It’s usually Flyers writers mouthing their subjects. But Bob Grotz of the Delco Times managed to show just how shallow and easily-won-over local, access-seeking sportswriters can be.
I don’t know LeSean McCoy. I’ve never met him. But doing what I do I’ve heard from more than one person that early-career success has, at least a bit, gone to his head. His Twitter feud with his baby mama and a lawsuit which alleges that he and his boys assaulted and threw a woman off a party bus on the NJ Turnpike buoy that claim. McCoy has created a bit of a troublemaker image for himself.
Over time, it’s easy enough for any athlete or celebrity to shed such a non-damning image. Time and a few gentle deeds will win-over most observers. Or, if you’re Grotz, one charity softball game – that McCoy showed up late to – is enough to alleviate any character concerns: [Delco Times]
For a while there, LeSean McCoy sure didn’t seem like the guy you would want pitching an ALS Society fundraiser.
The fierceness that made McCoy a Pro Bowl running back with the Eagles two years ago got the ultimate competitor in trouble off the field.
But Saturday, McCoy didn’t seem remotely like the guy who went toe-to-toe on Twitter with the mother of his son, an ugly exchange in which he ultimately apologized to the woman and to the public.
He didn’t seem at all like the guy who commissioned the so-called “party bus” in which one of the female passengers allegedly was jettisoned at a rest area on the New Jersey Turnpike after reportedly claiming she was assaulted. Police said no charges were filed.
Saturday night, McCoy was simply the ambassador of the second LeSean McCoy Charity Softball Game at Clipper Magazine Stadium, home of the Independent League Lancaster Barnstormers. The event pitting NFL players against McCoy and the Eagles raises funds and awareness for ALS, the disease that claimed McCoy’s late grandmother, Maryann Branch.
Arriving fashionably late, McCoy went right to work, defeating Torrey Smith of the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in the home run derby and then drilling another dinger in the game.
Well! Forget about the guy who abandoned his child and called its mother worthless. And forget about that whole party bus misunderstanding. McCoy showed up late to his own charity event and hit a home run. That’s what matters. You know who else shows up late to their own fundraiser? Dickheads.
As I said, I’ve never met McCoy. Maybe he’s a great guy, maybe he’s not. Maybe, like most NFL players, he’s somewhere in between good kid and murderer. That’s not the point. The point is that (sports and other) media is often too obsessed with gaining access to their subjects for often mundane, canned and scripted comments. This instead of actually questioning them. As such, you get lazy and favorable clichés so, next time, McCoy might talk to me.
Andrew Sullivan (one of the bloggers who is having success with a paywall) summed up this paradigm nicely in writing about the mainstream media’s terrible coverage of Ed Snowden (admittedly a much more important topic than LeSean McCoy being a troublemaker):
First, underlying a lot of this, is the MSM’s fear and loathing and envy of the blogger journalist. Notice that [NBC News' David] Gregory calls [Guardian reporter who broke Snowden story Glenn] Greenwald a “polemicist” – not a journalist. The difference, I presume, is that polemicists actually make people in power uncomfortable. Journalists simply do their best to get chummy with them in order to get exclusive tidbits that the powerful want you to know.
The point is, many writers – sports or otherwise – too often give favorable coverage to their subjects in order to continue, or further, their access.
Good for McCoy for hosting a charity event. But, newsflash: just about every major athlete has a foundation. It’s PR 101 for these guys. Hold a few events a year, raise some money, donate a portion to charity… and use the rest to pay for the event (some are better than others, and we’ll have a post on this soon). McCoy showing up late to a softball game does not shed his troublemaker image– it makes him just like his peers: Brent Celek, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Lou Williams and, yes, Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson, all of whom have foundations.
Let’s talk about those last two.
Here was the official press release for McCoy’s event, which cost anywhere from $10-$60 to attend:
Philadelphia Eagles’ All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy and the LeSean McCoy Foundation have released the names of several NFL players who have accepted the invitation to play in the 2nd Annual LeSean McCoy Celebrity Softball game at Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster, PA on Saturday, June 22nd at 7pm. The softball game will pit McCoy and his Eagle teammates against NFL All-Stars. DeSean Jackson, Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin are among McCoy’s Eagles’ teammates who have indicated they will be participating.
Guess who wasn’t there? Vick and Jackson. Guess who glossed over that whilst waxing poetic about McCoy? Grotz:
In addition to Maclin, Eagles teammates involved in the event were Brent Celek, Jamar Chaney, Brandon Graham and Jason Avant. Quarterback Michael Vick and wide receiver DeSean Jackson canceled due to “last-minute obligations,” according to organizers.
I get the sense that, often, players are listed as attending these sorts of events without actually ever confirming their presence. It’s happened to Jackson before. So you can either blame McCoy, for promoting their supposed attendance, or blame Vick and Jackson. Here’s what the latter was doing on Saturday:
I’m sure D-Jac will just have to glance at Grotz in a press conference and all will be forgiven.
McCoy held a nice event on Saturday. But saying that it shed his troublemaker image is lazy and yet another example of media being wayyyy too willing to regurgitate a press release and a few canned responses, all so they can continue to play the game.