Speaking of Craig James, here goes a big mistake. I'm going to invade Richie's territory and offer an opinion on a sports story. I was actually prohibited from writing about sports once when I was a daily newspaper reporter because of my appalling lack of knowledge. Maybe I'm about to get banned again. But.
The Dallas Morning News today offers us an editorial on the Mike Leach-Texas Tech story presenting two sides of the controversy as if both are equally plausible. One is that Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, recently fired for mistreatment of an injured player, is a dumb son of a bitch who got what he deserved. The other side is that the injured player, Adam James, Son of Craig, is the "spoiled-brat son of a famous dad" who got what he deserved.
Here's my problem. Leach's behavior has been very public and easy for media to report -- threatening to sue the university, issuing statements, being spoken for by an abrasive lawyer. But the kid's role has been far less flamboyant. The basis for the spoiled-brat story, as far as I can tell, is a bunch of e-mails allegedly from fellow players published by CBS sports.
As I have watched this story unfold, I have drifted irresistibly toward memories of the old days, back when news media could still afford to report the news. I remember the drill.
At the Dallas Times Herald, a newspaper which no longer exists, this would have been Story Number One for our editor, Will Jarrett. He would have dispatched at least four reporters to Lubbock to knock on doors, work the bars, infiltrate locker rooms and do whatever else it took to get the story on Adam James. Spoiled brat or not?
After all, the only people really pushing that story, when you peel away the bullshit, are Leach and his lawyer. I am not saying it's not true, and here is where my appalling lack of sports knowledge may be biting me. Maybe everybody in sports fandom knows it's true.
But I doubt that. If that were the case -- if it were that easy to get -- then that story would be all over the sports sections and maybe the front pages: "WHAT A BRAT!!! Thousands dish on James, call him biggest spoiled brat in world history."
It's not there. I don't see that story anywhere. I know daily newspapers can't really afford to be daily newspapers any more. But here's how you handle that problem: You don't keep repeating the brat story as if it had been reported and you know it to be fact, as in today's editorial in The News.
Look. The News's sports reporters have done better on this deal than The New York Times's sports reporters. This weekend we had the story of the dueling affidavits from a trainer and doctor: What did they say and when did they say it about Leach and his treatment of James?
There was a complicated question about dates on the affidavits. The News sorted it out. The Times had the kind of mashed up mush-ball story that used to make editors' blood boil, back when editors had blood.
But here is the larger question, and it really gets me. The Times also had an editorial over the weekend on football concussions, with no mention of the Texas Tech story.
I keep wondering why I don't see the big take-out piece somewhere -- maybe somebody's working on it now -- dealing with concussions, the culture of football, and, by the way, what's wrong with locking concussion victims in equipment closets? Oh, and you could throw in there: Is Adam James an OK kid or not? Oh, and by the way again, he is a kid. Right? Is it really right to treat him like he's Mayumi Heene, just because he plays football? Forget I asked that. What do I know? It probably is right.
I just think it would be nice to actually have some idea what we're talking about, and then later we can do all the editorials. But that's old school, I know. I am an old guy who doesn't know football. Shoot me.
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