We don’t really know much about Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News. He’s likable on ESPN’s Around The Horn — or, perhaps more accurately, he’s the least unlikable of the majority of the shouting heads who appear on the show, including one guy who likely did some shouting over the weekend from the wrong side of reinforced glass in L.A.
Cowlishaw’s name hit the national NFL radar on Sunday afternoon, when he saw fit to inject himself into the Darrelle Revis holdout, “reporting” in shoulder-shrugging fashion on his Twitter page that a deal will be announced, “probably Wednesday.” He then added the perfunctory “[y]ou heard it here first,” and tipped his hat to “Inside information!”
The unconventional “report” triggered an avalanche of contradictions. Though Cowlishaw brushed off the efforts to debunk his report as the predictable machinations of beat writers, he overlooks the fact that a much broader collection of national figures also have said, based on “Inside information!”, that Cowlishaw’s report was and is wrong, including ESPN’s Adam Schefter, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, NBC’s Andrea Kremer, and SI.com’s Peter King. Even certain Internet hacks got in on the “Revis and the Jets aren’t close” routine.
Through it all, we learned (and others have since confirmed), that the Jets are making substantial progress with center Nick Mangold on a long-term deal. With a tree-killing written document that we’ve heard will consume 70 pages or more when finished the current focal point of the team’s efforts, it seems unlikely that G.M. Mike Tannenbaum would be trying to spin two multi-million-dollar plates at the same time, especially since all indications are that the Jets and Revis have many significant hurdles to overcome.
Undaunted by the denials, Cowlishaw has reiterated his report in an item on the DMN web site. But, with all due respect and discretion to Cowlishaw, his online item seems to have less to do with putting meat on the bone and more to do with: (1) explaining the circumstance of his original report; (2) echoing the notion that he expects Jets beat writers to disagree, while still ignoring the multiple national writers who have agreed with the disagreement; (3) bemoaning the self-created disruption to his “day off” (what in the hell is a “day off,” anyway?); and (4) providing himself with an escape hatch if/when he ends up being wrong.
“I wasn’t trying to suggest there’s a deal-breaker involved, but who knows?” Cowlishaw writes of his use of the term “probably” before “Wednesday.” He adds: “Things of that nature happen all the time.”
Here’s something doesn’t happen all the time. The principals involved in a contentious and newsworthy situation, when pursued aggressively by a flood of media members who are trying desperately to confirm or deny a controversial report, don’t tell on an off-the-record basis rampant and repeated lies with straight faces regarding the status of the contentious and newsworthy situation. Though we can’t and won’t disclose our sources, it hardly takes a forensic scientist to realize that, at some point in the day on Sunday, someone with direct knowledge of the situation, whether aligned with the team or the player, said on a “don’t quote me” basis that Cowlishaw’s report is wrong. There’s simply no way that so many local and national people would be openly disputing the report if folks who know what’s going on weren’t disputing the report with an express request for anonymity.
It’s not impossible that so many folks would be jeopardizing their own credibility by telling off-the-record falsehoods to people who buy their ink by the truckload, but it would be largely unprecedented, even in the truth-challenged world of pro football.
Sure, maybe the Jets and Revis have decided as part of their code of silence that they’ll jointly spring the announcement on the world via a “special announcement” at the start of Wednesday night’s edition of HBO’s Hard Knocks, perhaps even with a live broadcast of the signing ceremony. But if that’s what’s happening, more than one guy would inevitably find out about it — and once word of it got out at least one “source with knowledge of the situation” would do something other than lie through his teeth.
So we remain confident that nothing currently is happening between the Jets and Revis, and that if anything goes down in the short term it will be coincidental to Cowlishaw’s report. We think his source — who by all appearances isn’t one of the principals but who is “in the loop” on matters of this nature — misread the tea leaves, and mistook Mangold for Revis. So when it doesn’t happen between Revis and the Jets, Cowlishaw will reiterate his “[t]hings of this nature happen all the time” explanation, possibly with a twist of “once I reported it the turtle pulled his head back into the shell.”
Meanwhile, we don’t fault Cowlishaw for laying the foundation for an eventual retreat. Since he openly believes that it’s normal and acceptable for beat writers to “shoot down” stories like this even if they’re accurate, Cowlishaw probably also believes it’s normal and acceptable to swing the bat, miss the ball, and then blame the pitcher.
Finally, if Cowlishaw connects, the same people who were burning up the phone lines on Sunday in an effort to follow up on Cowlishaw’s report will be calling their sources again. This time, the question marks will be replaced with exclamation points — and the exclamation points will be following some of the language heard routinely on Hard Knocks.