Why Mike Tomlin and Tom Jackson Are Absolutely Ridiculous

Two recent events have me wondering: What the hell's happening to sports reporting?

I’d like to focus on what I think were a couple of criminal media faux pas this week in hopes that it will clear up notions of what the public should expect from the people who cover sports.

This is a subject near and dear to my heart since I began my career as a newspaper reporter, where the sanctity of the story and the dedication to the reader were always precious to me. Every time I see this premise bastardized, it makes me foam at the mouth.

Exhibit A: Last weekend, after the Jets had upset the New England Patriots to get to the AFC title game, Jets’ linebacker Bart Scott railed against ESPN football analyst Tom Jackson for picking the Patriots to demolish the Jets in the game. Jackson, a former NFL player who wears that title like a tattoo on the forehead, as if nobody could possibly have as much credibility as a linebacker who played in the dark ages, apparently was embarrassed that he had let down a member of his fraternity and tried an obtuse (or insane) way of trying to make up to Scott. Jackson said he picked against the Jets as a way of motivating the Jets, because, you see, he IS a Jets fan. [SIGNUP]

“Sunday, I played a little bit of a psychological game with the Jets,” Jackson said on the Mike and Mike Show, heard daily on that wonderful sports talk station, 97.5 FM The Fanatic.

“I thought more important to the Jets than hearing another score of ‘24-21, they have a chance to win,’ was that it was important to have in their mind, ‘You got beat 45-3. A large segment of the population believes that can happen to you again.’ The Jets are all watching [NFL Countdown on ESPN]. I wanted to further fuel and cement in them that bunker mentality of us against the world…

“As a defensive player, I certainly knew they had a chance to win and I thought they might certainly win the game. But I knew when they saw 30-10 [his prediction], that I think they would be reminded of what most people were feeling. And I knew they needed to be a little angrier going on the field.”

Dude. Seriously.

That may be the weakest, lamest, most weasely explanation I have ever heard in all my years of covering sports. You mean to tell me that Tom Jackson was worried more about what the Jets would think of him for picking against them than actually giving his true feelings to the viewers of NFL Countdown? Jesus, Tom. Grow a sack. Who gives a shit about Bart Scott yelling in your direction? Take the heat. You analyzed the game, made your pick and got it wrong. It’s unbecoming of you to turtle up for the sake of offending a football-playing pseudo asshole buddy.

Now let’s get to Mike Tomlin. The Pittsburgh Steelers coach was apparently miffed that ESPN reporter Bob Holtzman, using sources inside the Steelers locker room (a couple of unnamed players, apparently), revealed to his viewing audience to watch out for a trick play in Pittsburgh’s AFC semi-final match up with the Ravens. Some blogger idiot named Chris Chase (what his sports journalist credentials are, I have NO idea, since in today’s Internet world, any dweeb with a keyboard can pass himself off as a sportswriter) wrote that Holtzman’s report was “an egregious breach of reporting etiquette.” Really? How? Part of a reporter’s job is to cultivate inside sources. If Holtzman was a good enough reporter to have two Steelers volunteer information to him (so long as they didn’t emphasize that the information was off the record), then he has every right to use it to benefit his audience. He didn’t skulk around in the dead of night trying to steal team secrets. He didn’t lurk around practice disguised as a mascot in order to see what the Steelers were practicing. He got the information the way he was supposed to get the information. By talking to sources.

We are breeding a nation of newbies who come out of college wanting to enter the sportswriting field as star-struck super fans, getting their dick hard by being in a locker room around pro athletes and then, caring more about offending the teams, players or coaches rather than doing their stinking job. I couldn’t give a rat’s ass if Mike Tomlin was annoyed that I reported the Steelers were going to use a trick play. That information was given to me by team members! If Tomlin has a problem with that, then tell his own players to shut the fuck up!

Maybe Tomlin could have looked at it the other way. Maybe Holtzman’s report put the Ravens so on the alert for this so-called trick play that was supposedly going to utilize Antwaan Randle El that it actually opened up other offensive avenues for the Steelers.

Tom Jackson, Mike Tomlin. Stop taking yourself so seriously.

Listen to MIKE MISSANELLI weekday afternoons on 97.5 The Fanatic.