July 29, 2011; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross (center) fields questions from reporters before a teams practice at the Dolphins training facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The Things Stephen Ross Doesn’t Say


The number one priority for Stephen Ross is Peyton Manning.  He said it.  Sorry, I don’t have a link because frankly, he never said it.  Not publicly and likely not behind closed doors to anyone but the top three or four members of his management team that he trusts.  Which means that those three or four wouldn’t have said anything to anyone either. Where am I going with all this?  Well, it’s all about perception and worst of all, piss poor journalism.

A few years back when the blogging world started to take over the internet, NBC’s Bob Costas lashed out at bloggers specifically saying that they have zero accountability in what they write.  He was 100 percent correct, then.  Today, most amateur journalists tend to be more cautious in their approach.  Why?  Simple, without the resources that beat writers and national writers have they, we, tend to do more actual research on a subject.  Case in point.  Stephen Ross.

It’s funny that if you go back two seasons ago, Ross made an impromptu trip to California to put the full press on then Stanford HC Jim Harbaugh.  All the while sitting back here was a wavering still HC Tony Sparano.  Yet for all the hype surrounding Ross’ trip, there were no images, not one single image of Ross going to see Harbaugh.  Not one.  Not one report that they met or one report that Harbaugh told Ross he wouldn’t give him the time of day or a face to face.

It was all assumed base on “sources”.  I know this because in speaking to a “reliable” source, I was told that Harbaugh was a done deal and Sparano was being fired.  I got the news before everyone else, and a lot of people ran with it.   Guess what?  That source wasn’t so reliable after all and no other person in the media nationally or locally, provided anything more than a tail number to Ross’ plan being in Cali.

There was very little question that Stephen Ross was going to go after a big name head coach following the Sparano dismissal.  The top available name was Jeff Fisher when the rumor dust settled on the spurning of Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden…who coincidentally didn’t come out of retirement to coach any of the vacant teams.  The Fisher conundrum started when Stephen Ross reportedly told someone that he would “not be outbid”.  Yet Ross never publicly said that.  Not to ESPN or NFL Network.  I have no link to take you to an article that specifically “quotes” Ross saying that.  In fact, they all would lead you to someone hearing that information from, you guessed it, a “source”.

The black-eye that the franchise took for losing Harbaugh and Fisher seems to stem more from the inflated excitement dished out to the fan base by journalists.  Based on sourced information that they can’t even quote from.  It’s always leaked by some high ranking member of the team.  Do you know who a lot of those “high-ranking” guys are?  Equipment managers, video editors, guys that breakdown film.  It’s not Jeff Ireland types, or Mike Dee types, or their secretaries.  It’s never anyone who was in the room when the conversations reportedly took place.  Otherwise, we would know that.

So now here we are with Peyton Manning and Stephen Ross’ “I will not be outbid once again” stand in the public eye.  Yet there is no video to show you of Ross standing at a podium saying that.  No link to take you to from some reporter who was there and heard him actually say that.  What there is, is Stephen Ross telling the media that QB would be a high priority for the team.  That the Dolphins needed to solve their QB situation once and for all.

Enter the world of journalism.

To some degree, the blogging community that was so reviled five to six years ago, is responsible for the poor journalism that we see today.  For bloggers and amateur journalists, long forgotten is the need to be the first to report what you hear.  We have embraced the fact that we need to work together as a community of writers to give the fans, readers, and everyone else the right information in a timely manner.  We use our research to form strong opinions, educated opinions, and we don’t need to be the first to get the scoop.  The mainstream media is simply too new at this to grasp that concept.  They still feel the need to compete with each other to be that “source” for breaking news and so much so that they do it without considering the end result.  To them, it’s the source that is wrong.

When I reported the Harbaugh deal and it failed, I quickly took the podium, computer, and apologized for the information.  Why?  Simple, my source didn’t report it, I did.  I was the one who stirred up the hornets nest.  He relayed information that he was given from someone else and I took the approach of forging it as a fact.  It happens and we see that clearly every time someone in the media says “Ross said this” when he didn’t.

It’s funny that in the course of five to six years, newspaper writers now have “blogs” on their sites and are more likely to report to the reader there then in print.  It’s funny that some who used to scurry to the computer to get out an article that broke news and then would later come back and revise and update are now simply typing out as fast as they can a “tweet” about the news to be the first to make it to base.

So while Stephen Ross and Jeff Ireland deal with image problems that stem from things they never publicly say, the irony of it all is this.  Whereas bloggers were criticized for being nothing more than unaccountable amateurs, it’s those same amateurs who have reached out to the masses and spoke with more conviction, passion, and realism than those journalists who we often quote or link back to.  It’s those mainstream journalists who suddenly find themselves being the ones who report whatever they hear from whatever sources they may have without a sense of accountability for whether that information is true, not true, or borderline bull.  To them, it’s o.k.  It’s the sources fault.

In a way, it’s funny as well that here we are, quoting and linking back to these “journalists” who show little integrity and can wipe it off when it is wrong because we never said it.  They are actually making it easier for us.  Still when it comes to Stephen Ross and those comments that he said, it’s better to first go to the source of where he said it and who he said it to.  If you can’t find a link, an actual quote, or an author who says, “I sat down with Stephen Ross and he said…” then I wouldn’t get yourself upset over it later.

It’s speculation based on needs and assumptions and sources that likely were never in the room to begin with.

Oh, and let me make something really clear here as well.  There are some VERY good beat writers in Miami that do a helluva job researching and getting the fact right before they get the info out to the masses.  There are some very good national media as well.  This, is not a knock on all of them or even those who slip from time to time.  But take the media bashing and jokes about Ross with a grain of salt.  As I said, he said nothing.

UPDATE:  Interestingly enough, as I finished writing this, I hopped over to “Twitter” where 79 new messages were up.  I clicked refresh and found that the “Miami Dolphins are officially out of the Peyton Manning race”.  Followed by a slew of other “tweets” regarding how bad the FO is in Miami that the Dolphins didn’t even get a sit-down with Manning.  Then it popped up that “The Dolphins are NOT out of the running for Peyton Manning”.  Turns out it was a “sources” error.  Which basically made me laugh after what I just wrote.

The Dolphins may not land Peyton Manning and they may not get a publicly seen face to face or even a not-publicly seen face to face.  And you can bet that regardless of what transpires, someone will claim it’s something else based on something someone else heard someone say or do.

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    • Brian Miller

      I’m never above myself. I still feel horrible for that. The worst part was the source was in the perfect place and time to relay the info. Came from a Parcell’s person who told my source that Sparano was looking for a new job and Phins were bringing Harbaugh back. Oh well.

      • Brian Miller

        I doubt it, I don’t own a Marino jersey. Sure won’t buy a Tebow…;)