Cowboys’ tweet underscores the hazards of team-owned media

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Roughly 20 years ago, sports teams and leagues decided to create their own media outlets, charging employees of the teams and leagues with the task of covering the entities that pay them. Usually, problems arise from team- and league-owned media being relentlessly positive and/or oblivious to the negative.

Recently, the in-house media outlet covering one of the league’s most popular teams made waves for doing the exact opposite.

This tweet has made a major stir since it was posted by the Cowboys’ official account on Sunday night: “Dak Prescott gave away the ball twice in the narrow loss to the 49ers, in a matchup the Cowboys had a chance to win if they didn’t again generate self-inflicted wounds.”

It’s one thing for someone who doesn’t work for the Cowboys to criticize their players, coaches, etc. It’s quite another for a colleague, a coworker, a writer whose paycheck is signed by Jerry Jones to turn the flamethrower against Dak Prescott or anyone else involved in the on-field sausage-making process.

While it demonstrates that captive media can be objective, it raises the question of whether captive media should be. By now, consumers know (or should kn0w) that, when they dial up NFL Network or NFL.com, they’re getting their news and analysis through Shield-colored glasses. Ditto for team-owned media. If you go to any team’s website, you’re getting stuff that is ultimately aimed at advancing the interests of that team.

For the Cowboys, making money apparently trumps keeping players and coaches from getting blasted by voices that are supposed to be friendly. If/when the team-owned media calls a guy out, it’s basically the same thing as the team calling him out.

Although the Cowboys could claim that the team gives its writers autonomy, even that has guardrails. (For example, you won’t find any stories on DallasCowboys.com about last year’s quickly squelched voyeurism scandal, or regarding the pending paternity lawsuit against Jones himself.) Even if the team says it doesn’t tell writers what to write and/or not write, the reality is that they’re implicitly allowing key players like Prescott to be blamed by platforms the team owns.

Again, the Cowboys can take the position that it’s not personal. That they want good and bad coverage in order to maximize the audience. And that’s fine. But they’d better be sure that Prescott, other players, and the team’s coaches are OK with the possibility that the employees of the team’s media properties will ignore camaraderie and collegiality and crap all over them.

38 responses to “Cowboys’ tweet underscores the hazards of team-owned media

  1. Didn’t see this in the Dallas media coverage. Not sure it’s a thing, since Dak is the first to blame himself, and since it’s a fully true statement. Dak cost the entire organization a full year of work by making dumb mistakes. Pretty simple.

  2. Let’s explore this notion further. Disney (ABC, ESPN), CBS, NBC, Amazon are all tied into the NFL as broadcast partners. They are not independent media. They are paying the NFL to broadcast games and are directly tied in to the NFL. As a consumer I cannot trust the NFL and team-owned media nor can I trust its broadcast partners who are just shills for football. It sickens me that networks label reporters as NFL insiders because that is exactly what they are. They are spoonfed information at the beck and call of the NFL to get their point of view across and nothing else. Just look at the Washington emails and how that was reported and handled. The NFL is nothing more than a money grabbing corporation that wants to control everything in its path.

  3. Dak crapped all over the Cowboys title aspirations by throwing the ball to the wrong team twice (or 3 or 4 times depending how you’re counting)… so… He can live with a little social media jab.

  4. I find it refreshing. Cowboys got this one right for once. I hate that fluff from the team websites, which is why I would never look at them. I mean the truth is the truth. Dak Prescott makes $40 mil plus a year. He can take it.

  5. Yeah. That was too candid all things considered. I hope the writer’s resume is ready to go.

  6. As a boys fan… and generally an advocate for Dak, you can’t fault the headline.

    Those two turnovers stood as the most obvious margin between two teams in an absolute dogfight (no to mention the misfire to Gallup that should have been six).

    (That plus Shanny out-coaching Big Mac – but that was a given)

  7. I never seen that type of post on any sporting team’s official website. Jerry Jones must be behind it, for sure.

  8. I like the writers on staff at Dallas Cowboys.com. I think they do a fine job and provide thorough coverage. Dak did throw two INTs and there is no way to sugarcoat that. I see nothing wrong with the fact that staff writers mildly pointed it out. Stating the obvious gives them more respect in my eyes.

