Pat Kirwan and the Hilarious Ignorance Of Generalizations
All generalizations are inherently false to some degree, but some are so hilariously ignorant and mean-spirited that it’s hard to put into words. Last night, Pat Kirwan of Sirius XM Radio and CBS Sports dropped this nugget on Twitter.
Tim Ryan & I are tired of all the fake FB guys evaluating players.They never played coached or worked in the NFL.. enough&stop listening!!
— Pat Kirwan (@PatKirwanCBS) May 24, 2012
Now, I like Kirwan and respect the heck out of him. His book, “Take Your Eye off the Ball” is a seminal work of football writing in our generation and his experience on every level of the game gives him insight that few have and he transitioned well onto the media side of things which can’t always be said about the brightest people in the game.
That said, he is terribly wrong here and should be ashamed for denigrating an entire group of people he actually knows very little about.
The tremendous irony here is that Kirwan’s book is entirely about putting the tools he acquired in the NFL into the hands of the common person. He even points out that the fans of the game have been subjected to the lowest-level analysis possible for years as commentators (many former players themselves, including Ryan) fail to explain the nuances of the game.
It’s also relevant to point out where Kirwan works. Over at CBSSports.com/NFL, guys like Pete Prisco, Clark Judge and Michael Freeman are all respected for their work around the game of football, Kirwan would consider all of them “fake FB guys.” The Eye On NFL blog is staffed by “fake FB guys” like Will Brinson, Josh Katzowitz and Ryan Wilson–all highly respected and all know the game. CBS’ draft team or Rob Rang and Dane Brugler are as good as they come and provide draft analysis for all members of the PFWA at the Combine.
Over at Sirius, Adam Schein, Bob Papa, Alex Marvez and Ralph Vacchiano have just as strong of a voice as Kirwan and Ryan and bring things to the table that duo never could.
It boils down to this. Are there things former NFL coaches and players bring to the game that journalists, bloggers and others don’t? Certainly. But to make a blanket statement that all analysts who didn’t play the game are inferior is silly. Everyone and their brother would rather listen to guys like Mel Kiper, Chad Reuter, Wes Bunting and Matt Miller about the NFL Draft than Deion Sanders. How much does Matt Millen really know about running an NFL team (rather than running it into the ground.) Are we really supposed to believe that the cup of water Mike Mayock had in the NFL prepared him for NFL Network and NFL.com more than the years of media training and countless hours of film study?
Isn’t this the same thing journalists said over a decade ago when blogs were new? At that time, journalists were probably more correct than not as the community of citizen journalists and amateur analysts was new and had lots of growing up to do. Today, many papers have embraced the blog format (the PFWA even has an award for it) and a blogger like Mike Florio can appear weekly on NFL broadcasts.
In the end, great NFL content–writing, video, audio–comes from lots of different places and from lots of different walks of life. Social media has largely broken down the barriers to X’s and O’s knowledge and “fake FB guys” like Chris Brown (Smart Football) can release a book with just as much football knowledge on each page.
Let’s judge content on it’s quality, not on the strength of the resume of the content creator and let’s champion the great content creators in the field, rather than set up more barriers about why one class of content creator is somehow inherently better than the others. Frankly, recent history has proved, conclusively, that just isn’t the case.