The one where Florio manufactures a controversy

Devotees to this website will quickly learn that we cast a skeptical eye to our fellow writers who seem to relish each and every opportunity to enhance their own celebrity and become yet another “personality” of the Trent-Dilfer-Mark-Schlereth cast. Thus, Profootballtalk’s evil dwarf and high school yearbook nerd Mike Florio, who I reluctantly admit has been right about a few things, (just as stopped watches go) is doing his damnedest to create a controversy out of Peyton Manning’s decision to pull rank with former Denver Broncos quarterback Frank Tripucka and wear his formerly retired number 18 when he begins the 2012 NFL season under the knife center for the Broncos.

No fewer then three posts appeared in a single day criticizing Manning for donning the retired number on PFT. It’s not that Florio doesn’t have a point, he does, but athletes are superstitious people (Michael Jordan abandoned number 45 by like the third quarter of his first game back) and Elway would have probably sold his first-born into the Sierra Leone diamond mining trade just to get rocket-lazer-arm in Denver for next season.

Most likely to annoy me into posting this article:

If it goes against everything Manning believes in, then he should have politely declined. I’m sure if Manning had been wearing No. 7 since 1998, John Elway would “really want” Manning to wear Elway’s number, too. That doesn’t make it right.


Indeed, it flies in the face of the entire concept of retiring numbers. If a number is retired, it’s retired. The person for whom the number was retired should have no say in the matter; part of the honor is that the topic of unretiring the number should never be broached.

It’s the Catalina wine mixer! People have literally killed to be in this position!

In this case, the skids were greased last week, when reporters began contacting Tripucka and asking him about whether the number would be dusted off for Manning. What would anyone expect Tripucka to say? ”No, it’s mine . . . and while we’re on the topic get off my lawn”?

To his credit, Tripucka acted charitably. But he never should have been placed in that position.

Fair point. Then again, Tripucka probably saw the Patriots game.

In the end, the Broncos are the custodians of the team’s numbers.

So then why do you even care? As soon as Manning goes down he’ll go under the knife again, retire for good, and 18 in Denver will belong to Tripucka again. Does this really matter?

And to those of you who think that Tripucka has manipulated this situation merely to get his name back into circulation after nearly 50 years of obscurity, keep two things in mind. First, he’s 84. Second, he has Alzheimer’s.

Has anyone said that? Also, although it is truly unfortunate it’s not like he’s giving Manning power of attorney, or buying volcano insurance from Manning. Also, the insinuation that the Broncos or Manning are taking advantage of Tripucka in his current state is deeply misleading since Mrs. Tripucka says her husband would feel honored.

Manning is going to wear a number for the Broncos for a couple seasons (if he’s supremely lucky) and then it will come down again. If nobody seems to care, then why do you care so much?

Mike Florio calls off the witch hunt that he created

Lobotomy-candidate and ordained asshole Mike Florio should be proud of himself. Only someone with a true absence of any integrity whatsoever would initiate a story about a hardrunning, Jesus-loving, truck towing, football player sitting out a game after losing 10-12 lbs. and flip it into an act of defiance in the midst of brutal contract negotiations. And then, in a culmination of his own efforts to cast doubt on the temerity of that player, and potentially irreparably harm the mutual hope at securing a deal, simply withdraw from the story.

To recap, Florio speculated on the story of Browns runningback Peyton Hillis sitting out a game because of strep throat. He specifically suggested that Hillis was sitting out the game, at least in part, because he was not signed to a long-term deal by the Browns. A few days later, ESPN evil leprechaun Adam Schefter offered a report by “anonymous sources” that said that teammates in the Browns locker room believed that Hillis was sitting out the game due to his contract negotiations not going well. Florio cited that report, and made no attempt to connect his speculative analysis preceding the report.

Florio then sent another note reporting on an appendectomy that Browns Center Alex Mack had the evening after a losing effort by the Browns against the Tennessee Titans. Florio took the story as an opportunity to remind his readers that Hillis had sat out with mere strep throat. Florio followed up that “report” with one that Hillis’ agent advised him not to play based on his illness, fanning the flames of a controversy that Florio created.

Rebutting anonymous sources, former Browns headcoach Eric Mangini completely refuted the notion that Hillis would sit out for a new deal, mentioning how Hillis continued to play despite injuries late last season. Current Browns head coach Pat Shurmur echoed that sentiment; along with teammates Greg Little, and Josh Cribbs. Hard to compete with “anonymous sources,” but it’s close.

Browns President Mike Holmgren has already admitted that they were working hard to sign Hillis to a long-term deal; and Hillis has never wavered from his desire to stay in Cleveland. When players sign new agents, the agents want to negotiate a new deal for the player because otherwise the agent doesn’t get paid, makes sense, right? Also, why not strike while the iron is hot. Still, Hillis had a great season last year, but injuries, and the lack of imagination slowed down his production towards the end of the season. Therefore, to what advent is it for him to sit out a game when another runningback who the Browns also really like, could be challenging him for playing time?

This level of speculation is apparently void from the creative mind of Mike Florio; who shoots first and never asks questions.

