ESPN ISSUED INTERNAL “DO NOT REPORT” WARNING ON FAVRE STORY
When we asked for PFT Planet to chime in regarding the possible reasons for ESPN’s decision to avoid the story of Brett Favre’s coaching internship with the Lions, we never expected to hear from someone at ESPN. But we did. A source, who for reasons likely related to making the monthly mortgage payment has asked not to be identified, has forwarded to us a version of ESPN’s internal “Hot List,” which provides a detailed rundown of the current stories that might merit mention on the various ESPN properties. It’s a lengthy collection of news and nuggets regarding all of the major sports (and golf). At the bottom, there’s a description of one specific story that should be avoided. Under the heading “DO NOT REPORT . . . DO NOT REPORT . . . . DO NOT REPORT . . . DO NOT REPORT” (um, we get the point) appears the following: “Yesterday, FoxSports reported that Brett Favre spent 60 to 90 minutes before the Week Two game between the Lions and the Packers educating the Detroit coaching staff regarding the Packers’ offensive strategies. WE HAVE BEEN TOLD BY RELIABLE SOURCES THIS REPORT IS NOT TRUE. We did NOT report it yesterday. Today, the NFL responded to the report, saying even if Favre did this he did not break any league rules. We are NOT reporting it today, because that would mean airing the erroneous report. DO NOT REPORT IT.” We’ve got several problems with this explantion. First, much like the rumors from several years back regarding Kordell Stewart’s sexuality, the story eventually becomes the story. The mere fact that there’s an unresolved pissing match between Favre and Jay Glazer while a Lions head coach repeats “no comment” like Drew Rosenhaus barking “next question” is newsworthy, regardless of whether Glazer’s report is accurate. Second, we know for a fact that folks in the building are privately saying that believe that Glazer’s report is true. Third, Glazer has a long history of being on the money. Shouldn’t that be a factor in the question of whether the story at least merits a mention? Fourth, what’s the problem with reporting that the story isn’t accurate? Doesn’t it make ESPN look good in comparison to a competitor? (Then again, maybe ESPN only clears the air as to their own inaccurate stories.) On Wednesday, Favre undoubtedly will be asked about the situation when he meets with the media for a weekly press conference. Applying the logic reflected by the above quote, ESPN’s “do not report” mandate should also apply to any response Favre makes to Glazer’s report. After all, in ESPN’s estimation, the report is wrong. Having Favre repeat his denial of the report won’t change that. Bottom line? We think there’s still more to this one than meets the eye. But at least we now know why Bristol’s rank and file aren’t talking about it. On the air, that is.