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This post isn’t a dig at Les Bowen. In fact, I give him credit for giving a peek behind the curtain of the mess that is trade rumor sourcing. Because this DeSean Jackson thing has been all-timer.

Les, giving us more:

I’ve now heard from a more “official” DeSean Jackson source. Source says contrary to what I was told earlier, and what Ike Reese reported on 94WIP, DeSean HAS NOT talked to Chip Kelly about trade speculation. Says DeSean has tried to, but Chip has been too busy with free agency, etc.

Sorry for taking everyone on a roller-coaster ride here. One problem is that neither the Eagles nor Jackson is willing to talk about this, so we go to other sources, who might or might not know what they’re talking about. I know the guy I texted, who confirmed Ike’s report to me, is close friends with DeSean. But would he “confirm” something just to seem knowledgeable? I dunno. I am sure the person who emailed me to correct this is in a position of authority. And of course, it would be nice if you could just ask the Eagles, “Hey, has Chip talked to DeSean, as has been reported,” and get an answer. But you can’t.

A more detailed explanation today:

For a while there yesterday, it seemed this all might go away. On 94WIP, former Eagle Ike Reese said he had been told that Eagles coach Chip Kelly had called Jackson and told the team’s top receiver not to listen to the media speculation. A source close to Jackson contacted by the Daily News was asked if this was true, and the source said it was indeed the case, though the source said he didn’t know when the conversation might have taken place.

But an Eagletarian blog post containing this information drew a response from someone else, in a more authoritative position in the Jackson camp. This person, who did not wish to be identified, said Jackson has not talked to Kelly. The source said Jackson has tried to reach the coach, but Kelly has been too busy with free agency to get back to him. (Kelly attended Virginia Tech’s pro day yesterday, Florida State’s the day before.)

What we have here is a reporter who covers an NFL team for a major local media outlet admitting that, yeah, we report on sources who may or may not be telling the truth. Unreliable ones. Again, that’s not a dig at Les. At least he’s being honest and put the chips (Chips Kelly?) on the table. We’re all willing to play the game – and I’m happy to trumpet those poorly-sourced reports as rumor fodder – but I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen someone so bluntly explain that he and his peers go to unreliable people for their stories. Often, official sources are the subject of a particular story who can’t speak on the record. Sometimes they’re someone very close to the subject. Other times, they’re unreliable friends and hangers-on.

Blogs get shit on a lot for throwing shit at the wall, but if I’ve learned one thing over more than four years of doing this, it’s that most of the mainstream media is no better – and often worse – with this stuff. Off the top of my head, reports appearing on this site that have turned out to be blatantly inaccurate are ones where I was passing along a report from [insert mainstream reporter]. Granted, I’m not in the business of breaking news, but when something is presented as fact here first – usually media-related or TMZ-style bits – it’s been well vetted. There may be the odd detail here or there that is hard to verify, as is the case with many reports, but the major points are always there. I feel like the biggest mistakes I have made are times when I trusted a mainstream media member I didn’t know enough about (a midwestern radio hack reporting that Gus Bradley was the Eagles’ new head coach comes to mind). This obviously doesn’t include opinions I wish I could take back.

For example: I found out that DeSean Jackson’s house was robbed about eight hours before it became news. A cop, who had been right on things before, told me about it. He explained virtually every detail that eventually came out. But he was, for lack of a better description, just a reader. I didn’t know him. Didn’t doubt him. But didn’t know him. A cop. So I spent half the day trying to find someone to confirm it for me. Eventually I just tweeted D-Jac’s mom and asked her, which pissed off Ike Reese (the same person who started this nonsense yesterday when he reported that DeSean did meet with Kelly). By the time I felt confident in posting it, the media had picked up on it and it was on FOX, I think. It happens. But when stories are either true or untrue, it’s not hard to be sure.

Bringing it back to the current DeSean reports… this is one that is very easy to get right. The report that he did or didn’t meet with Chip is a yes or no thing. It’s not just a trade rumor where there’s plenty of room for ambiguity. It’s yes or it’s no. And here you have two reporters saying he did, and two saying he didn’t. One of them was the same person. It’s pretty easy to get that right. It’s not a grey area that contains varying shades of truth. It’s a fact. If you can’t trust your source, then just don’t report it. Don’t blame the team for not commenting on it. Just don’t fucking report it. This isn’t hard.