In the NFL, there are strict confidentiality rules about drug testing and suspensions under the league’s substance-abuse and performance-enhancing substance policies. But in the case of Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, someone spilled the beans even before the suspension was reported today by ESPN.
On Reddit’s Patriots message board on Wednesday night, a user going by the name Redditlover1981 posted, “Rumor: Edelman potentially getting suspended 4 games for PED’s.” Although Redditlover1981 didn’t say where he heard the rumor, he said that it would be “national news” that was breaking “tomorrow.”
Sure enough, “tomorrow” came, and it became national news: Adam Schefter and Field Yates of ESPN reported this morning, citing unnamed league sources, that Edelman is facing a suspension.
So who is Redditlover1981 and how did he know about this story that was about to become national news? We have no idea, but one guess is that it could be an ESPN employee who was in a position to know that ESPN was working on the story. Redditlover1981 has previously taken up for ESPN’s coverage of the Patriots, defending the ESPN article about dissent within the team that had Patriots fans so angry. So it appears to be someone who knows what ESPN’s reporters are working on, and someone who would rather defend ESPN than criticize it, even in Reddit’s Patriots section, where defending ESPN doesn’t make you popular.
Redditlover1981 also could be someone with connections to Edelman, to the Patriots or to the NFL, but that seems less likely: Someone connected to those camps might know Edelman failed a drug test, but how would he know that the failed drug test had been leaked to the “national news” and that the news was going to be reported “tomorrow”?
The fact that Redditlover1981 can post such information anonymously shows just how difficult it is to keep a secret in today’s social media environment. Whether it’s information only Bryan Colangelo was supposed to have ending up on Twitter, or confidential information about the NFL’s drug testing policies ending up on Reddit, news that athletes, team executives and leagues want to keep under wraps often ends up getting public.