Can Reporters Be “Squealers?”May 29th, 2013
There’s been loads of local and national buzz today surrounding the possibility that the Bucs broke NFL-mandated, no-contact rules at a recent OTA practice.
ProFootballTalk.com got the ball rolling this morning jumping on Tampa Tribune beat writer Roy Cummings’ comments during an interview last week on 98.7 FM. Cummings explained that he saw hitting that may have crossed a line that could get the Bucs in hot water with the NFL.
“It’s football practice, without pads,” Cummings said. “I’ll tell you what, Greg Schiano is right on the border of getting investigated and possibly — I don’t know if they would fine him, I don’t know what the penalty is — but these guys are out there, they’re hitting. . . . There’s no pads on, but I’m telling you, the linemen, these guys are hitting. People are going down on the ground. And it’s interesting. I mean, most of this was second- and third-team guys, it wasn’t the front-line guys. So there’s a little bit of what Jon Gruden used to call ‘practice etiquette’ that I think has to be learned here, but they’re going at it pretty good.”
Cummings pointed to the Zuttah-Spence fight, and said it was a 22-man “melee” that “went on for a while” — all due to the fact that there was contact between the linemen.
“I can’t imagine it’s being ordered, I think it’s just guys being a little overzealous, trying to earn a spot,” Cummings added. “And that’s part of what this part of the season is about.”
Were Cummings’ comments out of line in any way?
Did they break an unwritten code between the Bucs and the reporters that cover them?
The dean of Tampa Bay sports radio, Steve Duemig of WDAE-AM 620, believes they did.
This afternoon, Duemig called out Cummings for sharing negative speculation on whether the Bucs are rule-breakers. Duemig said he’s no fan of media “squealers” when they’re “ratting out” the home team for no good reason.
“There are things that you report, and there are things that you don’t report. Am I wrong here?” Duemig asked his audience.
Duemig says he believes reporters need to exercise judgment with their reporting and speculation because comments like Cummings’ can cause the Bucs to limit access for all media. “When given the opportunity, why ruin it?” Duemig asked. “For crying out loud, there are some things you keep to yourself if you know it’s borderline. I believe in reporting, but in some cases when you’re allowed to watch practice … why ruin it?”
Now Joe’s a friend of Cummings and Duemig. Joe’s not taking a side here. It’s just a great debate that intrigues Joe.
Two years ago, Joe came under fire from Duemig and some fans for being a “rat” after reporting that Raheem Morris communicated with Buccaneers during the lockout. The NFL eventually punished the Bucs. Joe understood and respected Duemig’s point of view. There are observations about teams and comments from team members that all reporters leave unsaid/unwritten.
Joe also gets that Cummings simply suggested the Bucs are pushing the limits of NFL practice rules and was relaying his observations of practice — a practice the Bucs invited him to report on. Yes, the Bucs could get punished and lose valuable practice time. However, Cummings shedding light on the situation could prevent injuries and subsequently help the Bucs.
Reporters are constantly deciding what to report and what not to, and sometimes there is a greater good that is considered.
Can reporters be “squealers?” It’s an interesting question.