Words Not To Use Capriciously In The NFL: “Tampering”

While the announcement of Vinny Cerrato’s radio show on ESPN 980 was met with two basic reactions (those being mild indifference and frothing apoplectic rage), the actual airing of the show itself was a much lower-key affair. Everyone seemed to realize that it was, after all, just a sports talk radio show and not actually another sign of the coming Redskins apocalypse or whatever. Some fans seemed to really enjoy it, others found it slightly dull, but by that point it didn’t seem like such a big deal and that was it for that subject for the weekend.

At least, publicly.

This morning’s edition of the show started with new co-host Frank Hanrahan introducing Friday’s host, George Michael, to help clear up some business. Here’s a transcription.

GM: Here’s the deal. I hear that there was an accusation of a very serious word, and the word being tampering, which I found to be utterly outrageous.

So, Vinny, I told you on Friday that I didn’t want to get you in trouble. We talked about Lane Kiffin, the coach of the Raiders, and it’s been suggested that there was a call or question of Were you involved or were you guilty of tampering.

VC: You want me to explain it first? Jason La Canfora [of the Washington Post], he called the NFL to ask them, are they not gonna charge the Washington Redskins with tampering. Let’s listen to it and then I’ll read the tampering rule.


Instead of transcribing the clip, in which Cerrato and Michael are talking to Adam Schefter of the NFL Network about embattled Oakland Raiders coach Lane Kiffin, let me turn to Ryan O’Halloran of the Washington Times. O’Halloran was liveblogging Cerrato’s Friday show as it ran. His approach to the liveblogging was generally sarcastic (as liveblogging tends to be), and if something had jumped out at him as distasteful, I’m inclined to think that he would’ve mentioned it.

Here’s the relevant portion of his post on the segment in question:

11:33 a.m.: Vinny asks about Lane Kiffin. Adam schools Vinny on how to ask a question. Schefter says Kiffin would have been fired had the Raiders lost last week to KC.

That’s about as much interest as O’Halloran could muster for the subject, but apparently the same wasn’t true for La Canfora.

FH: All right, so that’s what happened on Friday. Now, Vinny, take us through, Vinny, what’s been going on since then.

VC: Let me read the tampering rule. It says about head coaches, “during a club’s playing season, no club may request permission to discuss employment with a head coach for the current or future season.”

Last time I checked, Frank, we do have a head coach, and there was no discussion there of anything to do with a head coach, or job opporunities – all it was was discussing his opportunity with a guy from NFL network, Adam Schefter, who, that’s his job it is to talk about these things. And that’s what we discussed about him being fired, which will probably happen today from what everybody’s reporting, and there was also mention that I read on profootballtalk about him going to Syracuse.

So I don’t see why Jason La Canfora would call the league office to charge us with tampering.

At this point, you might be thinking something like, “So?” or, “Okay, so these guys don’t like each other, but what’s it to me?” In fact, George Michael asks that precise question for you.

GM: Vinny, Vinny, let me ask you this: if it were tampering – and that is a very serious thing – if it were tampering, what would happen to the Redskins?

VC: Well, this, George. If we were caught tampering, we would lose draft picks and be fined heavily. Look at the New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings, a lot of these teams that have had these things happen lately, you’re gonna get fined heavily. So this guy… one of the reasons I wanted to do this show, George, was to give my opinions on things so when things come up, I can voice my opinion.

But when a guy is trying to hurt the franchise of the Washington redskins, I’m gonna stand up and I’m gonna defend the Washington Redskins, because there is nothing that happened on that—this is just a guy attacking us, and I wish that he would just be professional like the rest of his colleagues that cover the Redskins. Period.

And this is where the issue becomes of concern to the fans. The fact that some members of the media are closer with some members of the teams they cover is no secret, nor is the fact that some members of the media flat don’t like some of the players. That’s actually a fairly main point of media objectivity: not only that they shouldn’t allow their rooting interests (and fandoms) affect their coverage, but that they shouldn’t allow personal biases to do the same.

The fans on the ExtremeSkins message boards, for example, did not take well to the news. A quick sampling:

JoeGibbsRypenGClark91: Is this serious ? Is so JLC should be fired ASAP.

HAILSKINSNYC: now you know why Lacanfora was so critical of Vinny doing a radio show….he would call him out for all his B.S. propoganda against the Skins.

GoodOnPaper: How much longer will us fans have to put up with his diatribe? I don’t even want to see his posts make news here anymore. Isn’t there something we can do?

The fans at TheWarpath.net were equally upset, if a bit more direct:

hooskins: wow, that is really messed up.

