On a day in which the allegation of Bountygate-riddled Saints general manager Mickey Loomis using a reprogrammed electronic device to listen in on coaches of opposing teams for three years rocked the NFL, you’d have to wonder how the league-run network would cover the report on their nightly “Total Access” program.
Unfortunately, an hour later, you’re left wondering.
You would think that this story, even if based on unnamed sources’ accounts, would warrant A-block time on NFL Network’s version of “SportsCenter.” Instead, the show was devoted mostly to the upcoming NFL Draft on Thursday night, and featured panel segments with analysts from Brian Billick to Willie McGinest. The top story was on the Dolphins’ interest in drafting Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the number 8 overall pick. The next item wasn’t even a news story – it was speculation on what the Vikings will do with the number 3 draft pick, which consisted of a field report from Minnesota, and a tet-a-tet between McGinest and Daryl “Moose” Johnston. This would be followed by a similar package involving the Browns, who will be on the clock with the number 4 pick after the Vikings make their selection. Other segments on the program included a discussion on whether Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III would be entering a better situation upon their being drafted to their respective teams, and a piece on number 1 overall draft picks, “The Ones.”
In fact, it seems that the top non-draft-related item on Monday night’s “Total Access” was the news of Eagles and Broncos safety Brian Dawkins retiring.
Incidentally, on this night, NFL Network debuted a new chyron scheme. In conjunction with this was a giant bar above the scrolling ticker, which fed nonstop data related to this year’s NFL Draft, including a draft order legend, and mock drafts from NFLN analysts like Mike Mayock and Charley Casserly. For high-definition viewers. this bar lopped off the “rundown” bar on the left side of the screen. So you couldn’t even check in and look for a tab teasing the Saints story.
I’m curious as to why NFL Network would choose to avoid acknowledging the report of Loomis’ eavesdropping. Think about it: they were all over the Saints’ Bountygate scandal. Hell, one of their own personalities even fingered who he deemed “the snitch” in the whole thing (and as a result, is no longer with the network). Could it be that since it’s currently at a stage where it’s simply allegations, they’re choosing not to report on it? Or is it because ESPN broke the story with open arms? I would hate to think it would be the latter.
Then again, if you look on NFL.com while “Total Access” was on the air Monday night, you’ll find “headlines” such as the offseason roster expanding by ten players, and the Titans’ quarterback situation. You’ll also find articles pondering how the NFL would be affected if Andrew Luck were drafted in 2011, or wondering if Tony Romo is “Done in Dallas?” Nada on Spygate South.
In fact, as of post time, the most recent news item on NFL.com regarding the Saints is a frenzy of a different nature – team owner Tom Benson placing his granddaughter, believed to be the successor of the team should Tom pass on, on unpaid administrative leave as a result of “a pattern of behavior” exhibited by the 35-year-old woman. The item reads on NFL.com that Benson “is using the leave to send a wake-up call.”
Incidentally, now would be a good time to give the National Football League a wake-up call: Why keep NFL Network viewers and NFL.com readers in the dark on a report that, while cited by anonymous sources, could mushroom into an even bigger headache for the Saints in the long run? I mean, how hard is it to put Lindsay Rhodes in front of a Teleprompter and inform viewers of this report, and that the Saints are denying said report? Are you afraid it might be a missed opportunity to promote “The Top 100 NFL Players Of 2012”?
Certainly, the NFL understands that there are dozens of other popular sports news sources that are making a mention of the alleged Loomis eavesdropping. As of 8 PM ET on Monday night, it’s the top headline item on Yahoo! Sports’ NFL page. Ditto for CBS Sports’ NFL page. The top trending story on The Sporting News’ NFL page: “Loomis Accused.” Loomis accounted for the top headline item on FoxSports.com’s main page, as well as that of Pro Football Weekly.
Even the popular political news aggregator The Drudge Report has an item on it that reads, “Report: NFL team bugged opposing coaches box for 3 years…”
It’s one thing if ESPN is breaking a football story before NFL Network.
But if even The Drudge Report beats you to a significant football-related news item, that is not good.
It’s as if Roger Goodell is covering his eyes, hoping the report dies down quickly. I wouldn’t be surprised if he issued a gag order on all NFLN personnel to even mention the Saints on Monday’s broadcast.
I don’t want to take anything away from NFL Network. Everyone involved does a superb job putting together content for “Total Access” that viewers – football fans – would be interested in.
I would think they’d be interested in hearing about a report that the general manager of a team that won the Super Bowl a few years ago was listening in on the other teams’ coaches for a few years, wouldn’t you?
Especially if it’s the same team that’s got Bountygate casting a bayou-like shadow on them.
But, no, that can wait. Let’s break down Ryan Tannehill’s draft stock while we still can!
I thought devoting a segment to sandwiches modeled after Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez was the worst day of journalism on NFL Network.
I was wrong.
UPDATE: Well, it was a day and a few minutes overdue, but three minutes into Tuesday night’s “Total Access” broadcast, Andrew Siciliano finally reported on the Eavesdropgate allegations – and yes, he credited ESPN with first reporting the story on Monday. They also had Steve Wyche, currently stationed in Virginia for Redskins draft duties, file a report on the matter. And yes, at around 7:39 PM ET, the top headline on NFL.com reads: “Authorities investigating alleged wiretapping by Saints GM.” I knew the league wouldn’t have their head in the sand on this issue, but this still begs the question: what took so long?