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Tom Brady’s Stolen Jersey and Bogus Sports Writers

March 21st, 2017 · 1 Comment · Dodgers, Football, Newspapers, NFL, Sports Journalism

The mystery of Tom Brady’s missing Super Bowl jersey has been solved as well as resolved.

A Mexican national with a media credential apparently snatched the No. 12 Patriots jersey after New England’s dramatic 28-25 victory in Super Bowl 51, but the jersey is back in the U.S. along with what appears to be the helmet of Super Bowl 50 MVP linebacker Von Miller … as well as what appears to be the jersey Tim Brady wore in Super Bowl 49.

The nub of this? Bogus sports writers at major sports events.

I detest them. I would like to punch them in the face. As would most real sports writers, who play by the rules.

The thing about writing sports … much of the “civilian” population believes it must have to do with getting autographs and selfies and maybe a jersey or two that lie unattended in a locker room.

Like, what’s the point of all that access if you can’t bulk up your collectibles and autograph collection and pal around with the jocks?

Inside the sports writer fraternity, however, that sort of posing and, yes, theft, brings out strong feelings because it strikes at the heart of the journalist-athlete relationship. Athletes already are more than a little inclined to see working stiffs as little more than fans with a tape recorder.

And this Mexican media executive/scoundrel not doing a bit of work — other than stealing equipment and getting autographs and selfies — damages the reputation of all real journalists.

Here is the deal, people, for those of you not working in sports journalism:

You never, ever, ever ask an athlete for an autograph. You are a working journalist; he or she is a working athlete. You are equal. Both of you are on the job, and people on the job do not ask for autographs.

All of the rest comes from that “small” thing.

Never ask for a photo or a selfie. Never try to get credentialed to an event you have no plans to cover.

And, of course, don’t allow bits of a uniform to climb into your bag.

This Brady jersey things annoys me so much that I have flashed on an incident from 25 (at least) years ago that I had tried to forget.

A guy who had done occasional work for my newspaper, covering events in the High Desert, called the Los Angeles Dodgers media relations department, identified himself as me and set up a media credential for himself and a friend.

That got them access to the press box as well as to the lockerrooms, and before the game either he or his friend (or both of them) stole a couple of jerseys out of the visiting team’s clubhouse. I think it was the Cincinnati Reds.

Anyway, late that Sunday morning I got a phone call from the Dodgers asking me if I had set up a credential for this loser and his loser friend. I told them I had not. Then they told me what he had been up to, and my sense of betrayal was exceeded only by my anger.

I have never been more mortified.

As I recall, the Dodgers showed those guys the door, rather than press charges. Needless to say, that “journalist” guy never worked for me again.

Part of the issue, with the Super Bowl, is the NFL’s difficulties identifying real journalists among the many (20,000? Really?) people they credential to the game.

The Mexican news executive made it all even more muddled by having his current newspaper run stories from the Super Bowl with his byline at them. Meanwhile, the news exec was bragging about how he was there for fun only, not to write.

The NFL ought to revisit this … and do more vetting of people trying to get credentialed. Especially those people whose names and employers are unknown to them.

What is more likely to happen is that the NFL will ban reporters from the Super Bowl lockerrooms. That way, the likes of this jersey-thieving weasel will never get inside.

But that “easy” solution will hurt legitimate journalists who venture into the changing area in pursuit of peripheral athletes who played in the game but had no significant role in it and are not made available at the podiums under the stadium.

(I recall one guy, in particular, named David Lang, who played for the Dallas Cowboys when they won Super Bowl 30. He was a hometown story for me. I went to the lockerroom and found him; I was the only person who talked to him. If I had been barred from the lockerroom, I very likely would have missed him — unless I camped out at the door, on deadline, and waited for him to come out.)

It is a tenuous relationship, between athlete and reporter, and the guy who stole Brady’s jersey — and who knows what else — has made it more tenuous.



1 response so far ↓

  • 1 David // Mar 22, 2017 at 5:58 AM

    The first year I covered the Lakers in the NBA playoffs, we were late in applying for a credential for the Finals. The NBA accommodated me, but I didn’t have a press seat on the road. I was able to find one in the “international media” section of the aux box — which was occupied by far too many guys wearing jerseys, eating and doing absolutely no work. I know many of them had no particular deadline issues, so they could just watch and write later, but geez, at least act slightly professional. (Anyone wearing a jersey for one of the teams should immediately have his/her credential pulled.) Between that and behavior I saw at the Olympics, it was hard for me to take a lot of foreign press seriously.

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