FRPLG: You gotta be kidding me! Why would JLC even think that is tampering? VC isn’t allowed to talk to a reporter about something like that? There has to be more to that story. JLC may have an axe to grind but I don’t think he is stupid and you’d have to be stupid to think that is tampering. You’d also have to be stupid to get involved like that when your job basically depends on having access that would most likely get cut off once you go around burning bridges like that. No way I believe it. I just don’t think he is that stupid.

When I asked Cerrato about it, and he was even more vehement than he was on-air. “Tampering is one of the worst things you can accuse someone of in the NFL,” he said. “It’s not a casual matter.”

I asked La Canfora if he would discuss the issue with me, but he couldn’t comment until he had spoken to his editors at the Post.

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47 Responses

  1. Matt,

    I think the post should hire you as their blogger and get rid of JLC. I mean why would someone just call the NFL and try to report the team that they are covering?

    All this guy does is right about how be hates the franchise and the management…

    Why doesn’t he go work for another newspaper…out of D.C.

  2. Matt,

    JLC is a crooked glasses wearing punk. If he don’t like the redskins then he should get assigned to another beat. I hope he is banned from the park.

  3. JLC is an idiot, i hope he gets fired, or at least loses his credentials to cover the Skins

  4. What if we would have lost a draft pick? We could be playing without Horton right now or one of our 2nd round picks…

  5. Hehehe, the battle of the blogs.

    JLC has his moments, but overall his jaded approach doesn’t fit when a new team is coming together because it doesn’t allow for the possibility of change that he doesn’t personally agree with.

    In this type of writing, its important for the author to have a voice, but if that voice ends up doing nothing but whining, then the only other people who are going to find it interesting are whiners.

  6. The Post needs to get rid of LaCanfora NOW!

  7. You all need to get a life. Freaking losers.

  8. He should be fired. period.
    This is making up news and trying to create news.
    Very unprofessional for a professional journalist.

    As I said in the extremeskins thread, I am boycotting the Washington Post (which I read on the ‘net both Redskins insider and DC Sports Bog) and Washington Post Live on Comcast until he is fired.

  9. FIRE HIM NOWWW. Ever since i seen him i knew he was all for the publicity and never a true member of the Redskin Family. He’s like the stupidest reporter i have ever heard of in my life.Tru

  10. As a fan in Scotland who comes over whenever he can I find it absurd that JLC should come out with this crap and should never be allowed back inside FedEx either as a paying customer or on his regular press pass. I am also in total agreement with the boycotting of the Post which I also read on the net until he is replaed.

  11. hah is poopyface Jason LaCantReporta?

  12. Well, he hasn’t posted since like 12:30, so who knows what fate awaits JLC.

    I’ve never understood the nature of his issue with getting squeezed out of the Taylor trade scoop. I know that as a reporter he wants to find out things quickly so that he can bring viewers to his medium, but is Vinny really supposed to jeopardize a trade by making him happy for a post? I think not. If things had gotten out before they happened, the Skins may have had to give more, or someone else might have made a better offer. When trades or other sensitive things are being worked on, its the organizations job to clam up and pretend like nothings going on. Not to speculate on what could be.

  13. Lay off JLC, guys. He is a solid reporter and he gives the best rusty trombones I’ve ever had.

  14. lol

    I can’t understand how people can defends a guy who tried to get the skins FO in hotwater over a harmless radio talk.

    the WaPo and JLC have always shown a bias against the current skins FO. this childish behavior by JLC should not be defended,but condemned.

  15. Honestly, I’m not going to rip the ‘Post overall for this. The guys over there at the Redskins Insider have their opinions and biases that they bring, but I think overall the Post has kept a fairly neutral tone, especially with the editorials. JLC clearly does not like Vinny, and via transference Danny boy. But like I said, keeping reporters out of the loop on trades is a fact of life, and if they couldn’t find another source to confirm, then that’s their own fault.

    Sally Jenkins aside, who I’m not really a big fan of, Wilbon, Wise, and Boswell have written with a fairly neutral point of view allowing the future to develop without condemning the present. Wise particularly has done a good job of highlighting the good, but not pretending that the bad hasn’t happened as well.

  16. JLC should be barred from covering the Skins. He has no journalistic integrity — quoting unnamed NFL executives — that are probably figments of his imagination or competitors with a vested interest in stirring up trouble. He works for a hometown newspaper and constantly dishes out unbalanced, negative stories. It’s one thing to be critical of a team, but if true — he can kiss his sports journalism career goodbye…

  17. Matt, in all this hullaballoo, I’m pleased with how evenly you reported this – just keep giving us the facts and the inside scoop when you can, and let us go nuts with it. Like Drew said earlier, top blogger in the area!

  18. since when is a journalist covering the team supposed to be part of the “Redskins Family”????

    get a grip…

  19. I second that emotion “sonny fan”, very good point.

  20. A hometown reporter is supposed to support the hometown team. Questioning moves made by the team is fine, endlessly questioning moves made by the team gets old and stale. However you cross the line when you start trying to hurt the team in the manner in which things supposedly happened in regard to Vinny and all this Kiffin commentary.

