The way the "mainstream" media, and by extension the blogosphere, covered the shooting incident in Philadelphia that involved Marvin Harrison was disgraceful. We all know that. If it wasn't employees of WIP radio in Philly making allegations that Harrison was the target of a mob hit, it was ESPN's Sal Paolantonio berating Harrison for having the gall to maintain relations in the neighborhood he grew up in. Classless and unprofessional are the only ways one can describe the level of journalism displayed by media who covered this. Fanning the flames on the blogosphere was Mike Florio, the National Inquirer of the Internet. But as bad as all those scmhucks were, my favorite line came from this week's media idiot, Peter King:
Marvin Harrison is in more trouble than his agent, or even he, thinks.
Four months later, there is still no charge filed against Harrison; no arrest; no conviction; no nothing. Harrison is not even a suspect. Peter King is truly a man in the know.
Marvin is mad, and he is going to take his anger out on opposing defenses (and Mike Chappell).
Photo via bleacherreport.com
The whole incident was sad, really. Sad for the media and how they cover our athletes. It revealed what many of us already knew: That many corprate-fed media outlets are less about reporting facts and more about digging for dirt. Here was Marvin Harrison; a genuine, no-question-about-it, first ballot Hall of Fame wide receiver; a guy who really symbolized everything that the sport and position should be. He was quiet, loved by teammates, respected by peers, feared by opponents, cheered by fans, and making his stamp on some pretty serious NFL record books.
Yet, one incident occurs where a man (a known criminal) is thrown out of a bar Harrison owns in his old Philly neighborhood after causing a disturbance. The man continues the fight outside, and is shot in the hand. Police arrest the man, charge him, and then find out that the gun used to shoot him may have been owned by Marvin Harrison.
Instead of simply reporting this story, the media jumped on it like jackals, all but saying Harrison shot the guy even though no evidence suggested such a thing. And everyone, from WIP Radio to Paolantonio to Florio, wanted a piece of this story. They wanted to find the hidden dirt, and if there wasn't any, they'd just make it up. It's not about reporting facts and getting to the heart of the story. It's about finding the "GOTCHA!" in the story. It's pathetic, I know. But this is what corporate-fed media looks like when they cover your team. And in terms of Florio, this is "blogging" at its absolute worst.
So, all that said, recently Marvin sat down with the Indy Star's Mike Chappell, and it doesn't take much to see that Marvin is not happy at all with what people have written about him. I can't say I blame him:
Speaking to the local media for the first time since the Colts' Jan. 13 divisional playoff loss to San Diego -- and speaking only to The Star -- Harrison made it clear from the outset there wasn't much he cared to share.
A Colts official ended the interview when Harrison was asked about an April 29 shooting in his hometown of Philadelphia that involved a gun he owned.
I don't know why Chappell decided to run with this report. He basically reports that Harrison wouldn't talk to him about stuff Chappell wanted to talk about, as if Harrison were somehow "obligated" to chat about personal things with Chappell, or anyone else.
He offered no opinion on whether he is back to where he was before an injury to his left knee forced him to miss 11 games last season.
"I mean, have you been in Terre Haute watching practice?" Harrison said. "You can write what you see. That's the best way I can tell you."
Informed that Colts fans might prefer to hear Harrison's assessment, he said, "You all seem to know more about it . . . you all write what you see. That way I won't have a comment."
Harrison indicated he has been upset with some of what has been written about him. It was mentioned he has had some engaging discussions with the media during previous training camps.
"Oh, yes, we have," Harrison said. "Then sometimes you walk out with that knife in your back sometimes.
I find it a bit funny that Chappell feels entitled to tell Marvin what Colts fans might prefer. Chappell's a good beat writer, but he's not plugged in to what Colts fans want.
I can understand Marvin's frustration. The sad reality is the corporate-fed media that pumps up idiots like Sal Paolantonio is as much about ego as major athletes like Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson are. That's why ESPN loves covering them. Perhaps ego maniacal athletes like Owens and Pacman Jones simply hold up a mirror and reflect back the same me-first, egocentric slime that oozes from places like Bristol. Based on his questions, what people like Chappell fail to grasp is that we fans have SEEN that Marvin is fine. Many of us have been to camp, watched him practice, and reported on blogs like this that everything looks good. We've seen him look good in pre-season games. We don't need him to tell us he's ok. WE SEE IT. We also don't care about the Philly incident because Marvin was never a suspect in the first place.
Why should fans care if the police don't think he did anything wrong?
Unlike the three guys pictured with him,
Marvin is great AND not a douche.
Photo via www.sportspickle.com
Obviously, not all media screwed this up. The local Philly papers seemed to do a good job reporting what happened, and they had some good reporters (in particular, Philly Daily Nws reporter David Gambacorta) who did not fall into the trap of "GOTCHA!" journalism. Paolantonio could take lessons. And even Deadspin's new editor issued a sort-of apology for how they covered the Harrison incident. The one potential joy I will get from 2008 is Marvin will do what Marvin has always done: Let his play do the talking. I've watched him practice and I can tell you he looks great. Teammates like Dom Rhodes and Jeff Saturday say Marvin is angry, and looking to have an amazing season.
The real question then will be will the traditional hack media sources like ESPN and the Indy Star actually report his season, or will they ignore him in favor of more "entertaining" athletes.