There’s an interesting dynamic playing out lately in Bristol. With so many NFL reporters and analysts under contract, ESPN is now using some of its on-air talent to break news — and other ESPN employees to debunk it.
In the case of the Vikings and the well-publicized “schism” in their locker room, the term was coined last week by Adam Schefter, who arrived at ESPN only 14 days ago. In the current SportsCenter loop featuring a segment from the Monday Night Football crew wearing identically-tailored Tony Soprano shirts in Houston Texans white, red, and blue, Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden both pooh-pooh Schefter’s talk of a Minnesota schism.
Tirico was somewhat diplomatic, pointing out that, based on “the players we talked to,” there was no report of a “schism” regarding the quarterback position.
Gruden was less tactful.
“I don’t know what a ‘schism’ is,” Gruden said, echoing Favre’s initial comments on the topic. “I did ask several players [and] several coaches. There is no schism there. They are all very excited that Brett Favre is a Minnesota Viking.”
Of course, Gruden is hardly an objective observer. He was an assistant coach in Green Bay early in Favre’s tenure there, and Gruden tried to get Favre a year ago when he was traded by the Packers.
Since Gruden has no apparent history with his new colleague at ESPN, it’s no surprise that Gruden opted to support Favre — and in turn to diss Schefter’s report.
UPDATE: ESPN’s Ron Jaworski, who was silent during the videotaped segment featuring Tirico and Gruden talking “schism,” addressed the issue during a subsequent phone-in spot on SportsCenter. (Sock puppet Robert Flores chuckled goofily at Jaws’ use of the Schefter-coined “S” word.) “We saw absolutely zero evidence of that,” Jaworski said. “We talked to players. We talked to coaches. We talked to administrators. And there’s just a belief that a lot of it was somewhat fabricated.” So, basically, Jaws is saying that his colleague made it all up, “somewhat.”