    Funny thing is, out West, they probably don’t even have a clue that all this is happening. Which is exactly why calling what Vinny said, tampering, so completely off the wall and insane. As league rules state, your only tampering if you try to get them fired so you can hire them, and since I don’t think the ‘Skins are even remotely interested in him, so why would JLC do what he did… yeah, the conclusions fall into place without needing any further explanation.

  21. Wow, JLC still has editors at the WP? Guess that won’t last much longer. Maybe he can work for the Onion.

  22. And another thing….If anyone saw Zorn’s postgame press conference, when the reporter asked what he thought about Heyer’s penalty that called back Thomas’ TD, it was JLC that said it was a forearm to the head, yes I recognize that dude’s voice. I’ve been watching that replay over and over again, Heyer put both hands on Dockett’s shoulders, and it was a clean block. Not his fault Dockett was watching the butterflies in the middle of the play. I don’t know what JLC saw, but he seems more and more anti-skins than when I began reading his blog.

    I understand journalistic integrity, but trying to get a team in trouble for something that wasn’t even close to tampering isn’t integrity. Journalistic integrity is giving the public the facts without implementing your spin or opinion on it.

  23. This actually doesn’t even surprise me. JLC always acts like he’s trying to uncover some great scandal within the Redskins.

    He doesn’t realize this is a sport, not Watergate. We watch to be entertained.

  24. Going to reserve judgment till I hear the WaPo and or NFL office’s side of the story. if JLC did it he will be in trouble.

  25. “A hometown reporter is supposed to support the hometown team.”

    ==

    I can’t even express how silly this is…

  26. Well, this all seems over. Though I could understand if Vinny wasn’t overly fond of JLC, and vice-versa.

    There’s a response from the Post up over at the “Redskins Insider.” Basically they claim that JLC only called to ask about whether or not Vinny was limited in his ability to respond to such questions as a result of his position with the team. Their attitude is that he was just following up based on an idea about the radio show overall, and the specifics of the Kiffin situation. However, when reading between the lines, it seems like JLC was nosing the league in the direction of being aware of the issue, and prepared if things went somewhere. Though it appears that things would have to be initiated by the Raiders.

    “Jason LaCanfora called our office and said that Vinny Cerrato was talking in specifics on his radio show about the Raiders’ coaching position. Jason wanted to know if that could possibly be a tampering issue.” The fact that it could have been a tampering issue seems like he was looking to play “gotcha” with the Skins FO more than looking for the league to actually do something.

    Oh well, fact of the matter is that we shouldn’t be fighting against the FO, or the reporting organizations that cover the team, we should be fighting with Cowboys fans.

  27. Jason,

    You may have just tampered with your job security, you are one dumb *&%$^#@

  28. Jason,

    and *&^$$#$&*()_@##$%&^%$(^^%%, you stupid *&%%$@$%$**%

  29. This is a petty non-issue. Danny boy and Vinny have been trying to get the Post in trouble for years for what they perceive as negative coverage. They retaliated by taking away the Post’s season ticket package & launching a smear campaign (of which this story is a small part).

  30. This has gone too far with JLC. At the least the Post should take him off the Skins beat. And, can the Redskins flat out boycott him from Redskins Park? I’m positive he is CNN’s Larry King’s illegitimate son because doesn’t he look like King.

  31. “what they perceive as negative coverage”

    PERCEIVE? Have you read the crap JLC posts on RI? There’s no need for perception, it’s blatant as the sun a bright sunny day.

    Get grip, JLC has never had any issue making it very clear that he hates Snyder and Cerrato and has ALWAYS looked for the negative in most everything he writes about the team.

    Sorry, but that’s NOT unbiased at all and I think he should take his personal feelings else where.

  32. People shouldn’t get so caught up in fandom. It’s good to get an objective viewpoint sometimes rather than drinking the kool aid all the time. It’s not a perfect world and not a perfect team (although I live and die with the team).

    JLC does some solid reporting and is after all a beat writer meant to get the story rather than just joining the payroll. Here’s the link to his side of the story to keep from paraphrasing him:

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/redskinsinsider/2008/09/a_note_from_the_sports_editor.html

  33. A reporter who is dying to report bad things, often going into speculative theories and consulting enemy FO mystery sources who are also dying to spread negativity, is hardly an “objective viewpoint”.

    Please read the actual quotes from the NFL, and not the Posts’ interpretation of them. He did call to “taddletale”. Is that objective reporting?