Finally, on Oct. 8, after planting the initial question that Hillis must be engaging in a negotiating tactic; Florio backpedaled quicker then Derrelle Revis with this little bit of “analysis:”

So even though it became a big story (especially in Cleveland), it’s apparently a non-story. Indeed, if the Browns had any reason to believe that Hillis didn’t play because of his contract, would team president Mike Holmgren agree to continue to have discussions on a long-term deal, at least until Hillis regains the franchise’s trust? We don’t think so.

Why do that when you can sit in your cozy New York office and just pontificate to the masses. Nice job creating a story, perpetuating a falsehood, and then declaring it to be a “nonstory.” You suck.

Mike Florio tells you how to interpret the news

NBC was once a proud network in the days of Seinfeld and even Friends. But then NBC greenlit Joey, and Outsourced, and then they went through a very public divorce from Conan O’Brien, and well…it’s not been a good couple of years.

So now NBC is trying desperately to become the new home of all football news and as part of that mission/goal, they are giving unbearable, leprechaun, douche-fanboy Mike Florio more air and webtime. To his credit, Florio has turned his basic website,, into a mini-empire. Dick Ebersol rarely misses on anything, so why would this be any different, right?

(fart noise)

Why, Florio is even appearing on television with Peter King! Florio also likes to try to create stories, or put his own spin on them. He also loves to brag about his influence in the industry.

In March 2010, after the NFL combine, Florio erroneously reported that Tim Tebow called for a prayer before the Wonderlic test and that someone told him to “Shut the F— up.”

Last January 2011, Florio lashed out at Packers QB Aaron Rodgers for allegedly ignoring a cancer-survivor fan who was seeking his autograph at the airport. Florio helped build the story through his site, and then when all the facts came out he walked it back, to his credit, like a man.

In March, while the lockout was going on, Florio predicted total calamity unless the parental NFL was restarted to keep their irresponsible adult-age players from committing unspeakable crimes.

A few weeks back, after week 1, Florio planted the idea that Matt Ryan was a choke artist, and that Ryan was going to shit the bed against the Eagles at home in the Georgia dome. That didn’t happen, and Florio didn’t say a word.

Now Florio is claiming that Peyton Hillis, the Madden coverboy and Jesus freak, sat out last Sunday’s victory over the winless-Miami Dolphins with strep throat over a contract extension that the Browns and Hillis’ representation are working to get done, despite evidence that Hillis, well, had strep throat and was sent home.

Though many will point to the Madden curse as a reason for Hillis missing a game due to a case of strep throat, we’re more inclined to wonder whether Hillis’ unwillingness to play was influenced in any way by the lack of a new contract. Hillis continues to earn the fourth-year minimum of $600,000. If the team had made a long-term commitment with a big-money bonus, would Hillis have been more willing to give it a try?

Maybe Hillis lost those 10-12 lbs. over the stress of negotiating a new contract with the Browns. Or maybe Florio just sucks.

Remember that scene in “Revenge of the Nerds” when Hiroshi is collecting all the Alpha Beta’s sweaty jocks after practice and Stan Gable pulls his over Takashi’s head. That’s Florio, except he went home and made a snow angel in them. Then called Stan’s house and breathed heavy into the phone.

That above caption seems to constitute reporting for most major sports news outlets’ NFL coverage these days. To that, I say, “C’mon people, give it a rest.” This is all akin to being that annoying commenter who always has to chime in with “FIRST” and has nothing else to say. No one likes it and you are contributing nothing to the conversation. You are just filling up empty space with more empty space.

Granted, its partially the sports fan’s fault. These guys have made their living reporting rumors and guesses that they get from their sources inside the NFL and most people eat up that sort of “news”, but this is getting ridiculous. Its not even news anymore. Its “newsish”. You have sources, they say its close to ending, we get it, let us know when it is actually over.

Guess what, I have sources too, my sources say the NFL lockout will continue until it they lift the lockout. We will all pretty much know at the same exact time when the lockout actually ends.  Being first will not matter one bit. No career will be made by announcing the lockout is over first. A press conference will be called and Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen, Jay Glazer, Mike Florio and a thousand other mouthbreathers will tweet and write up a 4 line blog post as fast as they possibly can just so they can be first.

I’m just sick of seeing John Clayton or Schefter on TV telling me random dates of when the lockout will end and then laying out a schedule of events if what they are saying happens. Suddenly all NFL reporters are Nostradamus. This is not reporting. This is guessing. Newsish.

Look, just give it a break. We all know the owners and the players are close to a deal thanks, in some part, to your somewhat accurate reporting. I say somewhat because most these reporters have been saying the lockout was close to ending for the better part of a month now and reality has finally caught up to their guesses and rumor spreading. Congrats guys. Way to keep up those journalistic standards.

But really, cut this shit out please. Just tell us the facts and stop your guessing.

Reading Between the Headlines

The return of football season brings back to focus a lot of things, but most notably, the blustery sportscaster.  For some odd reason, FOOTBALL may only be announced in LOUD VOICES by GUYS who speak in run-on sentences while GRUNTING.  While I love football, I’m not sure I can take another season of Chris Berman gesticulating his way through a stream of highlights or Jon Gruden speaking in coach talk for an entire season.  There’s got to be someone better.  Nevermind.

And one other thing: Berman, I don’t normally like you, but for one reason or another, the moustache looks oddly right.  Bonus points for helping kill an emerging hipster trend.  On to this very special football-only edition of headlines: