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The Media and athletes don't mix

By Jeffery Armstrong

I am currently reading a great sports book. It is called The Dark Side of the Game: My Life in the NFL by former Atlanta Falcon defender Tim Green.

He talks about some pretty fascinating stuff in that book. Some of his chapters are about Deion Sanders, groupies and their relationships with NFL players and the horrors of training camp.

One of the most interesting parts of his book was the chapter on football players and the media. He talked about how football players don't really like members of the press. Of course my interest piqued when I read that chapter.

Green said he admitted to snickering when a reporter who dogged two of his teammates was unceremoniously dumped into a trash can when he went to the locker room after a game. The two bums who did that (and yeah, they were bums) were upset with the reporter because he said some harsh things about them in an earlier article or column.

I found myself getting angry as I thought about a reporter getting dumped into a trash can n what lowlifes. It's amazing that athletes can beat each other up on the football field and get chewed out by coaches, but a few words from a reporter can get them incensed. And what's worse is that the bums ambushed the reporter n they weren't man enough to look him in the eye and grab him.

It would take much self-control, prayer and maybe intervention from police to stop me from going after any athlete(s) who did that to me. I may be a reporter, but I've got an athlete's mentality and I don't take crap like that lying down, or face down in the trash.

Green is an NFL broadcaster now and he sees things from the reporter's point of view and knows that type of behavior is not cool. A lot of athletes feel that since many of us reporters haven't played any organized sports, we don't have the right to criticize them. I've never liked hearing that. Everyone gets criticized n some of it's fair, some of it isn't. I used to get criticized when I was in college interning at my hometown paper. In fact, I called the reporter who was training me "Molly Hatchet" because of her constant changes to my stories. I was young and thought I knew everything about journalism, but I soon realized that I didn't. I apologized to Robin (Molly) later on during that summer for saying that and we both laughed about it.

As far as sports goes, I never played NFL football, or high school football for that matter, but I know sports and I know when players make mistakes on coverages or are just not hustling.

On the other hand, some reporters need to be taken off their high horse, like national broadcaster Tim McCarver. When Deion Sanders dumped ice water on McCarver years ago when he played for the Atlanta Braves, I wasn't upset. McCarver criticized Deion, saying he hurt the Braves and Falcons players for playing both sports at the same time. McCarver said this without ever interviewing any of Deion's teammates to see if they felt that way. I'm not saying what Deion did was right, but I believe McCarver deserved that for not doing his research. And hey, at least Deion didn't dump him in the trash.

Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at jarmstrong@news-daily.com.