Mike Florio makes up facts about Harrison incident, gets caught

PFT's Mike Florio is now presenting rumor as fact over at the Sporting News. His most recent article for the Sporting News, detailing the facts of the incident involving Marvin Harrison outside a bar, is riff with multiple errors that anyone really following the true facts of the investigation should know.

Again, to put it bluntly, Florio is writing rumor and conveying it as fact, only this time he's not doing it for his own blog. He's doing it for the Sporting News:

Harrison reportedly claimed the gun involved in the shooting never left his home but yet on the same day it turned up in a bucket at his car wash. If the reports are true, police detectives surely view everything Harrison now says with a strong dose of skepticism.

This statement is completely and utterly false, based on reports from the police and from the Philadelphia Daily News:

On Wednesday, detectives visited Harrison's garage and detail shop, which he purchased in 2006 for $200,000, according to tax records.

Sources said that Harrison had a Belgian firearm, an FN5.7, in his garage. Harrison handed the high-powered weapon - which fires armor-piercing rounds - over to investigators.

He then spent about four hours at Central Detectives, accompanied by his attorney, Jerome Brown.

Now, that's pretty significant fact, one that Mr. Florio seems to have missed as he continues to scurry for more insider "dirt" on the Harrison case. To say that police essentially "stumbled upon" the weapon is very different from the fact that Harrison turned it over.

The other error here is invoking the NFL's  The Personal Conduct Policy. Florio states that if Harrison fired the gun or if someone else fired his gun, he is elligible for discipline under the policy:

The commission of a violent crime clearly is grounds for discipline, as is conduct that imposes "inherent risk" to the safety and well-being of another person. Shooting a man in the hand and sending five other bullets whizzing past him presumably would be enough to meet such a standard. Entrusting a gun to someone else who does the same thing could be a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy as well.

Not true, especially if self defense is the motive for firing the gun. If Roger Goodell wants ot try and suspend a player for defending himself against someone who, two weeks prior, was kicked out of the same bar for bad behavior, he better get ready for a suit from the Player's Union. This is especially true if Harrison didn't fire the gun. Suspending him for an act he did not even do makes absolutely no sense. Firing a gun in self defense is not illegal, and since Marvin Harrison has nothing on his record that indicates he is the kind of man who runs wildly into the street shooting at people, this explanation is reasonable.

This is likely why the NFL is being responsible and not saying anything until the facts of the case are revealed by the actual police detectives investigating the case, not the "Harvey the Rabbit sources" we readers keep hearing about. It's a shame writers like Mr. Florio are not as responsible.

The other thing that Mr. Florio likes to do (and for those who believe in due process and things like that, this should scare you) is jump to rash judgments before someone is even arrested or charged with a crime, let alone actually convicted:

Firing shots at someone else in public, complete with flying glass from one of the bullets striking and cutting a child, falls somewhere between 9 and 10 on the scale of the worst possible things an NFL player can do. Such behavior arguably is far worse than anything Jones, Vick, Chris Henry or Tank Johnson has done.

That said, it's unlikely that Goodell will act against Harrison before criminal charges (if any) against him are resolved. And given that Harrison reportedly still is having trouble with his knees, there is a chance he'll retire before he could be suspended.

Let's be clear about the facts here, because Mike Florio can't seem to get them straight (and for someone who is a lawyer in his day job, as Mr. Florio is, I express extreme concern for the clients he represents):

1) Marvin Harrison has not been charged with a crime. In fact, the police themselves have said he isn't even a suspect. So, writing an article which, essentially, states that Harrison is guilty, will go to jail, and will get suspended by Commissioner Goodell makes absolutely no sense.

2) Michael Vick and Tank Johnson were charged and pleaded guilty to their crimes. Vick, in particular, was suspended from the NFL for lying point blanc to Goodell's face. Pacman Jones has been involved in multiple off-the-field incidents that resulted in charges filed. Marvin Harrison hasn't been charged with anything and has cooperated fully with authorities who have questioned him. So, lumping him in with players like these is inappropriate and wrong at this point.

3) We don't know all the facts of the case because the police haven't officially released them. We've heard a lot of hearsay and rumor, much of which peddled by Mr. Florio. The fact that the injured party is not even willing to identify Marvin Harrison as the shooter speaks volumes as to how fragile this case is.

Could Marvin Harrison get charged? It's possible. It's also possible that Mike Florio will get fired from The Sporting News for botching up a pretty significant fact in an article presenting itself as providing facts on the incident. Does that mean it is appropriate for someone like me to start floating articles out there that Florio is getting the ax at TSN? No, of course not. Just as it is inappropriate for Florio to suggest Harrison will see jail time and suspension even though he isn't a suspect in the case (let alone charged or convicted).

He can do that over at PFT, but at the Sporting News I expect a different standard, and I hope their editors do to. Even people in Florio's comments area for the TSN article are killing him for his gaff:

Harrison voluntarily gave the gun to police. This was according to named police sources; more reliable than Johnny Anonymous' claims as reported by Angelo on WIP.

To recap, the Johnny Anonymous claimed:

-the shooting was outside the bar - wrong
-a two year old girl had glass in her eye - wrong
-Harrison hid the gun - wrong, wrong, wrong
-multiple witnesses were fingering Harrison as the shooter - wrong so far

Again, it is entirely possible that Marvin Harrison fired a gun at a man. But, since it is not proven (let alone charged as a crime), this kind of speculation is plain and simple bad journalism. And since Florio is writing this under The Sporting News' banner, he must be held accountable for this.

He can act like a "hack" all he wants at PFT. At the Sporting News, I expect some integrity and professionalism. I think their loyal readers do as well, and this type of "journalism" does not seem in line with those expectations.

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