The biggest story of a story-packed offseason arguably came from the Dolphins, who were poised to acquire Sean Payton from the Saints and, eventually, Tom Brady from the Buccaneers. It was, as we’ve said many times, was a done deal — until former Dolphins coach Brian Flores filed his lawsuit against the team, the league, and other teams.
Making the story even more intriguing is the fact that it wasn’t a bigger story. Folks like Dan LeBatard have expressed justifiable apoplexy over the fact that it wasn’t and still isn’t a much bigger deal. On Tuesday, Simms and I kicked around the failure of this very big story to be a much bigger story during PFT Live.
I’ve previously written that the story wasn’t bigger because ESPN and NFL Network, the two biggest fish in the NFL-coverage pond, never embraced it. I’ve suggested that they ignored and/or downplayed it because it wasn’t their story.
So why didn’t they make it theirs?
As to ESPN, Simms suggested (i.e., don’t send any GFY texts to me about it) that Adam Schefter’s common link to Michigan with Brady and Dolphin owner Stephen Ross kept Schefter from either confirming the story or attempting to advance it. And that makes sense. Schefter at one point was going to have a role with agent Don Yee’s Pacific Pro Football League. Yee represents Brady AND Payton. All Schefter had to do, once the chatter emerged of the Dolphins landing Payton and Brady, was contact Yee to confirm it. Or, as often is the case, to obtain some new detail about the situation, flimsily justifying a decision to ignore the pre-existing reports.
But it’s one thing to know it. It’s quite another to report it. Our guess is that Schefter knew about it, but that he decided for reasons unrelated to his overriding goal of informing the audience to keep it to himself.
As to NFL Network, it surely would have been frowned upon by the owner/operator of the business (i.e., the NFL) to report on an arrangement that necessarily violated the letter and/or the spirit of multiple NFL standards, including but not limited to the anti-tampering policy and the Rooney Rule. Making the story much more of a third-rail subject for anyone on the NFL’s payroll is the fact that the Flores lawsuit against the NFL derailed the Payton/Brady/Miami arrangement.
With both ESPN and NFL Network sitting this one out from a reporting standpoint, the story never became as big as it could have been. Of course, there’s still a chance it will become a big story, if/when either or both of these networks decide to make the situation the focal point of the Week One, box-checking, Sunday Splash! reports.