If you’ve been reading PFT this afternoon and you got a case of whiplash while going from one post saying the lockout is back on and another post saying no ruling has come down, you’re not alone. So I’ll try my best to clear things up.
Early this afternoon, Michael Silver of Yahoo reported that the players were bracing for an appeals court to grant the owners a stay of Judge Susan Nelson’s order ending the lockout, and that the lockout could be back on at any moment.
I had written a post at PFT on Silver’s report and was about to hit the “Publish” button when ESPN interrupted SportsCenter with a “BREAKING NEWS” report saying that the court had granted a temporary stay of the players’ injunction, reinstating the NFL lockout. Because the ESPN scoop would have superseded Silver’s scoop, I hastily re-wrote that post to first provide the “breaking news,” attributed to ESPN, and then provide the background, attributed to Silver.
However, as I kept SportsCenter on, I noticed something strange: Not only was ESPN not giving this major story the wall-to-wall coverage I would have expected, but they weren’t even reporting it anymore. By the time they went back to the NFL lockout story, ESPN was reporting only that the court was expected to decide whether to grant the temporary stay — which isn’t really news.
So what happened? One possibility is that ESPN saw Silver’s report and, in a rush to get on the air with the news, misunderstood what Silver was reporting. ESPN never attributed anything to Silver, but he was the first to report that the players were expecting the owners to win their temporary stay, and all the stories that have come out today have followed Silver’s reporting.
Another possibility is that ESPN saw a notice from the appeals court and misunderstood it. Today the court put out a notice on the case that included a statement saying, “appellants’ motion for stay is hereby granted.” That notice was referring only to a motion to file a brief, not the motion to stay Judge Susan Nelson’s order ending the lockout, but it’s easy to see how someone could misread it in the rush to get the news out.
To be clear, the appeals court hasn’t issued anything yet to indicate one way or the other whether the lockout is on or off through this weekend. But Michael Gans, Clerk of Court for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, told Will Brinson of CBSSports.com that ESPN should be “penalized for a false start.”