After NFL Media jumped the gun last night, reporting that cornerback Brandon Browner already had agreed to a contract with the Patriots, I wondered whether NFL Media would eventually claim to have been right all along if Browner eventually agreed to a contract with the Patriots.
Now that Browner has agreed on Friday (not Thursday) to a three-year deal (not two-year deal) with the Patriots, NFL Media is indeed claiming that Friday’s developments vindicate Thursday’s erroneous report.
“I guess we know who was right all along,” an NFL Media spokesperson told PFT via unsolicited email. “I hope that will be noted.”
I responded by calling that claim a crock of something other than chocolate, so I got this reply: “Ummmmm now that he is a Patriot it’s pretty clear [Ian Rapoport] was right all along.”
So let’s look at when and how Rapoport was “right all along.”
The initial report from Rapoport was unequivocal and unconditional and ultimately uncorroborated: “Ex-Seahawks CB Brandon Browner has reached a two-year agreement with the Patriots.”
After agent Peter Schaffer disputed the report and accused NFL Media — on the record — of “irresponsible” journalism, the fallback, face-saving explanation became that Browner had “spread the word to those close to him” that he’d agreed to terms with the Patriots.
(I may have missed that day of “J” school — actually, I missed all of them — but hearsay doesn’t seem to be good enough.)
If Rapoport was “right all along,” there was a point on Friday where he conceded that he was wrong. Both Rapoport and Albert Breer reported that Browner’s visit to the Redskins, postponed from Thursday, “is back on for today.” If Rapoport was “right all along” that Browner had agreed to a two-year deal with the Patriots on Thursday, why would Rapoport and Breer report on Friday that Browner would be visiting the Redskins?
Look, we all make mistakes from time to time. Seven years ago, we killed Terry Bradshaw. But when he dies, we’re not going to say we were “right all along.”
That’s basically what NFL Media is trying to do. Thursday’s report was premature, and thus incorrect. The report from earlier in the day about the Redskins visit represents an admission that Thursday’s report was premature, and thus incorrect. It would have been far better to just admit that Thursday’s report was premature, and thus incorrect, to learn from it (e.g., don’t report that a deal is done based on things that a player supposedly is saying to friends), and to move on.