  9. “Dak Prescott gave away the ball twice in the narrow loss to the 49ers, in a matchup the Cowboys had a chance to win if they didn’t again generate self-inflicted wounds.”
    That’s just stating the obvious

  10. Will poor Dak get his feelings hurt? What…from the truth. He is the reason why they lost

  11. Media telling the truth is a bad thing?
    If Prescott doesn’t want to be ‘flame-throwned,’ perhaps he should stop throwing godawful interceptions.

  12. Maybe Jones dindnt give the ok but rather the person who wrote the article and the supervisor who ok’d it had enough of mediocrity and want to be fired for said article. Na this has Jones written all over it. He’s having buyers remorse

  13. Sure sounds like someone in the building is frustrated with Mr. Prescott. No guarantee this comes from the top… but no guarantee it doesn’t, either.

  14. I wouldn’t expect the team’s official media to highlight stories that make the team look bad, like off-field scandals, but I do expect them to admit the obvious. You don’t have to gratuitously rip somebody but you should point out when the team or a player doesn’t play well or what credibility do you have?

  15. The way the tweet was written, sounds like they are a Cowboys fan. A disappointed Cowboys fan.

  16. What good is a media outlet (internal or external) if it isn’t objective? There was no personal attack here, only a statement of observation. As noted, Dak himself made the same observation.

  17. This is a problem with all media. It would be nice if everything was just transparent and honest instead of having some agenda. There’s nothing wrong with what the teams media said. It’s factually correct. More media needs more to be this way.

  18. Sorry, Dak is a nice 4th round story but not a big game QB. He has lost as many divisional playoff games as Romo …

  19. The didnt say anything wrong Facts are facts. The tweet was 100% correct and if Dakota has hurt feelings too bad. Dont throw away the game like you did and then we wont tweet about it.

  20. Jerrr won’t wait ’til the 4th rd. to sneak in a QB in this draft. The 2nd Rd. will due , The 1st RD. ? , Why, a running back , of course . In Frisco ‘STAR POWER’ is what counts.

  21. Lol! Dak accepted the blame this time. No refs to blame now as they didn’t have a chance for ref to spot the ball with that ridiculous last play.
    niners D confounded dak the whole game.
    Someone also said Shanahan generally out coached McCarthy.
    If Jones had a chance he’d hire shanahan in a heartbeat

  22. The real truth is Dakota is only good for padding regular season stats against bad teams. Notice he can’t beat good ones when it counts?

  23. I mean facts are facts no matter whose feelings it hurts. Dak was 3 out of the top 5 reasons the Boys lost to the 49ers. This is just being real.

  24. Nearly all sports media aspire to achieve the status of Star Magazine and National Enquirer status; gossip, not fact, is the trade of sports media. The truly remarkable item in this report is that a Texas-owned medium allowed a truth to reach the public.

  25. Dak can look like a world-beater in one game, and then like absolute crap in the next. That’s his biggest issue…he is inconsistent. You can’t keep throwing picks. Whoever pointed the finger at him for this loss is correct. For the money he is being paid, he should be able to take it. He’s probably over it already, somewhere with his toes in the sand.

  26. I luv it when Dallas implodes. Thing is let’s be fair, a lot of other teams imploded too like the vikes. It’s fooooootball

  27. As a cowboys fan this is the norm. All media is independent and can speak their mind. If factual and not just mean or trolling.

    I respect this and the Jones have been very supportive of this. In fact, they have 4hrs of live casts every day No other team does 1/2 the quality content they do.

    On the shows, they have called for Garret to be fired for the last 3 years of his tenure. Talked about firing the OL coach last year. Almost most weekly called the Cooper trade a bad deal and dumb mistake. Right now the talk is about dumping Kellen as OC and how soon can you get out of Dak’s contract (after next year) all live today!

  28. 2 INTs, yes – but one of those was because the WR stopped his route. Don’t pin that on the QB. These kinds of lazy takes vastly oversimplify the entire game. How about the bad defensive holding penalties that kept 49ers drives alive? How about losing Pollard to injury? How about the bad game management from the coaching staff?

    It’s a team game, they win as a team and lose as a team. Also, SF has maybe the best defense in the NFL.

    I’m not a Cowboys fan or a Dak fan, I just think it’s stupid when people pin everything on one player.

  29. Prescott/Tannehill/maybe Geno after this year all feel like similar QBs – great value and great QBs when they’re on a <$5m contract, but when it's time to pay them $40m, you're left wanting lots more

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