The Indianapolis Star's Bob Kravitz and ESPN's Paul Kuharsky are angry that the Colts players are holding secretive, 'hush-hush' workouts at undisclosed locations during this lengthy lockout imposed by the owners. Kravitz goes so far as to call the players' choice to work in secrecy:
He goes on to justify his indictment of the secrecy by saying:
If I'm a member of the NFL Players Association, I want to promote the fact that my guys want to play football and are willing to work out -- even without injury insurance -- in order to prepare for the season. You want the fans' hearts and minds? Make these workouts accessible, to the fans or at least to the media, so we can see the players' level of commitment despite the lockout.
If the Organization Formerly Known As The NFLPA was smart, it would insist that players open their informal workouts. This is a time to be building bridges to the fans, not blowing them up.
Kuharsky agrees with Kravitz, saying that those who are saying Kravitz is 'whining' are contradictory.
I know fans generally do not care about media access. But there is a built-in contradiction there, because I also know they do care about what Manning is doing and saying.
Don’t you think the media has respected your privacy in a way that deserves you throw it a bone a bit more often in exchange?
I deal with this contradiction every day. As a fan, and as a member of the media, my ultimate goal is I want to see the team win a Super Bowl. I am also one who believes in transparency. If someone is hiding something, my instincts tell me they are doing so for nefarious reasons. I also believe in the sharing of information. Information makes for a more informed, objective fanbase.
I can understand not wanting to show off new plays, new schemes, and new formations. All that makes sense. But what harm is there in seeing Peyton Manning tossing some footballs to Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon, and Dallas Clark?
The simple answer is none. There is no harm, and anyone suggesting 'harm' is someone senselessly trumpeting the Colts front office talking points.
I personally don't consider Bob's article to be 'whining.' Maybe the tone of the piece is a bit whiny, but it's perfectly acceptable to ask, Why all the secrecy? The question takes on more significance when Colts players, like Peyton Manning, are over-reacting to some media coverage that, quite honestly, has nothing to do with them. As Kravitz cites:
It got so ridiculous that last week, reporters from WTHR-13 went to St. Vincent Sports Performance, where several players are doing off-field workouts, to shoot a story on New England receiver Deion Branch. (Apparently, Manning can't force opposing players to abide by the gag order.) After filming, [Dallas] Clark and [Justin] Snow complained to the St. Vincent folks how they didn't want a shooter in their midst during a workout.
This is also on the heals of Peyton and Ashley Manning being so ridiculous and silly about the media announcing the birth of their twins last month as to request that the Indianapolis Star not run the story.
Come on. Seriously?
I'm all for respecting a person's general privacy. I don't need to know what Peyton had for breakfast today, or if he and Ashely are having martial problems. But, when the most famous quarterback in the history of forever becomes the father of twins, that's news and it is the responsibility of respected news people to report it.
If Peyton doesn't like it, sorry, but instead of being a world famous quarterback worth hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe Peyton should have gone into fast food management, or waste disposal, or something else that's seemingly mundane that doesn't come with a lot of public attention.
In the end, privacy is Peyton's modus operandi. Peyton is a creature of routine, and anything that mildly breaks that routine pisses him right the hell off. Right now, this lockout is pissing him off. No OTAs. No mini-camps. No nothing. It's this time of year where Peyton gets his edge. No one works harder in May and June than Peyton. No one. And this lack of real organized team activities is likely driving him crazy.
Also, as Kuharsky accurately hits on:
I think, honestly, Manning’s secret ops are more habit and routine than anything. He works under Bill Polian who takes a similar tact on many things. And he’s entrenched enough in the way things unfold that if he feels it works for him, why change them?
As you all know, this 'secrecy' is a double-edged sword. It's great for when the team is winning, but it turns off fans who feel that they don't get enough coverage of the Colts. As Gregg Rosenthal of PFT stated:
The fans do suffer — reporting on the Colts is consistently inferior to other small market NFL teams in quantity and quality of coverage.
It’s a media strategy the organization is obviously comfortable with, and one that won’t change until the team starts losing again.
Again, I see fans make contradictory statements on this blog all the time when it comes to privacy v. insider information. One minute, people are screaming 'LEAVE PEYTON ALONE!' and the next they are complaining that no one knows if Peyton is doing workouts with players. Is Dallas Clark healthy? Will Anthony Gonzalez return? Who are the Colts interested in pre-Draft?
All of these things are very secretive, and the Colts would prefer that no one know anything about them. Some fans agree with this, saying people should just shut up and cheer when they win. The irony is these same people are saying this on a blog whose sole purpose for existing is talking about events and information that the Colts themselves prefer no one discuss.
As I have often droned on and on about, the Colts treatment of media and fans is pretty abysmal. Coverage of the team very inferior, especially when you look at smaller markets (like Green Bay) and how the team and media interact. I used to blame all this on local media (like the Star), but being on the other of things has opened my eyes on this issue. The fault on the lack of quality coverage falls squarely on the Colts. They want it this way, and all it does is shortchange fans like me.