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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

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April 21, 2008 9:24 AM

The Monday rant

Posted by Danny O'Neil

The offseason reduces the number of stories I write and increases the amount of reading I do. That increased reading results in some interesting discoveries. Some maddening ones, too. Some things that
probably increase my blood pressure, prompt teeth grinding or some other unhealthy habit.

So in the interest of promoting my personal health, I'm introducing a feature to the blog. The Monday Rant. Ease into the week by releasing some tension. Kind of like a pressure valve. Or a belch.

And today's subject: "Stories we don't want to hear any more about until there's more definitive resolution." To wit, that involves two stories which keep bubbling to the surface when in fact nothing of lasting significance is currently happening:

1) Chad Johnson's ongoing unhappiness with the Bengals. I don't want to hear that he's really, really, really mad and wants a trade as opposed to two weeks ago when he was just generally peeved and wanted a trade. The next step might be threatening to hold his breath until he's traded. Well, I don't want to read about that. I want to know when he's actually traded, when he shows up to work or when he starts missing game checks, but no more progress reports until then.

2) Next up, the possibility of Brett Favre's un-retirement. Well, actually, is it even possible to un-retire if you haven't missed a game yet? He walks away in a teary press conference and then we here reports his agent is asking about potential interest and then he's saying he might come back to the Packers if injuries emerged. No more information with bits and pieces. He's retired. I don't want to hear about him playing again until he says he's not retired.

Like Al Pacino in "Scent of a Woman" I'm just getting warmed up. Keep reading to get the full rant.

Information is a journalist's business so it's kind of counter-intuitive to say that too much information can be a problem. But the information superhighway can render you roadkill through sheer redundancy and repetition of a situation when not much is happening at all (see: Johnson, Chad) or the avalanche of constant and at times conflicting updates can obscure the bigger picture of what is actually happening (see: Favre, Brett).

This is not my original theory. Chuck Klosterman, a writer whose work I very much enjoy, wrote about this in Esquire a few months ago. His theory was that constant updates on a slow-developing story not informative can actually impede the understanding of a situation.

The explanation for the bombardment of news updates is simple: News agencies are very, very competitive in pursuit of big stories and with Web sites, television and radio all offering the possibility of real-time reporting, the number of updates in a single day can be staggering.

So when something happens perceived to be a big story -- like say, Ocho Cinco developing an attitude that is oh-so stinko about his employer -- there are now multiple reporters from multiple different companies doggedly pursuing any new developments, different quotes or anything not previously reported. The result: An avalanche of information delivered incrementally that doesn't do all that much to inform you about what is happening in the big picture of things.

Klosterman's summary in Esquire from September 2007 is much more succinct:

Acceleration is mostly a product of media competition. However, competition is supposed to make things better, not worse. At this point, the news cycle is so aggressive that it's thwarting its own intentions (i.e., communicating better ideas).

Now, consider that with respect to Johnson's trade tantrum, which began with his insinuation he wasn't completely thrilled with his present circumstances and progressed to a flat-out request for a trade.

"I want to continue my career wherever I have the opportunity to win a playoff game and get to the Super Bowl. That's where I want to be."
 -- Chad Johnson on ESPN's First Take, Monday, March 18, 2008
"I can't force them to trade me. I'm just trying to let them know I'm not happy."
 -- Chad Johnson to ESPN's Stuart Scott, Monday, March 24, 2008
"Nothing has changed from what I've been saying for three months that I don't want to play for the Bengals."
 -- Chad Johnson to ESPN's John Clayton, Wednesday, April 16, 2008

 

Chad's mad. Understood. Real mad in fact. Stands to reason he may even get madder with every day he stays on the Bengals roster. But I don't need any more temperature checks of a tempramental receiver to see just how mad he might feel on a given day.

At this point, I can't think of a story I want to read about involving Chad Johnson that doesn't involve one of the following four facts:

1. The Bengals have waived or traded him, thus freeing Johnson to catch passes elsewhere, go walk the Earth or do whatever might offer him fulfillment.

2. The Bengals keep him on the roster, and he chooses to stay at home for a regular-season game, missing one of the big-guy checks for real-season work. Instead of catching passes on a September Sunday, he doesn't get paid and instead spends the day buying a new gold grill for his teeth or rearranging his belly lint.

