The oft-exhumed, multi-platform ESPN interview with Martellus and Michael Bennett was hauled out of its crypt once again this week.
It's hard to divine exactly what prompts the Worldwide Leader to decide that it's time to repurpose an offseason conversation with the Patriots tight end and the Seahawks defensive lineman and present it as if it just happened, but if the aim is creating new buzz with old quotes, it works.
- MORE PATRIOTS: Bennett would rather enjoy ride than worry about next deal
- Broncos QB Siemian wanted to go to the Pats to learn with Brady
- Pats probably don't need a dominant red zone D to be a Super Bowl team
This week, ESPN produced a feature for one of its shows using the months-old, on-camera footage then sent its reporters into the field to ask players and coaches for their reactions to the repackaged, repurposed, recycled quotes.
One of the targets was Jason Witten. Martellus Bennett said that he "hated" Witten when the two were teammates in Dallas.
Witten was asked this week about Bennett's review.
"Busy schedule,” Witten said. “I’ll make sure to get around to that real quick to see it. I did hear about it. Marty is a good player. He really is. He enjoys entertaining, but I’m glad he’s in a good place now and he’s having a good year so far. He is. He’s a good football player.”
Bill Belichick was similarly asked this week about comments Martellus Bennett made about the Bears roster. The comments may have been made in August as well and publicized or they may have just been brought to light this week. Tough to keep track. Anyway, Belichick wasn't up to talk about them.
If this seems like a criticism of ESPN's approach to creating new waves of news based on earlier reporting, it is. And I probably wouldn't be so attuned to it it weren't for the fact ESPN got in on the ground floor with blatantly incorrect reporting on Deflategate then remained in cahoots with the NFL to allow that incorrect report to stand even when the NFL gathered information that would have rebutted it. More than a year later, ESPN continued to falsely feed perception that the Patriots purported actions were definitely sinister as opposed to possibly eyebrow-raising.
All the while, ESPN leveraged that original report and the perception it created to feed the content maw on radio, TV, digitally and in its magazine up to and through Tom Brady's return last week when it shamelessly turned the countdown to the Browns game into Brady Week on all platforms.
The line between reporting the news and manufacturing the news isn't blurry at all. It's been obliterated.
Actually, as I think about it, is one guy hating a former co-worker even "news" in the first place? Or is his saying so publicly "news"? I can't deny it's good gossip and illuminating information and that all of us - me, CSN New England, NBC as well - toggle between personality "news" and entertainment and actual news affecting related to the football product. But the appearance of creating news that should have seemed like a bridge too far is now one we stand ready to cross while ESPN is already waving to us from the other side.