  34. You are not really quoting some random knuckleheads from ExtremeSkins and the Warpath are you? Lame, dude.

  35. Two things piss me off. JLC, and Tony Kornhieser on monday night football.

  36. J-loc. I always knew something was off with that guy. He’s always on washington post live going on and on about the capitals and baseball and football. He takes things a little too personally, and even though it’s known reporters have biases etc, he doesn’t do a good job of hiding his personal feelings. Plus the guy has roots in bmore but he roots red sox nation? what a windbag. Does the guy even write any good articles? There’s plenty of good writers for the post that are plenty critical, like Boswell, jenkins, etc… but something about this guy reeks of personal vendetta or maybe he just wants to start controversy for personal gain. As a redskin fan, anyone that get’s involved with something that could directly hurt my hometown team, boo to you.

  37. Both WashPost beat writers have their issues. Personally I enjoy watching every press session on Redskins.com then reading articles from Redskins.com, Terl’s blog, then I read the posts articles.

    I honestly don’t think they have a clue. During all the press conferences LaCanfora’s and Jason Reid’s(Post beat writers) ask the lamest quests. LaCa doesn’t know anything about football. And Jason Reid tries to put words in Zorn’s mouth.

    In response to LaCanfora, I’m of the opinion a beat writer should either be an objective fan of the team, or have some higher knowledge of the game, not some vendetta. As far as Reid’s mouth-filling-interview-barages, I can think of two instances. First, when they kept reporting about Malcolm Kelley possibly going on IR…That’s not what Zorn said… he said they were looking at all options and he LISTED ALL THE OPTIONS…anywhere from active to IR. And the Post harped on the IR portion ONLY. Second, when the media made a big deal out Campbell in the shotgun, I remember watching the press conferences and Jason Reid seems to ALWAYS make a ignorant comment before he asks a lame question. What I remember was to the tune of… “OBVIOUSLY the shotgun is a security blanket…blah blah…do you think you’ll be using it more often.” The first words out of Zorns mouth were a terse, “It’s NOT a security blanket.” It was clearly a media trap.

    I get so heated over this stuff. I should start boycotting the post cause I only read their articles to laugh at their obnoxiously obtuse opinions.

  38. In addition, LaCa and Jason Reid should learn what objective reporting is from Kelli Johnson. She asks the players difficult questions, but does it with class.

  39. Hehe, she was giving Devin Thomas some crap because he was wearing a TO branded T-shirt during Dallas week. His weak excuse was that Rosenhaus had sent it to him a week ago, but that sounds like some evil intentions, or at least humorous. Still, rookie gotta learn not to wear that crap ever, especially not in Dallas weak part 1.

    For now, I consider this controversy dead. I appreciate that this blog has stayed neutral on most things regarding the Skins from an editorial standpoint. And anyone who hasn’t seen it already, the first link from the link section is hilarious. Wait for the milk commercial, because I can’t understand how they ever got Zorn and Largent to agree to do that.

  40. J-Lac has decided to be part of the story rather than covering the story. Isn’t that like a violation of the reporter Prime Directive? He’s just trying to make a name for himself like all the tool reporters like lebatard and marrioti (sorry for the spelling) who are stars because they’re jerks.

  41. If I am in the NFL, I do not want this guy around my players or my team, or anyone in my organization…

    think about it…anything JLC gets his eyes or ears on around Redskins park he is calling the NFL to report us?

    Who knows who else he is calling in the NFL when he gets to watch practice everyday…

    He wants the Redskins to fail–which is why I do not like him.

  42. Emilio whatever your name is from the Post. Ask yourself one question, “is what La Canfora did yesterday reporting on the Redskins.” You are hard pressed to answer that question in the affirmative after La Canfora called the NFL to find out if Cerrato’s comments were tampering. How is that reporting Mr. sports editor and has your reporter not stepped over the line?

  43. Now they are filtering their blog on this issue. I think we should honestly blow up his blog. annoy the hell out of him for being a prick. I always heard people say stuff about JLC beinga prick. Now I see he is the prick of all pricks.

  44. I am a redskins fan living in the buffalo area, and what i find really interesting is how the washington media makes a big deal out of the littlest things. Like Jason Taylor alternating spots with Andre Carter, and JC working out of the shotgun. In this area the Buffalo media focus’s on bigger isues going on with the team, and doesn’t ask the most rediculous questions during press conferences with their players.

  45. WaPo: keep JLC, redefine for him his role. He wears too many hats: beat reporter, blogger, columnist. Promote Jason Reid to head beat reporter and make JLC the blogger and columnist, voila this problem is solved.

  46. Correction, after reading Emilio Garcia-Ruiz’s (sports editor of WaPo) comments on the matter, this is total ******** and blown way out of proportion. What Jason did was call the league and see if Vinny’s statements were violating any rules. Although he sleeps and eats Redskins coverage, Jason knows no more about these rules than the average fan, they come into play so rarely. It was all research and research is like making sausage.

  47. BTW, Emilio’s piece is here.

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