Well. This was awkward. On a night where the graphics department for ESPN had a few problems, ESPN cameras returned to "Monday Night Football" a little quicker than its on-camera talent expected. Viewers thus heard ESPN.com columnist Rick Reilly instructing host Stuart Scott to "say that I had this first on Twitter." By "this," Reilly meant news of Ben Roethlisberger's serious shoulder injury.
The glory-grab apparently didn't sit well with Steve Young, who stared daggers at Reilly, then tapped him with a "dude, what the heck?" look. Reilly only smirked as Scott did indeed credit Reilly for breaking the news of Roethlisberger's injured shoulder first on Twitter. (This is not the first time Young has broken out of the traditional ex-jock-turned-cheerleader mode; he ripped the NFL and replacement refs in the wake of the controversial Seattle-Green Bay Monday night game a few weeks back.)
Now, Reilly gets grief from many sources not just because of jealousy over his astronomical paycheck, but for the way he forces himself into stories with cute-but-dated pun-laden humor. The pertinent question here is, what exactly did Reilly break? At 11:02 p.m., he tweeted, "Asked Roethlisberger as he was leaving how bad his shoulder was. He just shook his head. Was wearing sling on right shoulder. Left w/ wife." Interesting detail, but then Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Dejan Kovacevic had reported more than a half-hour earlier that "Roethlisberger being evaluated for right shoulder injury, return questionable."
Reilly then said that Roethlisberger was not headed to a "medical destination," per a Steelers spokesman. Four minutes later, he reversed course, saying at 11:12 p.m. that Roethlisberger's agent told him that "the QB IS headed to hospital to have right shoulder checked out. Said its a 'non-traditional' inj." Problem for Reilly is, the Steelers beat writer, Mark Kaboly, had this same information five minutes earlier. (Hat tip: Deadspin.)
"Breaking news" doesn't exactly have the same cachet in the Twitter-enabled world than it did a few years back; these days, any news that gets broken by one source gets picked up by all others within minutes. Still, there is credibility that comes from breaking news. Thing is, you shouldn't have to ask for it.
UPDATE: And note that Rick Reilly is referred to as "Ricky Craven, NASCAR analyst" late in the video. Geez.
-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-
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