ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in making things up, is barking up a new tree this week. Taking a harmless, irrelevant, and complimentary tweet by Patriots receiver Chad Ochocinco, the network has attempted to build a story from sheer nothingness, creating controversy out of thin air for purposes known only to itself.
Presumably, those purposes revolve around generating sensationalistic nonsense that will generate web hits and increase viewership. But of course, that’s mere speculation.
The tweet at issue is this:
Just waking up after a late arrival, I’ve never seen a machine operate like that n person,to see video game numbers put up n person was WOW
To provide some context, this is Ochocinco’s take on the Pats offense as it lambasted the poor Dolphins in Monday night’s season opener. This is Ochocinco paying a compliment to his new team, a team he just joined and to which he’s still adjusting.
Bear in mind that this season had no summer workouts, no OTAs, no team activities of any kind until late in the year due to the lockout.
If any rational person could explain to me how this tweet is in any way inflammatory or controversial, I would love to hear it. If it had been posted by a player who was not previously a lightning rod of controversy, it would be a non-issue. It probably would never have even drawn mention from the mainstream media. But it was in fact posted by a problem child, a perceived bad boy.
Is the media, and ESPN in particular, rooting for drama here? Is it rooting for Ochocinco to fail? Is ESPN looking for early indications that his tenure in New England will be a rocky one, full of bickering and barbs? That’s certainly what it feels like. It feels like the network wants this to be the first crack in a crumbling foundation as Ochocinco alienates yet another franchise.
And in the absence of such a thing actually occurring, ESPN is content to pretend.
First, this tweet “angered” former Patriot Tedy Bruschi. Who now, of course, works for ESPN. What a coincidence! Feel free to read the article; you’ll be left wondering what in the hell these guys are even talking about.
This is the living definition of a non-story. So much so that it doesn’t even have an author. It was “contributed to” by ESPNBoston’s Mike Reiss, whatever that means. ESPN.com could have posted the lyrics to Tedy Bruschi’s favorite rap song and it would have had more relevance than this garbage.
However, once posted, the non-story assumed a life of its own, evolving into a lead story for Colin Cowherd’s radio show and putting Ochocinco front and center on ESPN’s NFL page.
This is the most transparent and pathetic attempt at baiting a player that I have ever seen. And then ESPN has the temerity to feed on its own emesis, with Reiss writing that the way Ochocinco handles this “criticism” will tell us a great deal about his future in New England.
It’s appalling to watch a storyline be made up out of whole cloth, only so its very inventors could use it as fodder for additional posts.
But regardless of how it came to be, this absurdity now has legs. And Ochocinco must decide how he wants to react. ESPN could be doing the Patriots franchise a huge disservice, manufacturing a distraction and fostering ill will where none previously existed. Ochocinco must take the high road, ignoring these cretins and their lack of journalistic integrity. He must take in stride their criticism of his lack of impact in week one.
Yes, the man was targeted only three times, but he’s still learning the offense.
Being in new England has revitalized careers before (see Randy Moss), and Ochocinco has the talent to become the team’s top deep threat within a few weeks. There’s no need for him or his teammates to put any stock in anything ESPN has to say.
Bruschi should be ashamed of himself for allowing his name to pulled into this, and if he wants to help his former team, he’ll put a stop to his involvement. Let others try to rattle Ochocinco’s cage, Bruschi is too big for such foolishness.
Ochocinco himself must rise above it as well, focus on football, and prepare to silence his critics as the 2011 season moves on.