The Rush To Condemnation

The Kansas City Chiefs have had their share of controversy in the last couple of weeks.  For a team that strives to keep that kind of thing on the down low, having so much negative media attention in such a short period of time is a bit unusual.  It's timing in terms of NFL seasons was also unfortunate.  The entire sports media just had to go through four and a half months with very little to report on besides the lockout, and as you remember, that was the same boring question day after day.  It's no surprise that when a good controversy rears it's head in these times those same media take the ball and run with it.  Sensationalism sells. Ever wonder why bad news dominates the daily excretions we get from that media?  Simple.  That is what brings the readers back for more day after day.

The problem with all this occurs when that media grabs hold of a headline and embellishes it (sans proper verification) in an effort to 'be the first' with the story with little regard for the accuracy of that oh so important tidbit that no one else has.  In today's virtual news store where information can be very nearly instant, coupled with an unrealistic consumer expectation of instant gratification, the urge (nay the NEED) to get that info out there at lightning speed seems to often outweigh the importance of verifying the source.  

I have no doubt whatever that if a Chiefs equipment manager so desired, they could 'confide' in a media member something nasty about a player that was totally unfounded, and yet see that rumor make a virtual front page somewhere.  Because of the internet effect on the proliferation of news, fans today have to be very careful about who they trust for their information.  I will be the first to tell you that I have no connections to the Chiefs and no source for inside information.  I, like the vast majority of fans, get my Chiefs news from varied sources.  Most, if not all, of them are online.  What I do not do is allow myself to be spoon fed that news with no attempt to read it with a skeptical eye.  If you allow yourself to do that my friends, you are merely joining in on the Rush To Condemnation. 

Two instances in the last week that have made for Chiefs controversy are the Thomas Jones/Jon Baldwin affair and Todd Haley being accused of showing his displeasure to Coach Harbaugh over the Ravens supposedly running up the score in our last preseason game.  Both of these items are fair examples of the rush to condemnation.  As soon as these 'stories' hit the air waves, we had Chiefs fans galore breaking commentor silence and banging away at their keyboards with their disgust at these 'awful' displays of infighting and poor sportsmanship.  

The wave of distaste was created and grown on nothing more than the media sensationalizing these issues (ad infinitum as is the internet wont) without proper confirmation of WHY they occurred.  Frankly, with a fan base as skeptical as the Chiefs have, I expect more.  In fairness, there are a few fans who do ask that question.  Maybe to the majority of them, it's just not important enough to comment on and that's why the response seems skewed to the side of those who are willing to believe the worst about our team and it's coaches, management and owners.  I still sit in awe sometimes of the ease with which these reporters can strike a common enough chord with enough fans to start the march of the lemmings to the sea.  Reading the comments here when this stuff occurs puts one in mind of the villagers with pitchforks and torches encroaching on Frankenstein's Castle.

Thomas Jones and Jon Baldwin have had some kind of disagreement/scuffle/fight. I think most here would agree that something did indeed happen. What we really don't know is why. Even with this latest information that Chris provided this morning.

Now on 610 Sports Radio @ravensinsider reports Chiefs WR Jonathan Baldwin broke his thumb in weight room altercation with Thomas Jones. After Jones sucker-punched Baldwin following verbal sparring. And the incident apparently started when Baldwin took "exception to so called rookie hazing and wanted to stand his ground." Wilson added: The incident with Jones followed some type of verbal altercation between Baldwin and Jamaal Charles.

The Rush To Condemnation here took many forms.  Many jumped immediately on the 'Baldwin is a diva' bus.  There was a statement made by the 'press' that veteran player(s) were confirming that he was acting diva-ish.  Who said it and what was their intent?  Who knows, it's just another in a long line of unsubstantiated comments that the media uses to gain readership. Others began to question Thomas Jones's involvement.  I have seen the reports that Jones has had altercations with other players over the years.  The one I find most ridiculous to use as an example is Cedric Benson.  Benson was REPLACED by Jones because of injury/under performance in Chicago.  I can bet there was a bit of a confrontational relationship created by that.  In addition, Cedric Benson seems to get routinely arrested for breaking various laws here in the Austin area most off seasons.  I ask you, is that the kind of 'just minding his own business' type player you would give the benefit of the doubt to? The point is that here too, we don't know the WHY.  

