Ok, normally when I rant against the media it's directed at the machinations of ESPN's 24 hour news cycle and the constant cacophony of crappy stories. Today, however, I'd like to take a look at a different sort of awful writing.
SI.com's Michael Silver decided to rank the NFL owners. And of course, he got it completely wrong. From top to bottom. He ignores any of the debate over the future of the league, he demonstrates a clear lack of understanding or caring toward the long-term future of the league, and he most certainly know's which teams grant him more access than others. All in all it's such a fantastic piece of Journalism that belongs on ESPiN rather than the often superior SI.com.
Now I'm not going to completey whine about how he completely and egregiously underestimated what Wayne Weaver is doing for Jacksonville and his team. I know that it must be really hard to be a professional sports journalist and there's really no way to actually measure the quality of owners in any sort of fair metric. And I know the challenges of writing during this dreadful period between mini-camp and training camp, as demonstrated by the previous week of non-posts. But that's no excuse for the garbage thrown together here by Silver.
Let's get his words out of the way.
Last year the man I nicknamed Whine Weaver couldn't crack the bottom eight, but he gets more annoying by the week. First and foremost, he fought to put an expansion franchise in a lightweight town, yet he can't stop crying about his status as a small-market owner and demands revenue-sharing as though it were his birthright. Weaver also, as one owner says, "constantly denies his team is for sale when everyone knows full well it is."
Hey, I just came up with a solution to the L.A. problem: Weaver sells the team to a non-whiner like, say, Larry Ellison or Casey Wasserman, who moves it to the Coliseum (and, soon after, to a newly constructed, Jerry Jones-style palace) and hires Pete Carroll. Any objections coming from outside of Jacksonville's 9,456-mile city limits? Didn't think so.
Well, first off, I'm well outside of the city limits, so I hope that keeps me credible. But let's take this step by step. First, his entire ranking system reflects a clear bias toward the large market teams. His top ten include the Patriots (1), Cowboys (2), Redskins (5), Eagles (6), Texans (7), Dolphins (8), Steelers (9) and Broncos (10). Even when he does include a small market (Panthers, 3), he tosses in a cheap shot at the little guys.
But returning to the article, he puts Wayne in the same company as Al Davis, Tom Benson, Ralph Wilson and Mike Brown. Because trying to move the team out of Katrina, running a storied franchise into the ground, being stuck in Canada and having a team in the slammer is JUST like everything Wayne Weaver has done for Jacksonville.
Let's get the facts straight. As I clearly demonstrated in the Small Market Round Table, the NFL is beginning to enter a period of inequality. Wayne Weaver, as loud as he might be about the idea of sharing revenue amongst the teams, has the right idea. I don't care if you're a Redskins fan or a Bills fan, the future of the league depends on the ability to consistently field a competitive product. As soon as the top five teams or so expand their financial dominance to the point of on the field superiority, the value of the product diminishes and the whole league will suffer. It's very much a "united we stand, divided we fall" adventure. If defending the future of the league is bad enough to tank Wayne in the rankings, then I hope he gets last place next year.
It's just an absurd article from top to bottom. Mike gives props to the teams that give good media access and runs the ones that aren't interesting to him on the bottom. There's no science to this, there's no real thought. It's as bad as the "power rankings" people seem to obsess over.
Of course, there was a response to this "journalism".
I read your list ranking NFL owners on sportsillustrated.cnn.com with amusement this morning until I reached your description of Wayne Weaver and Jacksonville. Your characterization of Mr. Weaver and our great city could not be further from accurate.
What you may not know about Mr. Weaver is his tenacity, desire to compete and generosity. Thirteen years ago, he convinced the NFL it could succeed in Jacksonville, and it has. Six years ago, Mr. Weaver won the competition for Super Bowl XXXIX and brought it to Jacksonville. Just last week, in the midst of a state-inflicted revenue crisis, Mr. Weaver and his wife personally donated $21 million to local non-profits to ensure their good works continue in Jacksonville.
And let me assure you that Jacksonville is no 'light weight town.' In fact, since our Super Bowl, more than two dozen companies have either expanded or relocated operations in Jacksonville. Per capita income is on the rise. We enjoy the nation's largest urban park system. In addition, we are opening an East-West trading lane that has the potential to make Jacksonville's port the third-largest on the East Coast in the next 15 to 20 years.
Regardless of your view on the big market v. small market debate being held among NFL owners, no one can deny that the NFL has it more right than wrong. The parity created by revenue sharing makes the games more compelling and the league far more entertaining than other leagues that routinely pit the 'haves' against the 'have-nots.'
In short, it is better for the NFL to have a strong Jacksonville Jaguars team competing with the Dallas Cowboys than to have yet another mediocre franchise that decides to fold up shop after a few years of SoCal apathy. "
Mayor of Jacksonville, Florida
cc: Wayne Weaver
And of course, Silver takes the pithy approach of criticizing Mayor Peyton for paying attention to what he said about Wayne and throws out a link to a possible terrorist threat to Jacksonville. What a novel way to make the Mayor look crappy by implying that he's spending more time reading SI.com than addressing the security and safety of Jacksonville. I mean, it's like Karl Rove's grand strategy of making opponents look awful no matter how they reply. Frankly, I'm glad that Mayor Peyton took 5 minutes to dictate a reply before returning to the business of governing. Perhaps Silver is a bit jealous at the relative importance of their respective careers. But I'm glad he's willing to tell the Mayor what's important and what's not.
I could continue with a litany of other problems. Like asking the NFL to put a team in the LA Coliseum when the city can't figure out who will pay for the needed renovations. Or
I hate media critiques as much as the next guy. I'm clearly a biased source and I would have probably written a different article if Wayne was ranked higher. But I'm most concerned with the deepness of this mindset toward the small market teams. Is this a reflection of the capitalist idea of no wealth sharing? Is the media, who serves as our gatekeeper of information so blind to the problems facing the NFL? Are they so indebted to the league that they can't offer an honest criticism of the future? Is this a hit-piece designed to intimidate Mr. Weaver?
I just don't know.