It Turns Out We All Need 20 Minutes With Tim Tebow

↵So a couple days ago I compared ↵Deonte Thompson to Terrell Owens on this here site because of a quote that found its way onto a blog post by Jeremy Fowler, a Florida beat writer. This makes me equivalent to every other guy on the internet who stumbled across the quote and thought "hey, this would make good fodder for this general sports blog I'm contributing to." It's ↵just a dumb quote from a kid whose main skills lie in running very fast and waving his hand around when he's open, but it's March and I mostly write about college football. ↵

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↵Since then, new stuff has come to light: ↵

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  1. Actual video of the quote paints Thompson as a generically positive ↵⇥young man; in the same interview he called ↵⇥Tebow a "legend" and in no way meant to imply that he was glad Tebow was busy getting told to shut the f--- up at the Wonderlic. ↵⇥(Which turns out to be 0 percent ↵⇥true, by the way).
  2. ↵⇥
  3. Six or seven other Florida beatwriters were present and none of them ↵⇥chose to quote Thompson's "real quarterback" slip-up, choosing ↵⇥instead to focus on the spirit of his interview, not the letter.
  4. ↵⇥
  5. Fowler's original blog post was considerably more aggressive; it was ↵⇥edited to downplay the quote after it started picking up general sports blog traction on the internets. This breaks a cardinal rule of blogging ↵⇥ethics: don't try to cover your tracks.
  6. ↵⇥
  7. Other Florida beatwriters say the quote was a "poor, vastly overblown choice of words" and Fowler "has ↵⇥had it coming for a long time."
  8. ↵
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↵Had what coming, you probably don't ask because you've already seen it? A tightly-controlled chewing out from one Urban Meyer: ↵

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↵ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵ ↵
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↵You know what's coming ten seconds after a coach loses his cool with reporter will be a tidal wave of clucking, and this is no exception. ↵

↵Hit up Google News for a full ↵blast of indignation directed at Meyer. Specific examples from Bruce Feldman ("out of line"), Tony ↵Barnhart ("the smart coach doesn't go after the reporter who quoted the kid CORRECTLY in an attempt to intimidate the rest") are ↵among the better takes because they actually touch on whether or not Fowler did something wrong. Both, however, stop short of actually laying ↵any blame at his feet. Barnhart places the blame exclusively on people who took the quote "out of context": ↵

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↵⇥But in today's 24/7 news cycle quotes like Thompson's get picked up in the blogosphere and not everyone puts them into context. ↵⇥

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↵Lawya, please. ↵

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↵The ↵softened ↵piece is still titled "Thompson sounds happy to usher in post-Tebow era" and leads with "things are going to get better here in the future." I mean, what's more accurate: ↵"Deonte Thompson has great respect for Tim Tebow" or "Deonte Thompson thinks Tebow isn't a real quarterback"? Which ↵impression did Fowler's piece give, especially before it was edited? How ↵is that good reporting? ↵

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↵It's Fowler's job to put Thompson's quotes in context. Fowler chose to frame it in such a way that makes people think Thompson is a Terrell Owens-esque jerk, and Meyer's perfectly right to be ticked off at him. I guess it would be nice if Meyer had a sit-down talk with Fowler and gently convinced him not to be such a dillweed, but if we're talking ↵about who's really screwed up here, the conversation does not start with Urban Meyer. ↵

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↵All the blather on blogs and the "24/7 news cycle" makes it ↵more important that your original story is an accurate representation of ↵reality; if Fowler frames his story like everyone else who was there did, there is no story. Quoting a kid "accurately" is more than being a court stenographer. When someone in the media pulls out a tiny portion of a larger quote and it blows up, as the AP's Larry Lage did a year ago ↵when he quoted Rich ↵Rodriguez saying "get a life" during a four-paragraph response to a question (ensuing ↵blowup), 90 percent of the time the lack of context comes from the original ↵story. Like this one. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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