While the investigation into the workplace culture within the Washington Football Team has yet to drop any bombshells on owner Dan Snyder and former GM Bruce Allen (and probably won’t), we’ve learned a ton about Jon Gruden’s worldview. We’ve also now learned a bit more about ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter’s journalistic ethics.
According to Sam Farmer and Nathan Fenno’s reporting for the Los Angeles Times, several released emails included showcase a very close relationship between Schefter and Allen, including one in which the ESPN reporter submitted an entire story for Allen’s approval and referred to Allen as “Mr. Editor.”
— Kevin Draper (@kevinmdraper) October 13, 2021
The news sparked an intense debate online amongst journalists and others in sports media regarding the ethics of such a relationship. Darren Rovell really stepped in it when he admitted that he has done similar things in the past, but for the most part, other media members have come out strongly against the idea that journalists should be doing something like this.
i mean, in his defense, its not like schefter has never purported to be anything other than league mouthpiece
— Astead (@AsteadWesley) October 13, 2021
getting a lot of "who cares, it's sports" about Schefter's unethical practices. In this specific instance, it's tens of thousands of people's jobs at stake.
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) October 13, 2021
Wow. Now we know why Adam Schefter is an NFL insider, he allows teams to proofread his stories for their liking before he posts them https://t.co/1214ttsmkl
— 𝐄𝐱𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐫 𝐏𝐨𝐩𝐞 (@exavierpope) October 13, 2021
The Schefter story boils down to one thing: too much sports 'journalism' is PR for the most powerful and exploitative entities in the athletic world.
The business of the NFL is predicated on literal physical sacrifice. Pro football journalism is literal PR. These are related.
— Happiness Vampire (@nkalamb) October 13, 2021
I've never done anything remotely like what Schefter did. Addressing a source as "Mr. Editor" and telling him to let you know what he wants "changed" in your writing is way, way outside the norm.
— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) October 13, 2021
It’s also been noted that, while the Schefter email looks pretty bad out of context, it’s possible that it might have been a way for him to curry favor with Allen, someone who has a reputation for being notoriously hard to work with.
Is it possible Schefter was just humoring Bruce Allen because he (like pretty much everyone now) knows Bruce Allen is a raging a-hole?
— Mark Ennis (@MarkEnnis) October 13, 2021
Others noted that the fact that these emails are putting the focus on people like Gruden and Schefter, instead of Snyder and Allen (who is directly linked to both instances), is the point.
650,000 emails from WFT and so far the only people that got nailed were Gruden and Schefter – neither of which actually worked for the team or were part of the NFL's upper power structure.
Sure, that's believable….
— Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) October 13, 2021
Goodell watching the NFL journalists tear each other apart arguing over Schefter’s journalism methods instead of wondering why this is leaking instead of anything regarding Snyder pic.twitter.com/PVfsk2p5sG
— Ethan vs. John Mara (@EthanGSN) October 13, 2021
With so many journalists digging into the story, which now includes a media ethics component, it’s likely we haven’t seen the last of this. But the NFL is being very specific about the types of emails it’s releasing and the many, many others it’s not. So whether or not we’ll ever see what Allen, Snyder, and other WFT employees had to say, remains to be seen.