assistant writing for them. Read the posts in this category on the ESPN Boston Patriots blog and tell me if you've ever seen anything like this ever done in New York by a mainstream source ... I'd be inclined to say no. The coverage could be much more Xs and Os driven, more statistical, more minute ... but it's not and I don't know who to blame about it. Is it my own fault? Is it only the most salacious or sensational story that moves the needle? Is no one properly setting the pace of the technical dialog? Are the writers just doing what their editors command them to do? Is this the coverage that we the fans are giving our tacit approval by not demanding more or better?
UPDATE 9:53AM ET: While there available in the comments below, I couldn't get everything out of my head and thought Bent's writing is equal to, or superior to mine.
While we’re all fans of the team and want the Jets to do well, it seems like there is a section of fans that want the media to behave the way they do, even though it’s counter-productive for the team. I agree that people should be held accountable, but witchhunts and cage-rattling can only be bad for the team.
It’s perhaps surprising that teams don’t have more control over who they choose to give access to. Don’t businesses and organizations in other walks of life try and manage their output by using trusted outlets? I get that there are special rules, but maybe those rules will be challenged at some point.
As soon as I saw Santonio’s comments, I wondered what possessed him to think that would be received any other way than negatively. Then I thought maybe he saw things differently because of how the media was when he was in Pittsburgh.
I emailed friend and former guest contributor of the blog Ryan Wilson of CBS to get his take on the Steelers beat. He, not surprisingly, said that their journalists were more respectful, didn’t take unnecessary shots at the organization weren’t looking for [crap] to throw against the wall.
It seems Holmes appreciated the media being supportive and giving him the benefit of the doubt when he entered the league. But the New York media isn’t going to change, so he’s just going to have to get used to it. This is something that’s out of the organization’s control, so I hope it doesn’t get so bad that players are turned off wanting to play here.
I guess winning earns you some leeway. When David Diehl (who had a terrible season) gets a DUI and everyone falls over themselves to say how brave and honest he is for admitting his mistake, it’s instantly apparent how differently the Jets are treated (when the media essentially forced them to suspend Braylon Edwards for part of a game for doing the same thing).
If roles were reversed, one wonders if the NY media would re-deploy its more negative staff to go after the Giants in the same way.