Yesterday, the big story in Cleveland was the possibility of a Jay Cutler for Brady Quinn and Shaun Rogers trade. I do not know this first-hand, but that is what people in Cleveland tell me. As many of you know, the genesis of this rumor was a website called BroncosFreaks.com, which originally “reported” that unnamed sources said such a deal could be in the works.
It turns out, the original source for the rumor was a complete a fabrication; and ironically, it was started by someone that calls himself (at least on one message board) “The Truth.”
If you want some background on the Cutler rumor, here you go:
- Unnamed sources are cited are BroncosFreaks.com
- We post about the presence of the rumor, stating “Nothing against the guys at BroncosFreaks; Iâ€™m sure they have reliable sources. But until our usual suspects of trusted sources reports something, I remain wary of this kind of blockbuster deal.”
- OBR posts about the presence of the rumor, stating “But this trade? Donâ€™t get too close. Brain. Kablooey. Bad.”
- ProFootballTalk chimes in about the rumor, stating “To be crystal clear, we are not reporting that a trade is or could be happening.”
- Many, many other blogs post about/discuss this rumor
And then all hell breaks loose from there. And I know this a) several of my Cleveland friends called to ask me about the rumor, and b) because the original post about the Jay Cutler trade rumors drew tons of traffic yesterday from Google searches, meaning people were hearing about this and looking for info. Traffic surges like the one experienced by that post yesterday usually happen when a radio or TV show mention something and then people hop on line to research.
Then later in the day yesterday, the rumor made its way to the Plain-Dealer, Yahoo Sports, apparently Colin Cowherd mentioned it, as did others, etc., etc.
And then late last night, I see traffic coming in from this site right here.
As usual, I follow the link because I am always interested in where our traffic comes from. If you go to that link, you see the person calling himself “The Truth” taking credit for starting the false Jay Cutler-to-the-Browns rumor, and then the ensuing back slapping from his lemmings in the forum.
I guess “The Truth” should be given some kind of backhanded credit for creating a lie that succeeded in getting a certain portion of the blogosphere and media worked up yesterday; but the actual truth is that all I have been able to find are people mentioning the existence of the rumor, and saying that it was highly unlikely.
Umm…that’s the truth.
- A. There was a rumor that the Browns and Broncos were in trade talks…the rumor just happened to be based on false information.
- B. The rumor had some big names in it, thus providing entertaining fodder for conversation on a slow weekday of sports news. That made discussion of it relevant, especially since no one that I can see reported the contents of the rumor as fact (although, please correct me if I am wrong on this) — just that there was a rumor out there.
So while I applaud “The Truth” for succeeding in his attempt to create a frenzy of activity about what was posted on BroncosFreaks.com, I think the primary thing that was accomplished is that no one will ever believe anything following the phrase “our sources” ever again on BroncosFreaks.com. So I hope your credibility was worth it.
The way I see it, we live in a 24-hour news cycle in which rumors come and go, but many times provide excellent prisms through which to view controversial or hot button topics. For instance, the Cutler rumor compelled Browns fans a chance to analyze their thoughts on:
- Do you really believe Brady Quinn is the QB of the future in Cleveland?
- Would you be behind a move to acquire Jay Cutler, who it has been reported for many days is on the trading block? (The Broncos came out and said yesterday that he is definitively not on the trading block anymore, however.)
- What should be done with Shaun Rogers? Ship him out if his relationship with Mangini is too strained? Or do whatever is necessary to placate him because he irreplaceable?
- And on and on…
Now that yesterday’s news cycle has passed, the Cutler-to-the-Browns rumor isn’t a story anymore. The only story today is that the rumor wasn’t actually a rumor to begin with. But for anyone who reported it for what it was — A RUMOR — I’m not sure it really warrants feeling bad about in any way, or thinking “The Truth” got the better of you. In both journalism and blogging you are only worth the extent of your credibility. Aanyone who reported the Jay Cutler-to-the-Browns story as a rumor, especially those who added conspicuous caveats that it was baseless other the line at BroncosFreaks.com, was simply reporting fact.
Take ProFootballTalk for instance. Their site is specifically geared towards being a repository for whatever NFL news and rumor is out there, and they have learned heard lessons in the past by reporting rumors as fact (e.g. the infamous Terry Bradshaw story). When they reported the Cutler story, they were very clear that it was a rumor and they were not saying it was true. Yet, somehow, “The Truth” and his band of sycophants have taken yesterday to be yet another example of why PFT is garbage.
Which is great, except for the fact that it completely misses the point.
PFT, and others, reported the truth yesterday: a rumor was, in fact, floating around. BroncosFreaks.com reported the lie: “We understand that the Browns have an attractive option in place…Our source tells us the players involved are: Brady Quinn and Shaun Rogers for Jay Cutler and the Broncos 3rd round draft pick.”
I only feel stupid for thinking that what was posted on BroncosFreaks.com potentially had even 1% validity. I’ve learned my lesson. Not that it will affect their traffic or blogging future in any way, but I won’t be reading them anymore or placing one ounce of credence in their reports that come from “sources.”
Anyone who hopped onto this story reporting rumor as fact was obviously wrong — just as wrong as “The Truth” and BroncosFreaks.com. Anyone who hopped onto the rumor and reported it for what it was, and then allowed it to serve as the starting point for compelling dialogue, well, I have a hard time calling those people to the mat. Sure, I’m one of them, but at least I don’t parade myself around as “The Truth” when the exact opposite is clearly the reality.
Well done “The Truth.” I hope you enjoyed the virtual hive fives from all of your forum buddies. You were successful in proving the irony of your name and in making everyone think twice in the future when BroncosFreaks.com posts information from an unnnamed and unlinked source. Other than that, I have to say that I rather enjoyed the speculation and worthwhile debate that proved to be the byproduct of your lie.Â These were good issues for Browns fans address in what is no doubt a pivotal offseason and upcoming 2009 campaign.
I’ll just know not to come to you, or BroncosFreaks.com, for anything other than lies and disinformation any longer.Â Thanks for the head’s up.