As the slow time moves toward a conclusion, the Washington Post has published a profile of an NFL reporter who always lives life in the fast lane.
Sometimes, too fast.
There’s no denying Adam Schefter’s success, primarily when it comes to reporting on trades, signings, and other moves five minutes before those moves are announced to the world. He has positioned himself almost uniquely (with the exception of a couple of folks who work directly for the NFL) to regularly get the consideration of the five-minute head’s up before the announcement is made. As Myles Simmons has said on #PFTPM, when he previously worked for an NFL team (he has been employed pre-PFT by the Rams and Panthers), the digital crew would be told that, as to the announcement of certain moves, Schefter would break the news and then the team would announce it, basically five minutes later.
Schefter has leveraged that platform, fueled by his eight-figure (almost) Twitter feed. He’s very aware of the reach. As we’ve heard from multiple people in the industry, he actively uses those statistics to persuade people to give their scoops to him first. Which gives him even more reach. Which allows him to further leverage that reach for more scoops.
When it comes to at least one prominent NFL agent who routinely sends information to multiple reporters, Schefter has gotten to the point where he gets it long enough before everyone else to win the 280-character race.
But there are flaws, glitches. Strange little quirks. It’s fine. It’s humanizing. We all have a few wires that are crossed. Schefter, for example, didn’t want to be photographed for the profile.
“I want you to get what you need,” Schefter told the Post photographer. “I hope I never fucking see them. I don’t need any more attention.”
He doesn’t need any more attention, but he sat for a two-hour interview with the Post as part of the profile it was doing on him.
He presumably did that to have a direct voice in a balanced profile that inevitably would include some criticism. Strauss didn’t have to turn over too many rocks. One of the topics included Schefter’s recent missteps, fueled apparently by an all-gas, no-brakes approach to gathering and disseminating information on social media. Tweets regarding Vikings running back Dalvin Cook and Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson created the clear impression that he was doing a favor for the players and/or their agents in order to ensure that the pump remained fully primed for more information in the future.
Per Strauss, multiple ESPN employees (speaking on the condition of anonymity) said they were concerned that the reporting “reflected a failure to understand the sensitivity of domestic violence allegations.” When Strauss told Schefter about these concerns, his first question was, “Are they going to go on the record?” As if that makes the concerns not real.
Schefter then denied that he was carrying water for anyone. “I’ve never put out information thinking I would get something back in the future,” Schefter said. “If people want to work with me, great. If not, OK.”
Sorry, but that’s just not true. It’s not. He periodically takes one for the team because it serves the greater good of fueling his Twitter nuclear reactor. He’ll tolerate the periodic meltdown, as long as it keeps the lights on. And, yes, it’s unmistakable to the trained eye when he posts a quid pro quo tweet.
It’s part of the deal he’s done to build what he’s built — the ultimate megaphone for letting the world know who’s getting signed, cut, traded, hired, fired, whatever five minutes before it’s formally announced. He remains constantly plugged into the matrix, and his own internal dopamine drip is tied to getting another scoop, another scoop, another scoop.
Of course, it’s balanced by the torment that comes from not being first. And, frankly, not getting to the finish line before anyone else clearly bothers him more than the possibility of stepping in shit along the way.
Which almost bothers him as much as being photographed.