by Jordy McElroy
‘Tis the season of rumors in the NFL.
It’s that time of the year when up means down, left means right and so on. The only jingles being sung are the fatuous takes aimed at giving life to rumors started by trolls on social media. Forget about the decorative tree filled with ornaments and lights. You’d be better off putting up a web of common sense to ward off the lies that are sure to be buzzing ahead of March 18.
That isn’t to suggest every rumor that crawls out of the dark hole between fact and fiction is baseless. Agents, players and sometimes even teams trickle out tidbits of information in hopes of swaying leverage at the negotiating table.
For example, the Dallas Cowboys could leak interest in soon-to-be free agent quarterback Tom Brady in hopes of convincing Dak Prescott to come down on his asking price. A similar situation could unfold between the Tennessee Titans and Derrick Henry.
If Henry holds to the claim of Ezekiel Elliott money being the floor for his contractual demands, the Titans could either franchise tag him or leak their interest in another talented running back that could potentially come cheaper.
On the flipside, Henry’s camp could drop suggestive hints of sitting out games if the franchise tag is used, while also teasing intrigue in other running back-needy teams willing to pay more. Posturing at the negotiating table is a two-way street, and there’s sure to be plenty of that in the coming days.
Of course, the same person out there rolling their eyes at what they deem as common knowledge will be the one sharing bad rumors from terrible sources.
Mark my words.
Even some of your favorite talking media heads are unknowingly used to spread a narrative that ultimately elevates someone else’s bargaining power. It’s a commonality in sports when dealing with marquee talent.
NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard had the entire sports world eating out of the palm of his hand last summer, when making his decision to stay with the Toronto Raptors or join the Los Angeles Lakers or Los Angeles Clippers. Every talking head swore up and down he was going to the Lakers, and the Clippers virtually had little to no shot of landing him. There were helicopters, news cameras and exclusive interviews with people that supposedly knew where he was headed. He ultimately ended up choosing the Clippers, leaving media members and fans stunned.
Brady is striking a similar tune right now with his subtle play on his own free agency. He’s obviously getting a kick out of people dissecting every word and social media post in an effort to put the pieces together. “Sources close” to the situation claim he’s leaving New England one day and staying the next. There’s nothing wrong with chasing rabbits as long as you understand the game you’re playing.
You can also typically bank on a rumor coming from out of left field without an iota of truth to it whatsoever—you know, because some people just want to see the world burn. It wouldn’t be in the spirit of the holiday without at least one of those rumors.
But fun and stressful times are surely ahead. Be sure and save all of your cookies and milk to either gift them or throw them at your favorite football teams later. The fat guy in the red suit doesn’t have a shiny new playmaker for everyone. For some fans, it’s merely another year of disappointment and failed promises.
Ho, ho, ho!