Thursday saw the news of Deshaun Watson’s settlement with the NFL for an 11-game suspension and a $5 million fine. But that news broke in an unexpected way. Rather than appearing through the Twitter feed of a league “insider” like ESPN’s Adam Schefter or NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, it showed up from Joseph Pasteris, whose Twitter feed describes him as an “Independent Patriots/NFL reporter.” Like many others, Pasteris has access to the league communications portal, NFLcommunications.com. And that led to him posting the screenshot of the release before any “insider” did:
— Joseph Pasteris (@PasterisSports) August 18, 2022
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk did some digging into this on Thursday:
That’s when, apparently, a guy named Joseph Pasteris logged into the NFL Communications website and struck gold. It was the ultimate right place/right time moment, with the press release announcing the 11-game suspension and $5 million fine posted for the world to see.
By 11:50 a.m. ET, we’d confirmed from a source with knowledge of the deal that the terms as reported were accurate, that the press release wasn’t an elaborate hoax.
There were clunky efforts to push back from some of those who presumably had been in line to get the standard five-minute head’s up before the official announcement was posted. Schefty, for example, was pointing out on the air that Watson had yet to actually sign the agreement. Before that could even begin to register, it was clear that the deal was done.
And on Friday, Florio broke more news on just how that happened:
The news of the negotiated 11-game suspension and $5 million fine for Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson emerged not because of a strategic leak five minutes before publication to a league employee or a broadcast-partner insider who has achieved most-favored-nation status.
It happened by accident.
The NFL has confirmed that the news came from the accidentally premature release of the information on the league’ communications portal.
“An issue arose during the preparation of the release that was to be published on and distributed via nflcommunications.com,” the NFL told PFT via email. ‘We have taken steps to ensure this does not happen again.”
This is actually a pretty excellent outcome, however. First off, it shows off how so much of the news from those “insiders” (who carry plenty of questions of their own) is only news because of selected leaks to them before releases go up on the portal. Second, it fits into the fine tradition of unusual figures getting key news, from Redditors KatyPerrysBootyHole and wetbutt23 to FredTheDog04 to Marcus Stroman to Mike Tice. So kudos to Pasteris for being on the league portal at exactly the right time. It may not be how the almighty NFL intended to leak the news, but it’s a notable way to see that happen.