You get what you pay for. And the “worldwide leader in sports” just spent close to $100 million on two men that took Ricky Bobby’s father’s words a little too seriously.
A few weeks ago, it was announced that ESPN had re-signed Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski as their lead insiders for the NFL and NBA, respectively. Both men reportedly signed five-year deals, as Schefter will make around $9 million per year, with Woj earning approximately $7 million per year. However, over the weekend, the pair showed how the race to be first with news in “sports journalism” (I used quotations because Woj and Schefter aren’t journalists) has evolved into a problematic competition that lacks any regard for the subject’s humanity.
“Dwayne Haskins, a standout at Ohio State before struggling to catch on with Washington and Pittsburgh in the NFL, died this morning when he got hit by a car in South Florida, per his agent Cedric Saunders. Haskins would have turned 25 years old on May 3,” is what Schefter wrote, in a tweet he’d soon delete, when he broke the news that a human being had lost their life.
A network that partners with the NFL is paying their insider $45 million to mention that a man that played quarterback in the league “struggled on the field” before informing us that he’s no longer with us. This is what happens when Black bodies and athletes are only viewed as objects of entertainment and not human beings with friends and families. But, let’s not act like this isn’t who Schefter has become, as he’s often the cause of controversy for how terrible he is at his job. This is the same man that was tweeting like he was part of Deshaun Watson’s defense team, fumbled Dalvin Cook’s domestic violence incident, and once called a team president, who was his source, “Mr. Editor.” He’s also the same guy who once tried to minimize the importance of Election Day in 2020 in a tweet about the NFL trade deadline, only for the U.S. Capitol to be attacked less than three months later due to the ramifications of that election.
It’s a thing that people like Schefter are immune to, as it feels like there are never any consequences for their actions. We may get an apology tweet here and there, and there could be a suspension that takes place behind the scenes that isn’t reported, but none of that means anything when your employer pays you a salary that screams” keep up the good work,” despite how “ungood” your work might be.
That mentality is what allowed what happened on Sunday night in Denver, when former Lakers head coach Frank Vogel found out from reporters that he was indeed a former Lakers head coach when he was asked about it during the team’s final postgame press conference, after Woj tweeted his unemployment before he was notified.
“I haven’t been told shit,” said Vogel.
While it had been presumed that Vogel was done after this season and rumors had swirled for months, Twitter finding out that you’re fired before your bosses tell you is a new low. But, this is the Lakers we’re talking about. A franchise that has endured their best player quit as team president in an impromptu press conference outside of the locker room as players were walking in just three years ago.
However, as messy as the Lakers have been, Woj doesn’t work for them. And while we know he got his information from someone within the organization, it doesn’t mean he had to share it before Vogel found out.
There’s a difference between breaking news and creating it. And what we saw this weekend was the latter, as Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski became the news instead of just reporting it. Every journalist would love to be first when it comes to breaking a huge story, but the smart, and good, ones understand that being second and right is always better than being first and incorrect. And in the case of Schefty and Woj, it appears they’d rather be ethically wrong and rich.