ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter has been drawing heavy criticism for his interview last Tuesday with free agent defensive end Greg Hardy. Giving Hardy such a forum to attempt to redeem his image and frame perception of him, almost as it was following some sort of public relations formula, has certainly been scrutinized.
But what was especially eyebrow-raising were Schefter’s comments to Dan Patrick, saying that Hardy seemed like a “changed kind of guy” and admitting that his view of Hardy changed after their conversation. It gives the appearance of being easily swayed by Hardy, rather than looking at the entire picture of the domestic violence case against him. Even Schefter’s ESPN colleague Michelle Beadle wasn’t going for that.
For the love of f&$@. Dude doesn't admit to wrongdoing. Dude has changed? I give the hell up.
— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) April 5, 2016
As you might expect, Schefter doesn’t agree with that perception and took the opportunity to defend himself during an appearance on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Show last week. In particular, he addressed the “changed kind of guy” remark, one he said he now regrets. You can listen to the entire interview here:
“Look, we’ve all seen the persona of Greg Hardy on the sidelines and in games,” said Schefter. “That’s what I expected. OK, I should have been more precise in how I described it. That was a mistake on my part. I regret not making that more clear. But I’ve got no regrets about the interview or the questions we asked.”
For someone that has covered sports as long as Schefter has, it’s still a bit of a head-scratcher to say he presumed an athlete’s personality would resemble his on-field demeanor. It’s easy for a fan to say that. We go by what we see on TV, on the field. Even if that’s not a judgment that should be made, it’s all most people have to go on. But a reporter who has the ability to talk to these players, who has seen plenty of examples of how football players act on the field versus in the locker room or an interview setting? To be fair, Schefter was just going on what he saw too. And there has been a whole lot of ugliness associated with Hardy over the past couple of years. But it’s still a curious remark.
Schefter also balked at the idea that the interview was set up as some sort of PR opportunity for Hardy.
“I didn’t think about it like that,” Schefter said to the hosts. “I thought about the fact that we’ve got a real serious issue in our society. This guy’s never addressed any of these issues that have come up. He’s never done it one-on-one and yeah, I’m sure he came in with an agenda and so did I. That was the way I felt like I was going about this… He could have whatever agenda he wants, doesn’t matter to me. I’m going in there to get somebody who in my mind has been a controversial figure about a very serious subject to talk about it in a way that he’s never, ever addressed it before.”
Perhaps this was a no-win situation for Schefter. Outside of asking a question that upset Hardy enough for him to walk out of the interview or make him show some sort of emotion over the allegations against him, maybe he was going to be seen as soft. But Schefter also seems rather puzzled at the reaction to his interview and what he said in its immediate aftermath. Considering the controversy surrounding Hardy and the public view of him, which Schefter acknowledged, that’s somewhat surprising.