3. The Bengals keep him on the roster and he chooses to report to work. Whether he's a grump or he's glad or whatever, once he shows up to work, by all means, let me know.

4. Johnson's quest for employment freedom takes a dark turn and he takes an endangered sea turtle hostage and demands an immediate end to his Bengal tenure or he's going to make himself some soup.

Those would all constitute significant new developments. Hearing he's mad and doesn't want to be a Bengal is well established now. At this point we won't know anything more until he shows up for work or doesn't. Until then, consider me sufficiently versed in Johnson's employment drama.

Same goes for Favre's status, but for different reasons.

He's had one of the most endearing careers possible in the NFL, which is probably why he's been covered as if he were grand marshal of a parade the past three years or so. No controversy. No criticism. Just stand and applaud, please.

That's fine. He earned it and when he retired back in March, it would take some pretty deep and bitter cynicism to keep from being moved. The man is a legend. Paul Bunyan taking snaps in the shotgun formation.

Well, in early April, the Los Angeles Times reported Favre's agent was asking around NFL teams to measure their interest in trading for Favre. That triggered a bunch of stories that collectively did very little to clear up what was going on. Peter King of Sports Illustrated then interviewed Favre, who said he was not considering a return. That was followed a few days later by a story in the Biloxi Sun-Herald in which Favre said it would be "hard to pass up" an opportunity to return to the Packers if they called because of team injuries.

And after all that, I have no better idea at all of whether he will play again. In fact, I'm more confused. His agent has quietly asked about other team's interest, Favre says nothing's changed and then leaves the door open a crack. So here's my conclusion. Favre's career has reached a stated conclusion. I don't want to hear anything more about the possibilities or circumstances of a potential comeback until he says he's coming out of retirement. Until then, consider me busy.

Ahhhh. That's the sound of relief. Pressure being relieved. Now I'm ready to get on with the week.

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Posted by Huskycrash

9:45 AM, Apr 21, 2008

Didn't the establishment of these types of blogs send the information highway down this road? Don't get me wrong I love going through them and seeing what other sports fans have to say. I can also pick up on small details I might have missed in other places. I guess what I am tring to say is we have to take the bad with the good and hope the good out weighs the bad in the end.

Posted by No.12

10:28 AM, Apr 21, 2008

I can remember the days when there were no NFL updates between the Pro Bowl and draft, aside from short 2-3 sentence blurbs on free agent transactions. Then a paragraph or two during mini-camps, and finally full-coverage resumed when training camp opened.

Since ESPN, look how the draft's evolved into a showcase event. It used to be you found out the Seahawks' picks on the evening news on draft day, now coverage seemingly starts at 6 am.

I enjoy all the info, but you do need to filter it for what's relevant.

Posted by Mark WS

10:54 AM, Apr 21, 2008

Can we add the "Who is Tony Romo dating this week" watch to your list Danny?

Posted by ian

11:05 AM, Apr 21, 2008

The Erik Bedard story was another one where I'm like 'tell me when something changes' instead of the daily no change update. Sorry! I know that's not a football story!

Posted by Ziasudra

12:24 PM, Apr 21, 2008

Now that you've got rid of that burden, how about giving us your draft predictions? I don't feel like paying ESPN for theirs. . . .

(This is my second try - but - on my first try there were three previous posts, not only one. The others weren't objectionable enough to need censorship. . . .)

Posted by WEEEHAAW

2:37 PM, Apr 21, 2008

summary, not "summery"

Posted by BGR

2:38 PM, Apr 21, 2008

But, what if Chad is incrementally more upset today than he was yesterday? WE NEED GRAPHS! In three dimensions, if possible, and multiple colors.

Posted by display name

3:07 PM, Apr 21, 2008

When did "productive" become a noun?

And yes, that question is a productive of my boredom.

Posted by free beer

4:18 PM, Apr 21, 2008

Danny, did you pass gas on this blog....the ahhh (sound )of relief?
Obama, Clinton, endless worthless coverage, welcome to the new world order.

Posted by -k

5:46 PM, Apr 21, 2008

Endangered sea turtle as a hostage... threats to make soup... funny funny stuff.

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