Zach Berman, who recently left the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote a story today for The Athletic titled “‘He was a good barista’: Nick Foles’ little-known legacy with the Eagles? Coffee.”
I read it. It was fine; just a short feature type of story with some quotes about Foles’ love of coffee and how he piqued other players’ interest via his brewing skill and commitment to the craft.
However, Deadspin seemed to have a problem with the article, and this specific paragraph, which appears near the top of the story:
Foles’ devotion to coffee, and specifically Bulletproof coffee, has become legendary in the Eagles’ building. He was almost evangelical about it, brewing coffee for teammates and coaches and sharing the health benefits. (Foles officially partnered with Bulletproof 360 Inc. in July.) Mike Groh used to find it waiting on his desk in the morning. Brandon Brooks had a care package sent to him after Foles left for Florida.
Hmm.. ok. Seems rather innocuous to me. Zach mentions specifically that Nick has a business relationship with the coffee company. What’s the problem?
Here’s Deadspin’s problem, from a Tom Ley rebuttal titled “The Athletic Can’t Stop Humping Useless Butter Coffee,” after the jump:
On one level, the point of this article is simply to pretend like the fact that Nick Foles is no longer around to brew coffee for the rest of the Eagles is at all noteworthy—much the same way other practitioners of this form have tried to pretend that athletes drinking water is noteworthy. On another, stupider level, it is meant to provide free publicity for a dumb snake oil company.
Okay I’ll keep reading:
Bulletproof Coffee is a product created by hucksters who have spent years selling people on the idea that putting butter and expensive MCT oils into their coffee is the key to living a healthy lifestyle. The entire enterprise has been debunked repeatedly—Gizmodo did so way back in 2015!—and we are long past the time when anyone, particularly a journalist, should be taking any Bulletproof Coffee products seriously.
What’s really weird is that this isn’t even the first time that The Athletic has used Foles’s partnership with the company as an excuse to run friendly press for it. Just last month, The Athletic’s new sports business vertical ran an entire article about Foles’s love for stupid butter coffee, and the whole thing read like a press release. This is all that article had to say about the fact that the oily butter coffee is useless:
“Of course, Bulletproof is not without its critics. Peruse YouTube, or just search “Bulletproof and science,” and scores of results emerge from those who argue Asprey is a quack with no scientific training or evidence to support his practices and diets.”
Ley closes his story by saying, “Everything about sports media is so embarrassing,” which is a bit dramatic. Is there some nefarious arrangement between Bulletproof Coffee and The Athletic to promote this product on a platform that requires a paid subscription to access? That would be somewhat myopic, if true.
But this line is corny to me:
“we are long past the time when anyone, particularly a journalist, should be taking any Bulletproof Coffee products seriously.”
It’s corny to me because Zach Berman isn’t passing judgment on the legitimacy of Bulletproof Coffee. He’s noting in a feature story that Foles likes the product while disclosing the business arrangement between player and company.
Here’s another paragraph:
These weren’t coffee runs on the way to work. Rather, Foles took to making the coffee himself. There’s a station in the quarterback meeting rooms with the supplies Foles needed for the task. He would brew about eight ounces of coffee, add a tablespoon of unsalted butter, a tablespoon of brain octane MCT oil and collagen protein, and blend it all, according to Nate Sudfeld. Zach Ertz called it a “full-on process,” joking that he didn’t know how much film they were able to watch while crafting the coffee.
That’s not an endorsement. That’s Berman explaining how Foles went about making his coffee. If you believe it’s legit, cool, and if not, then cool. You the reader are than capable of deciding for yourself. Zach himself isn’t leaning one way or another, but Deadspin’s argument is that the mentioning of the coffee AT ALL is enough to warrant criticism.
Seems like some Athletic commenters agree:
I disagree. Berman isn’t peddling anything. It doesn’t read like sponsored content. This was a harmless feature story about Nick Foles and coffee, not a deep dive into the legitimacy of Bulletproof. Berman isn’t taking anybody’s side, he’s telling a story via player quotes. We’re all smart enough to draw our own conclusions.