(Update 6:00 PM ET – Phil Savage has acknowledged that the rumored email exchange occurred.)
Before I even begin explaining this story, let me just say right now, with my credibility on the line I suppose, that I absolutely do not believe the following rumor.
I was not going to post anything about it, so as not to further the rumor, but I know how these stories spread like wildfire across the web; and with dissing Phil Savage being a popular pasttime for many football writers and bloggers (even those on this site), I figured a voice of dissension could add some value to the conversation.
On now with the rumor.
Rumors began circulating on the Internet today that Phil Savage sent a terse and profane email response to a frustrated fan who had emailed him. Per Deadspin.com, who originally broke this story, Phil Savage received the following email during Monday night’s Browns-Bills game:
You are easily the worst GM in the NFL. Chud, Crennel and Tucker should
NOT have jobs. How the hell do you play prevent defense the entire
game? How do you NOT use Jerome Harrison more? Why the hell would you
throw the ball with 6 minutes left? This is officially a regime that is
worse than Butch Davis’. By the way, just like last week – this email
was written while the Browns still had the lead.
And according to the Deadspin.com account of the story, Phil Savage responded with this:
Go root for Buffalo-f#@* you-
I only decided to post about this once I saw it picked up by ProFootballTalk.com and other major sports blogs in addition to Deadspin. And I don’t want to throw Deadspin.com under the bus or cast aspersions upon their credibility — but their post about the Phil Savage email certainly leaves me with more questions than it does answers.
I am assuming that Deadspin has some sort of journalistic criteria that they follow before posting an item. At least, I hope they do. This is the type of blog post that grow crazy legs and take on a life of its own pretty quickly; it’s the kind of thing that could make an owner wonder about the mindset and conduct of his General Manager.
I can’t say for certain one way or the other if this rumor is true. I have no knowledge either way. What I can say is that it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, for many reasons:
- People who know Phil Savage tell me that this is completely out of his character, that he does not talk or communicate that way. I’ve only met Phil Savage once and gleaned the rest of my impression of him from newspaper articles and radio appearances, but I have to say that an email like this flies in the face of every impression I’ve had of him.
- As of posting this, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer has no mention of this story on their website. I have to believe that if there was truth to it, that the Plain-Dealer would have had time to investigate it and report something. The Deadspin article came out around 5 or 6. That there is not even a mention on the Plain-Dealer website leads me to believe that there is not anything to the story. No chance that they just leave this hanging in the sports blogosphere if it’s really a story.
- More importantly, it just seems completely ludicrous to think that the General Manager of an NFL team would a) even respond to a rambling, negative fan email; and b) respond in such a way that is basically indefensible and would surely result in a fine, punishment, or even the loss of his job.
Forget any impression I have of Phil Savage. I met him once, have heard positive things from family members who have met him and from friends in the Browns organization, but I suppose he could curse like a sailor and be a totally nasty and miserable man behind closed doors. You never really know with public figures who we only know through their media persona.
But to send that kind of email?
I realize that many Browns fans have questioned some personnel decisions made by Phil Savage (while lauding some as well, to be fair); but I don’t think anyone has ever honestly considered Phil Savage to be legally insane or masochistic. To send an email like this would basically be akin to firing yourself, and would kill any chances of latching on as a GM elsewhere in the present or the future.
Without anything more to back this up than just a supposedly verbatim transcript of an email, we are supposed to believe that Phil Savage was this nuts? I don’t buy it.
If they had a screenshot of the email, I might be more likely to think it could be true. But how easy would it be to send an email saying “I said this to Phil Savage and look what he typed back!” And then type whatever you want. For a disgruntled Browns fan, a boored Steelers fan, or a drunk idiot looking to cause trouble, it wouldn’t be too difficult to do.
This just doesn’t smell right to me. It doesn’t make sense. If it’s true, this will be the biggest piece of drama yet for the Browns in a season of drama, and will no doubt make like pretty difficult for Savage and the team. But without more to go on, I’m going on record as saying that I don’t believe it. I’ve had the same questions for Phil Savage as any other Browns fan this season regarding his handling of the Kellen Winslow situation, the defensiveness of his radio appearance in the aftermath of the Kellen saga, the quarterback troubles, etc. So calling me a Phil Savage apologist, if you are so inclined, would not be accurate.
But I try to use common sense to decide what is right and what is BS. On the one hand, I am a daily visitor to Deadspin and I can’t believe that they would post something like this without being sure it was true. And on the other hand, I simply cannot believe, no matter how frustrated Phil Savage is, that he would do something this short-sighted, vulgar, and idiotic.
With the information I have now, I’m calling BS on this one. It will be interesting to see how it shakes out, but I’m not buying into this story without more proof than what we have right now.
(Update: The original Deadspin post has been updated, and now includes the following quote: “So until I can find out whether or not this is the real deal â€” which may be hard, let’s just keep this in the ‘might be a prank’ file.“ So not a confirmation, nor a retraction. ProFootballTalk has put out a couple of new stories about the Savage email this morning as well.)
(Side note: It is ironic that the original post about this story from Deadspin included a link to Midwest Sports Fans. For a new blog trying to make its name on the web, this is not small deal. I never thought I’d be refuting the story that our first Deadspin link came from, but here we are. Still love the site, I just can’t buy into this story without a little more than what’s there. Thanks for the link though…always sincerely appreciated.)