Yesterday, Yahoo writer Michael Silver's oral history of Tebowmania was published. We praised it for the sheer amount of reporting that went into it, but we also expressed hope that Brady Quinn's comments wouldn't be singled out—while we singled out Brady Quinn's comments. Nobody has been able to talk about anything in the GQ piece other than Quinn's comments, which is the reason they're in there in the first place.
Quinn took issue with Tebow's not-so-private prayers, saying "there's a lot of things that just don't seem very humble." He also wrote off a string of improbably Broncos comebacks as "luck."
"I regret the comments as they appeared in the article and I apologize if the comments that were in the article upset anyone," Quinn said. "I think they were taken in the wrong tone. Had I known at the time the direction the article was going to go I would not have participated in the interview at all."
Silver is also trying to clear the air, saying on Twitter that "the people ripping @BQ9 4 his comments in GQ have it wrong. He was honest & not bitter at all. We talked for 50 minutes & he was respectful." (Silver's Twitter profile photo is him with Tim Tebow, which is kind of strange.)
Honestly? That makes Silver's reporting look all the more suspect. If he and Quinn talked for 50 minutes, that's pages upon pages of notes, hundreds of quotes to choose from. Only three made it into the GQ piece, and they're all unfavorable to Tebow (though not really all that bad). It makes the piece juicier, of course, and as a narrative gives it a standard trope: the stock character of the jealous understudy. If indeed Quinn was "not bitter at all," Silver did a hell of a job making him seem like he was.
Quinn calls it a "completely inaccurate portrayal," but doesn't claim he was misquoted (Silver has a higher-than-average track record of interview subjects claiming they were misquoted). No one disputes that Quinn says what Silver writes he did. But you don't need to be misquoted to be manipulated. Selective quoting—say, taking the only three negative quotes amid 50 minutes of praise for Tebow—is just as misleading, and debatably ethical.
In the end, Silver had to make a deal with himself. He could include in his story this one aspect that would undoubtedly grab headlines. In exchange, he'd have to screw Brady Quinn and ensure that as an NFL reporter, he'd lose future access to Quinn. It sounds like a pretty easy choice to make.