Others still seemed to echo an idea that the organization was to blame for 'allowing' this to happen.  Most of the reports that I have seen start off with something about how this kind of thing happens all the time in locker rooms and that if it hadn't been for the injury we would have known nothing about it.  Would Chiefs fans opinions about Baldwin been affected negatively if this had happened without the injury?  I'll bet the answer to that is no because it would not have left the locker room.  It would not have made the altercation any less real, but it would have prevented the fans from knowing about it.  Yet here we are with a good portion of the fans now believing that all the predraft hype on JB was totally true and he is going to be a problem.  He very well may be a problem going forward and then again, he may not.  The reality is that sensationalizing this has just made JB's lot in life more difficult.  Now, he not only has to fight to learn how to be a complete NFL player, he has to fight an uphill battle to win the hearts and minds of one of the toughest fan bases in the NFL in terms of giving that support. Chiefs fans are tough on their team in that regard.

Now we get to the Todd Haley incident.  I had a disagreement with another fan here in a thread about what happened after the Baltimore game.  We both witnessed the same thing.  The other fan is convinced that Haley 'acted like a baby'.  Matt Conner wrote a ridiculously scathing story where in he supported Harbaugh and showed his disdain for Coach Haley's actions.  I'm sorry, but I just didn't see the evidence of this.  What I saw was a coach that just came out on the losing side of the game, run across the field and acknowledge the other coach just like he has umpteen times before.  There was no finger wagging, no yelling and no throwing of a fit.  

Somehow though, other fans are simply convinced that Todd Haley acted like a immature punk and showed poor sportsmanship.  It just isn't true.  Go back and look at what actually happened.  Harbaugh's mouth is already running before Haley is even in earshot.  Haley even told him he couldn't understand what he said.  By Harbaugh's own admission, HE was apologizing for the way he finished the game.  Haley said nothing about it until Harbaugh prompted a response.  What exactly could Haley have done here to ward off the fans that think he acted improperly?  Give Harbaugh a big 'ol hug and say no harm no foul?  What for?  Haley apparently didn't give a rip about what Harbaugh and the Ravens did, but Harbaugh just couldn't let it go.  He was feeling guilty for the way he coached his team.

Harbaugh was the one that went into the post game presser and immediately stated that he wanted to apologize to the Chiefs if they felt he was running up the score.  Until that point, that accusation hadn't been made by anybody except those covering the game.  Interestingly, it was mentioned by Holthus and Dawson AND the rest of the group in the Ravens broadcast group. Haley was the ONE PERSON that didn't say a word about it.  I ask you, who made this news?  It appears to me that Harbaugh did.  Then why did Haley catch so much flack for something he didn't do?  It's called the Rush To Condemnation, and many a fan participated in the flood.

One other small point here is the 'so called' report that the Chiefs were going to address the Jones/Baldwin incident after the Ravens game.  Initially the reports sounded as if the confirmation of this came from the Chiefs front office in the form of a nod from Hunt or Pioli.  After the media didn't get the confirmation they were looking for, Gretz went public critizing Hunt, Pioli and his MINIONS for not following through with their 'promise'.  The thing to think about here is, just exactly who told the fans that this issue was going to be addressed by the club after the game?  Funny, it was the same group of 'media experts' that couldn't get the details of the incident to begin with.  Do you think that there was some manipulation going on here by the Chiefs?  Personally, I think it is hilarious and the fact that it drove Bob Gretz to write one of the longest sour grapes pieces he's ever done shows it hit the mark.  

Basically, what bothers me most about this stuff is that so many Chiefs fans are willing to believe the absolute worst about our team and it's organization, without simply asking themselves the question of whether or not the info they are digesting is true.  The circumstances of these kinds of things rarely are as cut and dried as they are made to appear.  The media does what is has to do to make a living.  Chiefs fans should do what they have to do in an effort to support their team and it's coaches, management and Owner.  They are OUR team and thus deserve the benefit of the doubt until they are proven false.  When that happens, I will be right there along side the lynch mob looking for payback for the betrayal.  Until then, take what you read with a grain of salt, ask yourself how they know this to be true and consider that there just might be another explanation. This is OUR TEAM folks!  We shouldn't be willing to throw them under the bus just because somebody with a bully pulpit makes a noise. 

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