ESPN and others fumble the Johnny Manziel/Manning Camp story

hi-res-156906706_crop_650x440Late Saturday night, a single report emerged on the internet that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was sent home from the Manning Passing Camp in Thibidaux, LA following a late night of partying last Friday. which caused him to miss morning assignments at the camp the following day. This report came from Rumors and Rants, and did not pick up much traction until early Sunday when sites like ours, and others came across it when we woke up. Shortly after the smaller sites ran it, ESPN and other mainstream media sites began running stories about Manziel leaving the camp because of sickness. They failed to mention Rumors and Rants original story directly, let alone not linking to it, and just made a veiled reference to it as an internet reports. This was poor reporting by Chris Mortensen, who authored the article at ESPN, failing to give proper credit. Many other entities, like Pro Football Talk and CBS Sports made the same error in their reporting. These places should be held accountable for this.

For starters, there weren’t internet reports. There was one report. Labeling it as if it was a message board fodder was inaccurate and irresponsible. Why would ESPN find it necessary to even report about Manziel being sick and going home? There isn’t a reason. The reason Mort investigated it and reported about it is because of Rumors and Rants report emerging that he was sent home by Archie Manning. Star players miss practices all the time, and this wasn’t even close to being important as an Aggies practice, except for the initial report said he was kicked out. Therefore, people like Mort and Mike Florio should have cited the story properly, but instead, they failed.

I think one of the glaring issues at hand is that Mort went as far as to get a statement from the camp organizers and Peyton himself. The words in those statements seem to be carefully worded, as to almost dismiss the notion of Manziel being a problem, and them wanting go separate themselves from the situation. Manziel was taught a lesson, but the Manning’s were not looking to dress him down publicly. That being said, why bother proclaiming their statement, without addressing the original report, directly.

This is typical ESPN behavior with stories. They rarely give credit to other sites, and not just smaller internet sites and/or blogs. They even fail to give credit to entities like Yahoo! Sports when they break stories. ESPN loves to use the term ‘sources’ in all their reports, especially when it is sometimes hours after another reporter from another company reported it. This is common among their reporters on Twitter, as well. This was a common occurrence during NBA free agency. The same cannot be said about someone such as Adrian Wojnarowski from Yahoo! Sports, who normally beats everyone to the punch on a story, when he doesn’t, he credits the individual who reported it first. While Pro Football Talk creator and lead writer Mike Florio will give credit to universally known sports sites, he never tips his hat to smaller places like Rumors and Rants for legit news. Which is unfortunate, because Florio was at one time a small time guy before hooking up with NBC Sports. Another site in the NBC Sports network, College Football Talk, did mention Rumors and Rants, but did link to it. While better than what Florio and Mortensen did, it still doesn’t give credit where credit is due.

There was one individual at ESPN that actually linked to Rumors and Rants, and that was Wright Thompson, but he did so while knocking the site and the Dallas Morning News’ Kate Hairopoulos for legitimizing the story publicly when she tweeted about Manziel’s father issuing a statement about his son suffering from dehydration (ya know what causes that?) and him failing to speak directly as to how his son was removed from the camp.

We would be remiss to not mention that Manziel was seen out and about on a bar crawl Saturday night in College Station, as Busted Coverage posted a picture of the Heisman Trophy winner miraculously recovered from his sickness less than 24 hours after his dismissal. If he was legitimately ‘sick’, as his father put it, I would hope that the media chastise this poor choice from a leader like Manziel.

Now, a personal note. I’ve been a reader of Rumors and Rants for the past several years. Ryan Phillips, the founder of the site, and the one responsible for the report is legit. While the name of the site is what it is, don’t be mislead by that (remember good old Sparty & Friends?). He doesn’t just throw crap at the wall to see if it sticks for the sake of SEO and page views. No, we reserve that kind of thinking for Florio, who threw up a post about the impact of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman verdict on the Aaron Hernandez case. This was a legit report, based on facts available, and other sites failed to give him credit for the real story. I know he doesn’t want people feel sorry for him or his site, but I know, like anyone else would, he would appreciate credit for his hard work.

(UPDATE: We’ve been informed that Mike Florio did contact Ryan Phillips and updated his original post to include a link to Rumors & Rants. We applaud Florio for this and also for the apology he offered to go along with the link. Mort, we won’t hold our breath on)

Will this behavior change? The answer to that is likely not. There is still a stigma of bloggers living in their mother’s basement trying to make a mockery of journalism. The truth is, many blogs have partnered with major sports sites, like Rumors and Rants with Fox Sports operated Yardbarker, and don’t pander to the rumor mongering like blogs of the past. Most smaller sites like our own attempt to include the humor of blogs past, but also give our own personal commentary that doesn’t typically fit the mainstream media flavor.

We leave you by giving a hearty applause for Rumors and Rants legit reporting, and we hope that places like theirs and others of that ilk receive credit when they do a job well done.

  • dock

    typical espn bs. I have totally stop reading any story they put out because they never investigate what they say.

  • brenda hitt

    So what’s the drama we need to get out this? Manziel driving drunk? Raped someone? Killed someone? I’m really not understanding WHY ‘investigating’ and ‘reporting sources’ and ‘needing credit’ is eating you up. THIS isn’t even newsworthy. Let us know when he goes on a shooting spree or gets busted with a kilo of cocaine or something.

  • Big D

    remember good old Sparty & Friends?


    Take it to the bank.