Philadelphia has a very strong set of reporters and columnists covering the Eagles. Ask anyone who has lived in other cities. But individually and collectively, they have some very real biases and blind spots. So you can learn a lot by reading the beat reporters from whatever team the Birds are playing next.
One reason is that they don’t have to worry about angering the Eagles organization, or losing access to star players by writing something critical. They might also just be better reporters, or have the advantage of not having pissed players off in the past.
Tyler Dunne, a beat reporter for the Buffalo News, wrote an epic and nuanced portrait of LeSean McCoy with lots of detail you don’t see in the Philadelphia press.
The Shady he describes is a complex and very likable character who fits all the facts we know about him — good and bad. He’s passionate, loyal, generous, intensely dedicated, emotional, and bluntly honest. He’s also argumentative, stubborn, bullheaded, vengeful and resistant to coaching. One Eagles teammate put it this way: “You try to show him something and if he didn’t believe it, it didn’t matter what you showed him – he wasn’t going to believe it.”
Several former teammates mention, without details, that Shady argued with them about women (as a group). The profile doesn’t detail the arguments, but given his history (siccing thousands of twitter followers on his ex-girlfriend during a fight, advertising a women-only party with a sexy dress code, and allegedly having a woman thrown off his party bus) we can guess that McCoy was not taking a feminist ally stance.
What’s especially interesting is that Dunne has a wealth of sources just not found in local articles. He quotes McCoy’s older brother LeRon (“He’s just a moody person… He takes things personal”), his high school coach in Harrisburg (“He’s got a lot bottled up”), and a young RB at his old high school, who Shady mentored.
Most strikingly, Dunne quotes three current Philadelphia Eagles speaking on the record about their former teammate — Bryan Braman, Brent Celek, and fellow running back Kenjon Barner.
Where Philadelphia’s leading beat reporter, Jeff McLane, relies on anonymous sources and McCoy himself — who he has known for years — to present LeSean as a model citizen beloved by teammates, Dunne gives us a well-rounded character, flawed, loyal, heart on his sleeve. A guy you can imagine teammates loving, and shaking their heads over at the same time.
Dunne’s portrayal of McCoy matches the complex portrait painted by Seth Wickersham in ESPN The Magazine last August. This is a competitive and emotional guy, someone who cares, who rages, who doesn’t want to follow a coach’s strict rules, and — as Dunne says explicitly — a guy who bickered with Chip Kelly all last year.
In other words, a much more human and believable Shady than the one you read about in local newspapers.