Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Beware the anonymous, single-source story, Browns fans

heckert-draft-10-jgjpg-b455db635d3c46beAnother day, another round of rumors surrounding the future of Cleveland Browns general manager Tom Heckert.

First off comes Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk, who writes that a “league source” told him that if the Browns fire Heckert it will be because he was not willing to mortgage the team’s future in a pre-draft trade for Robert Griffin III.

So, if this “report” is to be believed, Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner will hold Heckert responsible for something that occurred before they were even involved with the team and with having no knowledge about any of the discussions the Browns had about a potential trade.

We guess, since they can only fire Mike Holmgren once, they need someone else to kick around.

No matter where you fall in the debate over RG3 – that the Browns should have done anything to get him (even though he will have to be as productive as Tom Brady for the trade to work out) or that the Browns needed the draft picks to continue restocking the roster – the thought that Haslam and Banner would fire Heckert over something that they were not involved in strikes us as odd.

The second “report” comes from Jason La Canfora, who continues to beat the drum for Mike Lombardi’s quest to talk his way back into the NFL.

La Canfora writes that it is “likely” the Browns will not keep Heckert after the season and that “sources” say that Lombardi is the top candidate for the job because, get this, Banner “respects (Lombardi’s) talent-evaluation skills.”

Once you stop laughing at the notion that the guy who drafted “Touchdown” Tommy Vardell has talent-evaluation skills that should be respected, you have to wonder about Banner’s talent-evaluation skills if he thinks Lombardi knows what he’s doing.

But more importantly, what do those two stories have in common? They both are anonymous, single-sourced stories, the type that should have no credibility.

Nowadays, where it is more important to be first and to be loud – as opposed to being right (or at least trying to get it right) – more and more this is what we are getting from the sports media. And we might be in the minority, but it is getting exhausting.

Think about how easy it is to write something when you really don’t have to back it up with anything concrete. For example, on Friday we wrote a post mostly in jest about how Banner would be so swayed by a favorable story on Philadelphia coach Andy Reid that Banner would have to hire him for the Browns job if Reid is fired in Philadelphia.

It was easy enough to draw an imaginary line from Reid to Banner to Cleveland – after all, they worked together in Philadelphia, so that must mean something. If we had more of a national presence, we could have called a “source” – could have been a front office person, a scout, an agent, wouldn’t have mattered – and asked them what they thought about Reid in Cleveland.

That’s all it would have taken and we would have a “report” with “sources” saying Cleveland is interested in Reid. Would it have been correct? Technically, maybe. But it wouldn’t have been rooted in any real facts.

Perhaps we are making too big a deal out of this, or maybe we are too old-fashioned; after all, we still read the newspaper on Sunday mornings.

But with so much noise on a daily basis in the sports world, it’s frustrating when the weakest efforts get the most attention. Maybe if we stop treating these types of stories as if they actually mean something, we can help cut down on that noise a little bit.

If not, well … you’ll never believe what one of our “sources” just told us about the next Browns coach.

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)


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