'The Sliming of Josh Freeman'

Great piece by Dave Zirin for The Nation, on the Josh Freeman fiasco:

Would the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their head coach Greg Schiano leak confidential information that implied one of their own players was on drugs as a way to deflect attention from another wretched season? Schiano says “absolutely not.” But the facts point in the direction of him or his staff, and the facts are ugly as hell.

[…]

After his benching, Freeman demanded a trade, and the team clearly wants to oblige and get as much as they can in return. But alas, there is a tension. While upper management wants to maximize Freeman’s value, those in tenuous positions of power on the Bucs—like the gobsmacking twenty-six assistant coaches on staff—have an incentive to make Josh Freeman to look as cancerous as possible. Someone connected to the team released information to ESPN’s “NFL insider” Chris Mortensen, who, in a manner far closer to Judith Miller than Glenn Greenwald, dutifully reported the leak that Freeman was in “stage one” of the drug program, while leaving out that he was reporting confidential information or the nature of the drugs involved. Immediately the rumors started to swirl and the sliming was underway.

This situation is so fucked up; I feel badly for Freeman. Also, the pictures Zirin paints of Schiano and Chris Mortensen don’t exactly put them in an endearing light. Shame on Mortensen for reporting confidential information.

I hope the NFL does something, and that Freeman gets out of Tampa ASAP.