When it comes to major articles that make a stir throughout the football-following world, I’m always fascinated by the timing. Was the story published when it was because that was the first moment it was ready, or was the moment the item went live strategically selected?
In the case of Seth Wickersham’s article about the friction and dysfunction between and among Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft, it’s fair to wonder whether ESPN picked the Friday of wild-card weekend in order to draw attention away from the coming slate of games.
Or, perhaps more importantly (and maybe more accurately), to set the agenda for every pre-game, post-game, in-game, out-of-game NFL-related TV or radio broadcast on a weekend where the focus ideally would be and should be the eight teams that will be playing.
If that was the objective, ESPN is also hurting itself, sort of. Bristol has a playoff game on Saturday featuring the Titans and the Chiefs, and too much talk about the Patriots takes away from their one and only postseason broadcast.
It’s a small price to pay, however, given that the Friday-morning article will dominate the day and resonate into the weekend. Then, when the Patriots are available to the media next week, the story will find new life, as Belichick and Brady are asked about it.
Then there’s the reality that ESPN showcasing Wickersham’s article will inspire/shame the network’s small army of NFL insiders to track down as much information as they can to keep pushing the story forward.
So get ready for non-stop, wall-to-wall Patriots talk, here, there, and pretty much everywhere.