Well, it looks as if the defensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins might just have let the cat out of that bag.
Meet Rod Denny, who earlier this month was in Hampton Roads, Va., for his 16-year-old daughter's volleyball tournament. During a stay at a local hotel, Denny spotted [Redskins defensive coordinator Jim] Haslett during breakfast. As a lifelong Redskins fan, Denny couldn't let such an opportunity pass without at least saying hello.
The innocuous greeting eventually turned into a meeting of two football minds, during which Haslett apparently divulged the team's offseason philosophy. It just happens that Denny has his own fan blog devoted to the Redskins under the nom de plume of "Rodskins" and later wrote a fan post detailing his conversation with Haslett.
The "fan blog" referenced in the article is SB Nation's Hogs Haven. Exactly two weeks ago today, Mr. Denny wrote a FanPost on that site detailing the long conversation he had with Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. Lord only knows what Haslett was thinking, but he apparently told Denny some serious insider information on what the Redskins plan to do, and are already doing, to upgrade their quarterback position this offseason.
This is from Denny's FanPost:
According to Haslett, [Redskins general manager Bruce] Allen has some connections with some people in Indianapolis and mentioned discussions surrounding Peyton in a Redskins uniform have already begun behind the scenes.
That, my good friends, is what we call tampering if it is indeed true. It's a big no-no in the NFL, even though, apparently, everyone does it. Denny's story was so believable that, according to NFL.com, it caught the attention of Redskins beat writers.
The Washington Post also called, and Haslett again rejected the notion that he had inside knowledge of the team's plans at quarterback.
"I don't know what our plans are," Haslett said. "I worry about the D."
This all came as a surprise to Denny, who insisted he wasn't trying to play "gotcha journalism."
"When I saw it was getting this much publicity I felt bad, and my wife got on me about it too," Denny told WLZL-FM last week, via The Post. "I had no intention of going undercover or getting him in trouble or anything like that."
Denny, a pastor from Charlotte, N.C., added that he wasn't bothered by Haslett's denial.
In case any of you care, I've known about Mr. Denny's FanPost since February 7th. I followed up with Hogs Haven editor Kevin Ewoldt at the time, and Kevin told me Denny was a well-respected member of the Hogs Haven community. However, because the source was a Redskins fan I'd never met or knew anything about, I didn't rush to Stampede Blue and whip up a post proclaiming, 'REDSKINS TAMPERING TO GET MANNING, VIA HOGS HAVEN!'
1) Ewoldt and Hogs Haven did not 'report' this story. A fan did in the FanPost section, which is designed to allow fans to pretty much write whatever they want so long as it does not violate that blog's rules. Hogs Haven did, however, promote Denny's FanPost to their front page, which is, in a way, the blog's editors endorsing the story.
2) Tampering is a pretty serious violation of NFL rules, and with a potential free agent as high profile as Peyton Manning, it's just THAT MUCH MORE serious if someone is, indeed, breaking the rules to sign a him even though he is still contractually obligated to the Indianapolis Colts. Thus, it's important to get facts straight, and at the time there were a few facts in Denny's report that didn't add up.
That was then. Today, Redskins beat writers thought enough of Denny's account to follow-up on it, and Mike Florio of PFT is also inclined to believe Mr. Denny:
Haslett predictably has denied saying any such thing. Twice. Strategic interests and potential tampering allegations required him to do so, especially since the fan claims that Haslett said discussions about bringing Peyton to D.C. "have already begun behind the scenes." But the fan/blogger also is a pastor, which tends to make his account more believable.
In any event, it’s inherently more believable than anything a coach or G.M. ever has to say. About pretty much anything.
For me personally, I believed Denny's story back on February 7th, and I believe it now. It's just too detailed to be made up. I also do not believe anything, ANYTHING, that comes out of the Redskins camp. They don't exactly have the most sparkling of reputations when it comes to fan and media relations. Oh, and their owner is a sack of human bile.
So, for me, Haslett made a big 'OOPS!' and just let everyone and their mother know what the Redskins plans are in relation to Peyton Manning. The question now is what will the NFL do about it.
Should the Redskins be found guilty of tampering, the Colts could be eligible for compensation. As recently as last year, the Detroit Lions were found guilty of tampering and had to forfeit their seventh-round draft pick that year while also swapping out their fifth-round pick with the Kansas City Chiefs. It's assumed that safety Jarrad Page was the reason Detroit was found guilty.
So, yeah. Tampering for Jarrad Page cost the Lions a 5th and a 7th. What would tampering for Peyton Manning potentially cost the Skins?