Amidst the breaking news of the Saints bounty punishments being handed down Wednesday, one of the weirder subplots was NFL Network’s Warren Sapp attempting to out the “snitch” that reported the Saints bounty program to the NFL. Sapp fingered former Saints TE Jeremy Shockey, cut by New Orleans after the 2010 season, on his Twitter account. Shockey found success with the Saints, catching the winning TD in Super Bowl XLIV, but left New Orleans on less than friendly terms.
Sapp and Shockey engaged in a brief Twitter convo with Shockey denying he was the one that outed the bounty program after Sapp answered in the affirmitave to someone tweeting him a guess that it was the oustspoken tight end…
Shockey then went on to actually challenge Sapp to a lie detector test to prove his “innocence” as the situation went from strange to surreal. I’m not sure about the practicality of it being on ESPN though…
Several voices spoke up in defense of Shockey or whoever the whistleblower was – and rightly so (although most didn’t use the same colorful language Vikings punter Chris Kluwe did). To place any sort of blame or anger on that person is extremely misguided. The whistleblower/snitch did the right thing. The Saints are the ones that took part in this unethical, hurtful program and have nobody but themselves to blame.
So for an analyst on the NFL NETWORK to cause a controversy about the identity of this person is crazy. And for any person to do so as recklessly as Warren Sapp did on Twitter is just asinine. Warren Sapp is not Adam Schefter. He’s not a reporter. He’s not in the business of breaking news, and may not have even done so correctly in this case…
Sapp threw a name out into the Twitterverse. To do that considering the magnitude of the story is an unconscious decision. And for the NFL Network to parade Sapp and his mystery sourcing out on the air as part of the bounty punishment discussion is a serious misstep.
Sapp’s tweet doesn’t call for the hysteria that Mike Florio continually tries to stir up at Pro Football Talk about mentally imbalanced Saints fans taking matters into their own hands like the kidnappers in Celtic Pride or Ray Finkle. However, both Sapp and the NFL Network need to be held to account for this error in judgment.
(By the way, as the story evolves from the Saints bounty punishments being brought down, prepare for an unprecedented amount of moral grandstanding coming from all corners of the football universe while the larger issues can be swept back under the rug. The media can pay their tributes to NFL Supreme Lord And Dictator Commissioner Roger Goodell for bringing the evil ones to justice while turning a blind eye to his authoritarian power as judge, jury, executioner, appeals court, savior of American football, and protector of all that is right and good in the world.)
Sapp represents the league working for their network. It is blatantly irresponsible for the league itself – through Sapp and NFLN – to turn a negative focus on the potential player or team representative that brought on the league investigation. The act of snitching may have its own connotations, especially in NFL locker rooms, but the truth simply had to come out in this case. For Sapp to try to play Inspector Clouseau in this case is not only totally unnecessary, it’s totally wrong.
If the whistleblower is indeed Shockey, Sapp has done an enormous disservice to individuals who may be motivated to do the right thing when they see something wrong happening. If it isn’t Shockey, then Sapp has a lot to answer to for his inaccurate reporting and irresponsibility in pushing to expose whoever this person may be. In either case, his behavior is being endorsed by the NFL through its television network.