Curiously, neither report indicated that an opportunity had been given to Mallett to respond.
Mallett has now responded, through his agents. In addition to the comments from J.R. Carroll to Adam Schefter, Mark Humenik of Athletes First has forwarded to PFT a written statement from Carroll and David Dunn. Here it is, in its entirety.
“There is absolutely no truth to the unfounded and irresponsible report that Ryan skipped his visit with the Carolina Panthers on April 9 because he was too sick after a late night out on the town the previous night. Rather, Ryan had dinner with club officials from the Panthers on the evening of April 8 and then returned to his hotel that evening along with Julio Jones. Ryan and Julio were together the entire time that evening until Ryan and Julio turned in for the night around 10:00 — 10:30 pm.
“Upon returning to his hotel room, Ryan became ill and was up most of the night and into the morning with flu-like symptoms. Keep in mind that this was Ryan’s fourth team visit in the previous week and that Ryan had crisscrossed the country with stops in Cincinnati, Fayetteville, Seattle, Fayetteville again and Minneapolis before Charlotte. Nevertheless, Ryan met with Panthers representatives on the morning of April 9 as scheduled and informed the club at that time that he was extremely sick. Carolina officials decided to send Ryan back to his hotel room for some medicine and additional rest in hopes that they could meet with Ryan later that morning. Ryan did as instructed and contacted Panther officials later that morning to resume his meetings with club officials. However, given that Ryan was still sick, Carolina officials decided to cancel the remainder of Ryan’s visit with the team.”
The Panthers have corroborated that version of the events, in an e-mail to PFT: “Ryan Mallett came for a visit to Charlotte two weeks ago. He had dinner with our coaches the evening he arrived and came down from his hotel room for a scheduled breakfast meeting the following morning upon which time he informed a staff member that he had been sick all night with nausea. We told Ryan that if he was ill to remain in his room as long as the nausea existed. We took him to the airport later that afternoon for his scheduled flight.”
Though we’ve got no reason to help or hurt Mallett’s draft stock, this story is a prime example of the extent to which the media can get sucked into potentially bogus or embellished draft rumors. While we appreciate the irony of a rumor site commenting on the very journalism principles that for years we have disregarded, this is more of a liability concern, and that’s a topic about which I’ve been sensitive from the day we launched. Any media outlet that disseminates inflammatory information about a player that could hurt his draft stock and cost him millions without first seeking a response from the player or his agent could get sued for defamation.
It’s also wrong, in our view, to participate blindly in the agenda-driven efforts by agents who represent rival players or teams that, ironically, want so badly to be able to draft the player that they’ll lie about him. Whether it’s trumped-up rumors about injuries or chatter about off-field behavior, folks who run with those nuggets could be stepping into a proverbial jackpot.
Though no one has been sued such a report, the key word to add to that is “yet.”
That said, if one or more people saw Mallett out that night and they go on the record to say so, that would be one hell of a story.