More than a decade ago, Ron Borges left the Boston Globe due to allegations of plagiarism. Eleven years later, he could be on the verge of leaving the Boston Herald for a different manifestation of laziness.
Borges allowed himself to be duped by someone pretending to be agent Don Yee. The guy who pretended to be Don Yee found Borges’ phone number on Twitter. Borges tweeted his phone number (possibly accidentally) a year or so ago.
(Pro tip for anyone in the media: If you accidentally put your phone number on Twitter, get a new phone number. If you don’t get a new phone number, be suspicious of any calls or texts from someone who doesn’t already have a spot in your contacts.)
The similarities between the fake texts Borges received and the article he wrote reveal a stunning lack of natural curiosity. Tom Brady supposedly will skip organized team activities if he doesn’t get a new contract. Why isn’t he simply threatening to retire? Brady wants “up-front money” similar to the contract signed by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco. What does that mean? Signing bonus? Full guarantee at signing? Something else?
People in the business rarely if ever use the term “up-front money.” Even though that may not have been a strong clue that something fishy was happening, it should have at least prompted Borges to ask, “What specifically do you mean by that?”
The fact that the Herald so quickly expunged the story suggests that Borges rushed it to publication with Fake Don Yee as the only source, and that Borges used the term “sources” to make it seem more credible. (Actually, plenty of people in sports media use “sources” when they actually have only one source, sources say.) If any of it were credible, the story would still be alive.
The next question is whether Borges’ career will be dead. The plagiarism situation from 2007 arguably should have been enough to kill it, especially since he had been using his “material from personal interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report” disclaimer as a license to use other people’s work without attribution for years. Will strike two (strike three, if you include the time he physically assaulted a boxing writer wearing a neck brace and a cane) be the end for Borges at the Herald?
Will this keep him from finding other work in sports media? Will it prompt the Pro Football Hall of Fame to strip Borges of his vote? Will it cause the Associated Press to take away his spot as one of the 50 voters on postseason awards?
Those are all decisions for others to make. The only decision that we can make is to never rely on anything Ron Borges writes or says, ever again. While his career may indeed continues, it’s officially dead to us. Anyone who relies on him in the future does so at their own risk.