An apology for my tweet—and answering your questions about the voice of fans and the Friday Game Plan
GREEN BAY — Before I field your questions about football and The MMQB, a few words about a controversy that came up over the weekend that fired up Twitter and put Bernie Kosar in the headlines again.
Last Thursday, as an analyst for the Browns’ TV crew in the St. Louis-Cleveland preseason game, Kosar called the Rams' receivers “horrible.’’ That included Tavon Austin, the top receiver picked in the 2013 draft, who was taking an NFL field for the first time. Kosar said their parents “would be embarrassed’’ if they were watching the game. Kosar ridiculed Rams backup QB Kellen Clemens, following up a comment by his play-by-play man about Clemens meeting the Pope by saying, “Bless me Father for I have sinned. I have to watch him the whole fourth quarter.”
I was at the Rams’ headquarters Saturday on my tour of training camps, but I didn’t hear about the story till the evening, when The MMQB team was en route to the next stop, Kansas City. I found Kosar’s comments to be over the top—very surprising for a former NFL quarterback who was watching the first preseason game. Saying the parents of the players would be embarrassed if they were watching? And the religion reference? I thought it was wrong. And so I tweeted, “My question for Kosar after comments in Cle-STL preseason game: Were you drinking? Good guy. But waaay over the top here.”
I was trying to be funny in an unfunny situation. Of course, I didn’t think Kosar had been drinking. It was hyperbole. I should have just said, “What were you thinking?”
On Sunday, the Browns stated that they “don’t condone the personal and unprofessional approach’’ Kosar used in the game. Kosar called Rams coach Jeff Fisher and apologized for what he’d said.
I thought it was over—but the Twitterverse didn’t. You slammed me for asking Kosar the drinking question, for being Fisher’s lackey, for having the same agent (Marvin Demoff) as Fisher. My first reaction was: Kosar’s the one who erred here. I’ll be damned if I’ll admit I was wrong. But after being off the grid for most of Monday at Vikings’ camp, the more I thought about it, the more I started thinking I was just as wrong for jumping on Kosar with a bad joke that some would take as me accusing him of drinking during the game. And so, Monday evening, I tweeted that I was wrong for an insensitive tweet—and I was. No excuses. I could have been critical of Kosar without being crass. Altogether my fault.
There are scores on Twitter who wanted their pound of flesh from me even after I said I was wrong, which is their right. The bile was subhuman, but I think overall Twitter served a good purpose here. It was right that so many of you who read me and follow me called me out on this; in the old days, pre-social media, I’d likely have forgotten about it. You didn’t let me. It’s good that we have our readers/followers/listeners to remind us that we ultimately are reporting and opining for them. None of that should change the stories we report, but hall monitors can be good when our opinions cross the line.
About my relationship with the Rams: This is the third time I’ve written about this, and as I’ve said in the past, it’s your right to stop reading me or following me if you’re offended by the fact that I have the same agent as Jeff Fisher … and the agent, Marvin Demoff, is the father of Rams COO Kevin Demoff. I’m not the only one in the business with an agent who also represents people in football. And I don’t apologize for it. For those who think Fisher had something to do with my tweet about Kosar, he didn’t; we never spoke about it, and still haven’t. If you think it colors my judgment when it comes to criticizing or not criticizing people such as Fisher, that’s your right. I believe in being up front with you when there’s an issue like this, and I’ll continue to be that way.
Now, for your feedback.
WELL, AREN’T YOU NICE
Wanted to sincerely thank the whole TheMMQB.com team for its tireless efforts in making this website truly one-of-a-kind. In Peter’s Tuesday mailbag column, many of the readers gave glowing reports yet still found fault with certain aspects of the website itself. Unfortunately, this is a microcosm of our society as a whole. We don’t want to spend the extra five seconds scrolling down to an article we haven’t read yet—we want it to be posted front and center. Your website contains a plethora of articles and insights which aren’t available anywhere else—yet readers complain about the growing number of articles. I could go on and on. You guys have done a fantastic job in disseminating information from all aspects and facets of the game. In many people’s eyes, the website will never be perfect—they will continue having to spend that extra precious seconds of browsing time. But what should overshadow all of that is the product available to us, made possible through hard work and dedication. Thanks for all your continued efforts.
All I can say is thanks—and we’re going to work to continue to try to earn your readership and your trust.
Wow! I am absolutely blown away at the vast amount of content in The MMQB. Your column has always been my favorite part of SI and now it is an embarrassment of riches! I used to have to visit multiple sites for interesting articles and scour for hours to find the kind of content you have in one place. As I write to you, I am looking at 20 pages of content to help me through my early AM workout. I was actually excited to get in the treadmill this morning. (My wife and cardiologist thank you.) Thank you, and keep up the great work, excellent and interesting insight and superb human interest stories.
Thanks again. I need to get on that treadmill next to you.
VOICE OF THE FAN
Just reading the list of column titles for the new site. Sounds like you have everything covered but the fan. How about a column from a fan’s perspective? Maybe hold an open contest to find one or two columnists—maybe one diehard and one more casual fan—and let them give a different perspective. Might be fun!
We’re a work in progress, Chris, and we’ve been thinking about a couple of stories from fans’ points of view. Thanks for reinforcing that you want to read it.
THE KOSAR FALLOUT
Consider myself a long-time reader no more. Your ill-informed and inappropriate tweet regarding Bernie Kosar was a total ESPN move, one founded on speculation in order to draw attention to yourself (and let me guess: get more followers, right?). You’re a journalist, not a gossip columnist. Way to insert yourself into a story that has nothing to do you. Journalism 101, apparently. Shame on you.
My Tweet had nothing to do with speculation. It had to do with trying to be funny. I wasn’t, and I apologize for it.
FRIDAY GAME PLAN WILL LIVE
I’ve been a loyal reader of MMQB for the past decade and love the job you’ve all done with the new site. Question for Peter: Will you still be doing the game plan article on Fridays during the season? Thanks and keep up the great work everyone!