by Kent Sterling
It’s usually understandable when people treat the media with indifference. We can be a pain in the ass – all those questions when coaches and players want to prepare for an upcoming game or relax.
But the media are mostly easily satisfied folks paid to inform fans about their favorite – a marketing arm for a franchise and individual brands that drive wealth for the very people who hold them in such low regard.
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A reasonable answer will pass muster with the media, and no one expects a coach like Chuck Pagano to predict the future. When Pagano is asked whether quarterback Andrew Luck is going to play Thursday night, no one expects an absolute response if the necessary data has not been (or can’t be) compiled.
Here is a transcript of the portion of yesterday’s Pagano press conference that deals with Luck’s health:
Were you able to tell anything from what Andrew Luck did today? Did he work out separately?
“He looked good. He’s moving in the right direction. Trending in the right direction. So a lot better than he was Saturday morning.
Did he throw much today?
“He had a good day. He had a good day today.
Is that a yes or no though?
“He had a good day today.
Is the goal seeing in the next couple days him possibly playing on Thursday?
“No different than it was. The goal was to try and see if he would be available for yesterday’s ballgame and it just didn’t work out that way. So still a goal to try to get him ready to go for this game.
Are you pretty confident that he made some progress and strides from where he was on Saturday morning?
“Yeah, because he came in and felt really good this morning. He felt really good. No setbacks. Again, he’s trending in the right direction.
Do we read anything into the release of Josh Johnson leaving just two quarterbacks on the active roster?
“That’s up to you.
Was that decision related to Andrew’s health?
“Again, that’s up to you guys to figure that one out. You guys are a lot smarter than I am.”
Media is Indianapolis are reasonable compared to most cities. No one tries to paint Pagano, Frank Vogel, Larry Bird, Tom Crean, or Chris Holtmann into a corner and make them appear stupid. This group of media is worthy of respect and deserve reasonable answers to good questions.
Last week, Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel asked Pagano whether Luck was in the state of Indiana, Pagano dismissed it as “the craziest question” he’s ever been asked in his football career.
When Fox 59’s Chris Hagan reported that Luck had been examined by out of state physicians, Doyel’s question stopped being crazy. Hagan is from Alabama, preeminent shoulder doc James Andrews is from Alabama, and Luck has a dinged shoulder – draw your own conclusions.
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Telling us that Luck was examined by Dr. Andrews hurts nothing. Telling us that Luck is throwing or not hurts nothing. Relentlessly telling us “He had a good day,” burns through whatever good will remains between Pagano and the media because it shows a lack of respect.
The best kind of respect is mutual, and unless Pagano decides very soon that sharing pertinent facts is not going to corrupt the Colts ability to succeed on the field he stands to lose a very important asset as he fights for his job during a season that could break in any number of directions.
Like our parents always tell us, “when in doubt, tell the truth.” Or at least something that sounds like the truth.
Coaches owe the media nothing, but talking to them like children gets the attention of the media and can turn them surly, and that’s one thing Pagano does not need.
Excellent work as always my good man. Well done! I would just briefly like to add one thing, and conscious or sub-conscious, media figures (particularly local media figures where local fans are concerned) are not only paid to report on topics of interest to their readership, but also serve as de facto extensions of the fan themselves.
My point being, when Chuck, Grigson, Irsay or anyone else of stature within the Colts organization treats a polite, professional media member asking a very fair, reasonable question like a petulant child, dismissing them with backhanded insults and / or meaningless platitudes, it not only disrespects the media professional, it disrespects the fan, and whether intended or not, demonstrates an utter disdain for fans who take these matters very seriously, some of whom who also spend countless thousands of dollars supporting this team both emotionally as well as economically.
One of Chuck’s comments from last week serves as a good example of what I’m trying to illustrate. It was a comment about the media “acting like a bunch of scared birds”, or words to that affect, referring to the barrage of questions regarding Andrew Luck’s health and injury. I found this offensive, not because he owes anyone medical details, but because of his dismissive, mocking tone towards you and your fellow professionals.
The local media is a direct extension of the local fan, and a conduit by which local fans obtain current information on a brand / organization that they are asked to embrace, win, lose or draw, and to commit significant financial resources in the course thereof, and to be dismissive and mocking of these same fans by extension through the local media is, as you so eloquently put it, “bad policy” and very bad business, especially in our current economy, and in such a unique industry that enjoys not only an effective monopoly on its product, but that also expects (and more often than not, receives) significant public subsidies in addition to direct economic subsidies and ongoing, diverse revenue streams via fan ticket purchases, ridiculously priced concessions, merchandise sales, parking fees and cable television packages.
Reduced to its simplest form, Chuck and company would be much better served to stop biting the very hands that feed them, and to recognize that their brand and that of their organization is often viewed by the fan first and foremost through the prism of the viewpoint of their favorite local media member(s), which begins with said media member(s)’s treatment by team executives and coaches.