When Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports reported last week that receiver Dez Bryant had been asked during a pre-draft interview whether his mother is a prostitute, the story generated little buzz. Any team that had asked the question, however, knew at that point that Bryant was offended. But no apology came.
Three days ago, Silver outed Dolphins G.M. Jeff Ireland as the person who posed the world’s-oldest-profession question. Immediately, Ireland apologized. Since then, however, the rest of us have received no official explanation from the team regarding the reason for asking the question, or the specific context in which it arose.
But why bother to issue a statement or hold a press conference when the media is chock full of people to whom the team’s version can be leaked, and who’ll be sufficiently grateful to get the scoop that they’ll present it as the Gospel truth without any meaningful follow-up questions?
Here’s the version that the Dolphins apparently are selling: (1) Ireland asked Bryant what his father does; (2) Bryant openly admitted he’s a pimp; (3) Ireland then asked what mother does; (4) Bryant said that his mother works for his father; (5) Ireland then asked if his mother is a prostitute.
The story originated, by all appearances, on the Twitter feed of the Dan Le Batard Show, a staple of 790 The Ticket in Miami. Frankly, the tweet reads like a joke. Apparently, it’s not a joke.
Which, of course, makes it a joke.
Dan Levy of SportingNews.com writes that he has “verified through our contacts that this is how the story went down, at least from the Dolphins standpoint.” Also, a media source tells us that multiple ESPN employees privately have been pushing this version of the events, a bizarre development if true. (Then again, ESPN is a “broadcast partner” of the league, and Dolphins V.P. of football operations Bill Parcells is a twice-former — and possibly future — employee of the network.)
Let’s assume that, indeed, the Dolphins are putting out this story as to the team’s version of the events. If so, it’s one of the most cowardly and ill-advised tactics we’ve ever seen.
Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports tells us that he tried, starting last Thursday, to gain access to Ireland so that he could ask whether Ireland asked the question in question to Bryant, and then get Ireland’s version of the events. But the Dolphins did not give Silver access to Ireland at any point before the story ran on Tuesday. If the version that the Dolphins are now privately disseminating is the truth, why didn’t they simply let Ireland explain the situation to Silver?
And why, if this version is true, would Ireland apologize on Tuesday? If anything, Ireland should be pissed off that Bryant twisted an otherwise innocuous line of questioning into an inquisition in which Ireland blurted out the offensive question like a Tourette’s patient.
This latest development fails to pass through our B.S. filter. Though the Dolphins are trying to make the situation better, they’re only making it worse.
We’ve got a feeling that, once Silver or someone else follows up with Bryant, it’ll get even worse.
UPDATE: Jim Trotter of SI.com has also posted an item regarding the Dolphins’ version of the events, citing two unnamed members of the organization as his sources. And Trotter buys it, hook, line, and sinker. Hey, securing and maintaining access often comes with a price.