As Andrew Whitworth makes the transition from football player to member of football media, he’s gotten a quick lesson in the impact that his words can have. And he’s currently trying to put some of those words back in the tube.
In a sideline interview during Thursday night’s 49ers-Texans game on Amazon Prime Video, Whitworth was asked whether his “phone [has] been ringing.”
“It has,” Whitworth said, in the clip posted by Blogging The Boys on Twitter. “I mean, obviously, there’s been some things with the Cowboys and losing Tyron Smith. It’s just an awful deal. Such a great player, and a guy I’ve always loved watching play. It’s been a busy day of answering calls. The problem is they’re calling and texting the wrong person. They need to be texting and calling Melissa Whitworth and the kids, because they have final approval on whether I’m ever going to play football again.”
Whitworth never said who called him, or who didn’t call him. His words, as spoken and transcribed, reasonably were characterized as reflecting that he has been called by the Cowboys.
Whitworth took to Twitter to deny that he had heard directly from the Cowboys.
“Not what I said,” Whitworth said. “I said I answered calls and text from people all day since the injury. Begging me to go to the cowboys!”
But that’s definitely not what he said. He was asked if his phone has been busy. He said, “It has.” He specifically mentioned the Cowboys and Tyron Smith. He said “they’re calling and texting the wrong person,” and that they need to be talking to his wife and his kids.
When people hear that, they’re going to think “they” means the Cowboys. And if the Cowboys didn’t call, Whitworth shouldn’t have allowed his words to create the impression that they did.
Something very similar happened during the pregame show. As Michael Smith finished an assessment of the impact of the Tyron Smith injury, he threw it back to the desk saying this: “But on behalf of everybody here at Prime Video, Jerry Jones, if you’re listening, don’t even think about calling our man Andrew Whitworth. He’s off limits.”
Charissa Thompson then asked Whitworth, “How many texts have you gotten today?”
“My phone has been busy,” Whitworth said, “I’ll say that. It’s been [a] busy day.”
“There’s always a number,” Thompson added.
“There’s a Melissa Whitworth number,” Whitworth said. “And that’s the problem they have.”
So who’s the “they” in that exchange, especially given the way the conversation was teed up by Michael Smith? Is “they” a group of random fans who happen to have Whitworth’s number who are begging him to play for the Cowboys? Or is “they” the Cowboys themselves?
At a minimum, Whitworth was cheekily trying to create the impression that the Cowboys have been calling him when, in reality, they haven’t been. At worst, the Cowboys were calling him — and also were committing a blatant tampering violation.
That’s the best reason for Whitworth to now claim that he wasn’t being called by anyone from the Cowboys. Because he’s on the Rams’ reserve-retired list, he’s off limits to any other team, absent express permission form the Rams. And given that the NFL smacked the Dolphins and owner Stephen Ross three weeks ago or rampant tampering with Tom Brady and then pointedly reminded all teams two weeks ago to knock off the tampering, it wouldn’t be good for the Cowboys to be caught with both hands in the Andrew Whitworth cookie jar.
Either way, Whitworth said what he said. And what’s posted above is exactly what he said. Most reasonable football fans would interpret those comments as meaning that the calls weren’t coming from friends or family members who were connecting dots but from specific persons who would like to connect Whitworth to the left side of the team’s offensive line.