Sports journalism is a very hard job and that is why so many reporters harbor the barely repressed fantasy of joining the Cirque De Soleil. I don't think I'm revealing any trade secrets here: if you have yet to see the Philadelphia Inquirer's Phil Sheridan emerging from a fashionable downtown department outlet carrying with him a publicly questionable amount of spandex and white face paint than you simply haven't been looking that hard. And that's understandable. Why search for such a thing when it can only bring you despair?
Yes, all of this is a grim challenge and should not be undertaken by anyone except for those possessing the most significant fortitude and moral bearing. Never was this fact made more evident than during the past week when it was widely reported that star NFL receiver Terrell Owens had attempted suicide, only to have it subsequently revealed that he was only a little tired. Or something. How to account for such a discrepancy? It's very hard to know at this point, several hundred wine coolers after the fact. But suffice it to say, if you felt mislead in any way, it was not our fault. A lot of factors unrelated to sports reporters, their sources or their news outlets were the real culprit here. I would happily name them for you now, except that it would put my entire livelihood at risk. Instead allow me to provide you the following public service. Here are some sports stories that are almost surely bound to be mishandled, misinterpreted and otherwise miserably botched in the coming year. Now consider yourself forewarned, and let us never speak of it again.
Report: “Magical” Favre Throws Three Touchdowns, Seven Interceptions In 59-24 Loss To The Patriots
Story: Turning the clock back for one night, legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre delighted the hometown faithful on Sunday afternoon, conjuring a vintage performance in the twilight of his career. In a stirring display, Favre used his trademark laser arm to complete 50 of his 83 throws, with only seven of those going to the opposing team. Midway through the third quarter the fabled Mississippi gunslinger dropped back to pass and with characteristic reckless insouciance, deliberately fumbled the ball and began engaging in a line dance with the surprised and delighted Patriots linebacker Teddy Bruschi. The crowd roared their appreciation for Favre's zany antics as New England safety Rodney Harrison picked up the loose ball and ran it eighty yards in the opposite direction for a Patriots touchdown. “His love for the sport is infectious! He plays the game like a kid!” marveled color commentator Dan Dierdorf, as the Packers (2-7) fell behind by five touchdowns. Late in the 4th quarter, after Favre threw his third touchdown pass to cut the Patriot's lead to 25 an astonished crowd watched as the Greek God Poseiden himself descended from the Heavens and carried Favre back to Olympus in a platinum chariot, where he will spend the remainder of eternity as an immortal deity, pending his decision to remain retired following this season.
Retraction: In actuality Favre did not, as previously reported, ascend to Olympus following his third touchdown pass. Instead, it was later discovered, he had proceeded to the training room to luxuriate in front of a full-length mirror and calculate his updated career statistics in uninterrupted privacy.
Reported: Pedro Martinez Tears Rotator Cuff While Laughing Explosively At Patch Adams
Story: The ongoing enigma of Mets right-handed pitching ace Pedro Martinez's re-injured rotator cuff became a bit less mysterious yesterday as an anonymous source close to the team revealed that the injury had occurred during an uproarious fit of laughter while watching a DVD of the 1998 Robin Williams dramedy PatchAdams. “Pedro literally could not control himself while watching this picture,” the source explained, “It was like a protracted seizure. At one point I called the team trainer in as a precaution, but Pedro waved him away and then demanded his assistant bring a red clown's nose for every member of the pitching staff. Shortly thereafter he fell off his chair and landed awkwardly on his shoulder.” The source goes on to explain that the injury was exacerbated after Martinez demanded to warm up in the bullpen sporting the preposterously oversized sized shoes favored by Williams in the movie as his character tries without success to heal his patients through humor. “Pedro had no leg drive whatsoever in those things,” the witness continues. “He was obviously in tremendous pain, but always has to get the biggest laughs on the team, which he feels he is owed as a future Hall Of Famer.”
Retraction: Subsequent reporting found much of the above to be factually untrue. Martinez, as it turns out, harbors a profound reservoir of disdain for the comedian Robin Williams, who he considers to be “funny as a hernia.” The “unnamed source” turned out to be Williams himself, who is promoting his new movie Jumanji 4: The Ostriches. The editors apologize for any confusion this may have caused and recommend boycotting both Martinez and Williams on grounds of massive incompetence.
Report: Davis Love III Slaughtered By Cougars At The Tournament Players Championship
Story: Davis Love III, 39th on the PGA tour list of money leaders, was tragically devoured by a roving pride of wildcats during the final round of the Tournament Players Championship on Sunday. Love III, who had been trailing the leaders by only three strokes while making the turn at Sawgrass in Ponte Verde, Florida, had just struck a six iron within twelve feet of the pin on the 10th hole when the savage and inexplicable attack began. The cougars, with their sights apparently trained specifically on Love III, rushed past both his playing partner Rocco Mediate and Love III's caddy and immediately commenced rending the golfer's flesh with a terrifying demonstration of carnivorous cruelty. Love III, who died in the attack and thus was not able to finish his round, was by rule issued an automatic disqualification and received no prize money.
Retraction: Davis Love III was NOT actually slaughtered by cougars at the Tournament Players Championship. Although it is true that certain populations of this large cat are indigenous to Florida and have been spotted in the wild near the panhandle region, none has ever murdered a professional golfer while in action at a PGA Tournament. Love III, who shot a 53 on the final nine yesterday, finished 29 strokes back and was disqualified for refusing to sign his scorecard.
As one can plainly see, there is really no such thing as a definitive standard for reality. Truth is a fluid and evolving concept, and we in the media can really only report what we think we saw happen, or at least heard about secondhand in the snack tent. Journalists cannot be held accountable for the misreporting of certain stories with rapidly shifting narrative dimensions, at least not before noon. Still, rest assured: the vigilance of those in our profession is eternal, and if we fail to get the story right the first time, then we'll definitely make up something even better for the late edition. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm completely starving.