Ten years after the Boston Herald had to backpedal regarding a major story that made the Patriots look very, very bad, the Herald possibly will be doing it again.
The report from Ron Borges of the Herald regarding the supposed intent of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to skip OTAs “unless he receives a contract extension that carries with it up-front money similar to what his former protege, Jimmy Garoppolo, will receive from the San Francisco 49ers” was apparently the result of someone pranking Borges.
According to WEEI’s Kirk & Callahan, a show listener known as “Nick in Boston” claims that he texted Borges, pretending to be Garoppolo’s agent, Don Yee.
“Hello Ron, this is Don Yee,” the text chain begins. And Borges apparently trusted that it was Yee. Says the Fake Don Yee, eventually: “Brady is prepared to sit out all offseason team activity unless he gets a new deal with up front money similar to what Jimmy got.”
Responds Borges: “Sounds like I need to write a column today.”
Other texts from supposedly Fake Don Yee made their way into the Borges column, including the notion that “12 was not going to return unless McDaniels was named the head coach in waiting.”
Borges seemed to be looking for more details before running with the information, but Fake Don Yee quickly signed off for the evening. It’s unclear what, if anything, Borges did to confirm or debunk the information he had received by text from Fake Don Yee; ultimately, Borges wrote an article pushing the key concepts that Fake Don Yee had fed to Borges.
Just as this isn’t the first Patriots problem for the Herald, it’s not the first professional problem for Borges. In 2007, he left the Boston Globe “following a two-month, unpaid suspension for plagiarizing another reporter’s column.” The violation at the time came from Borges’ longstanding habit of crafting a Sunday notes column with a general disclaimer that said “material from personal interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.”
It was, in essence, a self-issued license to plagiarize. Indeed, at one point, I’d noticed in a single Sunday column from Borges multiple items that had appeared initially, and as far as I could tell exclusively, on PFT. I emailed him about my concerns, and it didn’t go well.
It’s about to not go well for Borges. (We’ve contacted the Herald for comment.) Plagiarism generally is the kiss of death for anyone who writes for a living. Blindly trusting a phony source without any apparent effort to confirm the identity of the source or the accuracy of the information is a close second.