There’s tension on the New England Patriots beat with media criticizing media on coverage of the Nick Caserio story.
Currently the Patriots’ director of player personnel, the Houston Texans wanted to interview — and likely hire — Caserio as their new general manager. The Patriots denied Houston permission for an interview, contending that Caserio is under contract and not allowed to make what was arguably a lateral move to the Texans’ front office. New England went on to file tampering charges, alleging that Houston approached Caserio about the job before formally interviewing him.
The story had arguably run its course with a clause in Caserio’s contract stating that he was not allowed to interview with other NFL teams. The Texans inquired as to whether or not the Patriots would be willing to waive the clause for something in return, but the trade terms were presumably too high.
Yet Ben Volin of the Boston Globe caused a stir among the Patriots press corp — and national media covering the NFL — with a piece that stated Caserio wants out of New England.
“Specifically, he wants that Texans job, even though it was more of a lateral move than a true promotion. And to prevent Caserio from leaving, the Patriots had to enforce a clause in his contract and file tampering charges.”
Reporting Facts or Stating Opinion?
At issue is whether Volin was reporting information he’d learned or he was expressing an opinion based on what he believed. Particularly critical was NESN’s Doug Kyed, who called Volin’s piece “fan fiction” on Twitter.
In response to the growing uproar over his article, Volin went on Houston sports talk radio to defend himself, saying he wrote an opinion piece, not a report.
“So I just want to clarify one thing,” Volin said on “The Triple Threat” show. “I’m seeing my column that I just posted a half-hour ago, I’m seeing it being referred to as a report all over the internet. And I don’t think it’s a report. I’m not talking, like, I don’t have direct information from Caserio or his agent. Like, no one’s telling me, ‘Aw, Nick wants out.’ What I’m doing is looking at all the facts of the situation and analyzing it and using some logic and common sense to try to tell people what’s going on.”
Furthermore, Volin criticized those who took issue with him, saying it was a complete overreaction.
“I think people are flipping out for no reason,” Volin said. “All the people criticizing me haven’t offered a rebuttal of anything I wrote. Refute what I say. If you think I’m wrong, give me proof I’m wrong.”
Kyed’s response to that and WEEI’s Alex Reimer defending Volin:
Others covering the Patriots joined in:
This is becoming a story that media covering the Patriots might care about more than Patriots fans. Volin’s piece perhaps could have been framed more as opinion, but reads more like a column (and was under the Globe‘s “On Football” heading). Other outlets aggregating it as a factual report is what caused any possible confusion.
For now, Caserio has one year remaining on his Patriots contract and if he really does want out of Foxborough, we’ll know that for certain when he leaves. And if he goes to Houston, it’ll be clear he wanted that job. Until then, the real story to follow might be whether or not executives see the Patriots as facing a decline with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady nearing the end of their respective careers.