Greg T. Spielberg

Lee Carpenter’s Tim Tebow story needs a warning label

In Uncategorized, writing on August 20, 2010 at 4:37 pm

This picture is from a fun post  by Tom Scott. He affixes warning labels to different journalism stories that reflect the reason for their short-comings. For instance, “Warning: To ensure future interviews with subject, important questions were not asked.” This mask my favorite because the practice or writing “some would say” or “some claim” should never get into print anywhere, any time. It’s like being at the bar with a group of friends and calling out one of them: “Hey, why are you being so awkward?” Even if they’re not being awkward at all, it gets a false ball rolling.

Leaning on “some would say” or “some would claim” or “according to some” automatically means we’re dealing with a pale-faced sandwich of a story that should be tossed out. It’s not necessarily a journalist hiding his/her own views as it is creating a false reason for the story.  Earlier today, before I saw the Scott page, I tweeted this:

Yahoo is forever king of misleading, false, gossipy headlines. “Injury reinforces concerns about Broncos’ Tebow.”

The story by Lee Carpenter is exactly the type of story that should come with a warning, except it should just say, “This story contains the phrase ‘some people claim.'” Carpenter suggests that Tim Tebow, the rookie quarterback for the Denver Broncos, is considered unfit for the NFL. He says that Tebow’s pre-season plunge into the endzone, where he injured a Bengals defender and himself, reinforces an existing concern about Tebow’s style of play. There certainly has been criticism of Tebow’s game in the past — that he runs too much, that he doesn’t have a good a good-enough arm. Those are fair. But Carpenter doesn’t actually reference a critique at any point in his story. Instead, he writes, “those who say his style of throwing the ball is too cumbersome to translate to the professional game and find his headfirst plunges into the chests of tacklers as a great way to get hurt rather than a heroic display of manhood.”

“Those who say” needs a link. Otherwise Carpenter isn’t building an argument off anything. Barreling into the end zone is common. NFL quarterbacks do that. John Elway barreled into the end zone during Super Bowl XXXII. Donovan McNabb did the same thing last year and broke his ribs. Both are legit, long-career QBs. McNabb-frequent All-Pro. Elway-Hall of Famer and former Bronco. Steve Young scrambled, too, and won a Super Bowl. He had a weird delivery, played second-string, went to BYU.

“And so,” Carpenter writes, “a month into his NFL career, before a real game has been played, the worst fears about Tebow have been realized.” Whose fears? What fear. Mike Kils, sportswriter for the Denver Post, does a great job laying out the injuries that have resulted from Tebow’s running back style and includes quotes from past Florida teammates and specific examples. No warning needed.


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