Snitches And Whistleblowers

After yesterday’s rant regarding the punishment meted out against the New Orleans Saints and their coaching staff, I received an e-mail from a former colleague who has been reading these rants since the days prior to them hitting the Internet. Here is the text of his e-mail:

“Who Dat? Who Dat? Who Dat gonna coach dem Saints? Who Dat?”

Sean Payton is in an interesting situation now. If reports are correct, Payton is making in excess of $5M a year to coach the Saints and he will be suspended for a year. On one hand, he will hope that the team does well; he has some attachments to players on the squad. On the other hand, suppose the Saints go 14-2 without him. Might that not put his $5M per year coaching status in jeopardy?

Another interesting wrinkle in this story involves Warren Sapp and his position as a studio analyst for NFL Network. On one of the NFLN programs, Warren Sapp identified Jeremy Shockey as the “snitch” – - Sapp’s word – - who kicked the snowball over the cliff and focused the league’s attention on the Saints continued bounty program.

First, consider the use of the word “snitch” here. The connotation for “snitch” is someone who violated some kind of trust and gave up information for his personal benefit. A “snitch” is usually not someone held in high regard. Compare and contrast the word “snitch” with the word “whistleblower”. A “whistleblower” is often considered to have been done a noble deed by exposing nefarious doings by others – - usually higher ups – - thereby bringing more order to the universe.

A “snitch” and a “whistleblower” are close relatives with regard to their actions. Nevertheless, we bestow honor on “whistleblowers” and scorn on “snitches”. That is the power of words…

Another interesting aspect of Sapp’s reporting lies in the report itself. Jeremy Shockey denies that he was the “snitch”. Sapp says he got it from a source that he trusts completely. The NFL says they did not talk to Shockey. Other reporting seems to point to at least one if not two other Saints as the source of information here. I will not pretend to know who let the NFL know that the bounty program was still in effect but consider:

    If that source – - whoever he is – - went to the league and the league promised him anonymity, Sapp made his report on NFL Network, which is owned by the league. That might present a dilemma for the league.

    If Shockey were not the source, it would seem to me that he would have some kind of action for slander or defamation against Sapp and against NFL Network, which is owned by the NFL. The league needs that like you need a third nostril.

This story has lots of room to run.

A step down in football from the NFL resides the Arena League and other incarnations of indoor football. You may have read snippets that players there were unhappy with their pay and some of them threatened a strike whereby the teams immediately cut the players and replaced them with people off the street. Here is summation of that labor dispute from Jerry Greene at ESPN.com:

“So what did we learn from the Arena League strike? What? You missed it? It was in all of the papers, or at least, a few of the papers. Anyway, we learned some teams eat at the Olive Garden. What do you want to bet it’s the soup and salad with bread sticks?”

The Memphis Grizzlies signed Gilbert Arenas for the rest of the 2012 season. The sub-headline for this story was:

    “They fill their need for a point guard; contract details are not available.”

There was a time when Gilbert Arenas was a good enough player that a team could overlook – - or at least put up with – - his goofiness. He has always been a “wingnut”; but in professional sports talent trumps quirkiness and randomness. That is no longer the case; Arenas’ days as a featured player in the NBA are several years in the past. In 2012, if Gilbert Arenas is “the answer”, then the question is one that has no answer.

Hines Ward was a “cap casualty” with the Steelers after 14 years with the team. Even though he says he thinks he still has “a little football in [him]”, Ward chose to retire instead of play somewhere else. He retires as the Steelers’ leading receiver is receptions, yards and TDs. In addition, there is no question that he leads the team – - if not the league – - in on-field smiles.

Bonne chance, Hines Ward.

There was a time when José Canseco was a very good baseball player. Yes, he enhanced his skills chemically; nonetheless, he was a very good player under those conditions. By the end of his career, he was a loose cannon and in his retirement, his life has been anything but stable. If you want a summary of the events in his life since retirement, check out the Wikipedia page for José Canseco.

At age 47, Canseco says he still wants to play baseball and he says that he wants to get into the coaching/managing business too. He blames his steroid use exposé for keeping him out of the game:

“I can’t get a job in Major League Baseball managing, coaching, whatever. I paid the price to tell the truth. But if it fixed the game, if it saved a kid’s life along the way, it’s worth it. It’s a constant back and forth battle. When you look at it, in the big picture, it did fix Major League Baseball. It did correct everything. I believe there is no more steroid use in baseball. It changed the game, for the better.”

To bring this rant full circle, Canseco sees himself as a “whistleblower” who has not found rewards for his noble deeds. Others see him as a “wingnut” similar to Gilbert Arenas except Canseco’s days of being a top athletic talent are 15 years ago instead of 3 years ago. It is all about perspective…

Finally, here is a commentary from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:

“LeBron’s James celebrated his 27th birthday with a party sponsored by Remy Martin V and with a five-tier, vanilla-rum cake with edible 18-karat gold lion’s heads topped by a script “LJ” of Swarovski crystals. My last birthday party was similar, except no one sponsored it and it was a Carvel ice-cream cake from Publix.

“True story: LeBron, asked what was his favorite birthday gift ever, smiled and said that on this 18th birthday someone gave him a Hummer. Let’s move on!”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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Comments

  • Rich  On March 23, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Let’s split the difference and call Jose Canseco a snitchellblower.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On March 24, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Rich:

    Great idea! How long do you think it will take until the Oxford English Dictionary adds “snitchellblower” to the language?

  • Adam  On August 8, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Interesting article, thank you for posting this! I’m looking to cover stories of individual sports whistleblowers. How would I be able to get in touch with you?

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On August 9, 2012 at 9:15 am

      Adam:

      Welcome. You just got in touch with me. Respond to this message and prove to me you are not a spammer or a spam-bot and I will give you my e-mail address for further dialog.

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