Early in the morning, sports news outlet ESPN released their highly anticipated article on the power struggle between New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, owner Robert Kraft, and head coach Bill Belichick.
The article has been the top story of the day for newspapers and websites all around the country and has been met with extreme backlash from the Foxborough faithful.
Fans have retaliated against the writer of the article, Seth Wickersham, by tweeting their displeasure at him and even altering his Wikipedia page.
Patriots fans appear to have made some edits to Seth Wickersham’s Wikipedia page.
I. Am. Shocked.
— Henry McKenna (@McKennAnalysis) January 5, 2018
Patriots fans have been doing a number on Seth Wickersham’s Wikipedia page pic.twitter.com/VzVd7Z3whc
— Nick O’Malley (@nickjomalley) January 5, 2018
While the outcry coming from this very passionate group of Patriots fans is unsurprising to most and coming off as hostile to Wickersham, the ESPN reporter is unphased, saying that he enjoys the backlash especially because he has a family of Patriots fans.
“Well, I stand by my reporting, and it’s OK. That’s what makes it part of the fun,” Wickersham told 98.5. “My brother-in-law’s dad has been a Patriots fan since the ’60s, was a season-ticket holder then, used to go out drinking with the players after the game, and he gets in my face during Thanksgiving. So I’m totally used to it. I can just say that I’ve been doing this for a long time, and we’re always cautious with what we print. I think that’s the main thing is we want to verify things as much as possible and not just throw things out there. This was another example of that.”
Things seemed to be verified in his eyes, but unfortunately for him, the story is filled with off the record statements made by “staffers,” a word that he uses in the article 17 times.
Some of the writing has no source to back it. In the 14th paragraph of the article, Wickersham makes a claim about something Brady said, that staffers have claimed was a problem.
“”Bill’s answer to everything is to lift more weights” — a claim that many staffers and players felt was unfair, given the team’s dedication to soft-tissue science and a healthy diet.”
Other than the quote in the beginning of the sentence, there is no evidence to support this claim via a quote or a source that wouldn’t remain anonymous.
Even in this story where former backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was seeking treatment for his injured shoulder he sustained against the Miami Dolphins but was ignored by the TB12 Sports Therapy Center, Wickersham relies on unnamed staffers for his facts.
“But after Garoppolo was knocked out of his second start because of a shoulder injury, he set up a visit at TB12. As he later told Patriots staffers, when he arrived, the door was locked. He knocked; nobody was there. He called TB12 trainers but nobody answered. He couldn’t believe it, Garoppolo told the staffers, and that night ended up visiting team trainers instead. Guerrero vehemently denies ever refusing to see any player, and Garoppolo was eventually treated at TB12 — but it was two weeks after he showed up for his original appointment, and only after a high-ranking Patriots staffer called TB12 to inquire why Garoppolo hadn’t been admitted.”
Wickersham again says staffers many times, but how would he know all of this information. Who are these staffers? Did he speak to the San Francisco 49er’s starting quarterback himself? We as the viewing audience and reporters of the team will indeed never know. Could this be true? Absolutely. But there’s reasonable evidence to prove that it is indeed false.
To add to the TB12 aspect of things, Wickersham reported as well that after speaking to close friends with the quarterback, they said Brady had changed and is now not the person they thought he was.
“The way TB12 began to creep into Brady’s life worried people close to the QB, many of whom were suspicious of Guerrero. “Tom changed,” says a friend of Brady’s. “That’s where a lot of these problems started.””
Again. Who is this friend? How does a “friend” know about what goes on at another friends place of work?
While there are loose ends in this story, one can’t help but think to themselves that if you put these claims together, some of the rumors swirling of tension between the big three in Foxborough would make sense now.
But a great motto to live by is “don’t believe what you hear unless it’s from the horse’s mouth.”
Indeed the “horse” spoke as Brady, Belichick, and Kraft released a joint statement just a few hours ago to rebut the claims made in the article saying that all is well and that they are as unified as ever.
“For the past 18 years, the three of us have enjoyed a very good and productive working relationship. In recent days, there have been multiple media reports that have speculated theories that are unsubstantiated, highly exaggerated or flat-out inaccurate. The three of us share a common goal. We look forward to the enormous challenge of competing in the postseason and the opportunity to work together in the future, just as we have for the past 18 years. It is unfortunate that there is even a need for us to respond to these fallacies. As our actions have shown, we stand united.”
There are always, however, three sides to every story. One side, the other, and the truth. Is what Wickersham wrote the truth? Or is what the three wrote in their joint statement and what Patriots fans are thinking which is nothing is wrong the truth?
One may never know.