One of the headlines from Charlotte in the early days of the offseason program related to the size of the body of Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Now that Benjamin apparently is in shape, Panthers G.M. Dave Gettleman has a few things to say about the reaction to Benjamin’s bloat.
“This is what frustrates me with the media today,” Gettleman said recently, via Bill Voth of the website the Panthers own and operate. “They go to DEFCON 5 on everything. . . . Kelvin Benjamin being overweight was not a big deal. It was April 17. Can we all get a grip?”
For starters, the media doesn’t go to “DEFCON 5 on everything.” The media showcases the stories that the audience is expected to be interested in, at every given phase of the calendar. The media companies that do that the best way thrive; those that fail to write and talk about things of interest to the audience fail.
During the offseason, after players have had a fairly extended chance to eat as much and work out as little as they want, guys who show up out of shape naturally land on the radar screen. In this specific case, the media didn’t come to the conclusion about Benjamin being all about the beignets on its own. The head coach flagged the issue while talking to the media.
“He is a little heavy,” Ron Rivera said in late April. “He knows it. We’ve talked about it. We talked about what he has to do, and he’s done a great job. Am I concerned? Yes, because he is heavy. I’m going to admit that right now. But is he working hard? Absolutely. He’s been there every day and done the things we’ve asked him to do, and it’s all strictly on a voluntary basis.”
Voth curiously (or maybe not curiously, given that the Panthers employ him) failed to mention Rivera’s words. Instead, Voth pointed to media reaction to a May 23 video of Benjamin moving sluggishly and a May 24 picture of a jersey fitting Benjamin snuggishly. (That’s not a word. Yet.) That’s the irony of Gettleman’s comments and the hypocrisy of the article that came directly from the Panthers. The head coach told the media Benjamin had gotten fat; what did Gettleman and the Panthers expect?
Some would say he and they expected exactly what happened: Benjamin had a fire ignited under his enlarged ass, and he got it and the rest of his body into shape. Gettleman essentially conceded that when asked how Benjamin reacted to his mass becoming a meme.
“You tell me,” Gettleman said. “How do you think he responded?”
So, in other words, mission accomplished. Now, apparently, the Panthers are covering their own rear ends by washing their hands of any responsibility for the criticism of Benjamin by blaming it all on the media.