In the 1988 World Series, MLB announcer Jack Buck famously said, "I don't believe what I just saw!" after an injured Kirk Gibson hit a walk-off home run. After watching another biased New Orleans Saints story on ESPN's OTL show, I find myself saying the same thing. But this time, John Barr, OTL, and ESPN have gone too far.
Outside the Lines
I remember when ESPN first started airing "Outside the Lines" decades ago. Originally, the concept was brilliant. ESPN aired a handful of primetime OTL shows per year investigating controversial sports stories. Unfortunately, OTL became a victim of its own success and now airs six original shows per week.
ESPN now has to go out and dig up stories to fill up these OTL shows with content. One example of this is when OTL reporter John Barr reported that Saints GM Mickey Loomis was wiretapping in the Superdome. New Orleans attorney Donald Foret said that Barr came to him looking for a negative story on the Saints.
After the Louisiana State Police found no evidence to corroborate John Barr's story, the OTL reporter returned to New Orleans to defame the Saints. Barr's latest OTL report aired on Sunday, August 19 and lashed out at Sean Payton. Among other things, John Barr claimed that Payton has criticized the media.
Yes, you read that correctly. ESPN actually wasted a half-hour of airtime doing a report on a coach who has criticized the media. At least Barr's wiretapping story was unique and original. But unless you've been living in a cave (without a cell phone and Wi-Fi) you've probably seen dozens of coaches get angry at the media before.
John Barr cited several examples of New Orleans reporters who have gotten under Sean Payton's skin. I'm not going to dignify OTL by citing all those examples here. But one non-sourced claim by John Barr about an unflattering, expletive that Payton allegedly refers to Larry Holder by was highly irresponsible.
Larry Holder is the new Saints beat writer for The Times-Picayune. Holder has covered the New Orleans Saints for several years for other media outlets. After seeing John Barr's OTL report on ESPN, Holder responded on Twitter. He said, "Regardless of what ESPN's OTL reported, Sean Payton and I don't have this contentious relationship. I'd say we're on very good terms."
If the last month is any indication, ESPN is more interested in catering to New York Jets fans than giving sports fans the coverage they deserve. Whether people in New Orleans just stop watching ESPN or Saints owner Tom Benson sues ESPN, something must be done. The irresponsible reporting and biased coverage must stop.
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of the New Orleans Saints. Patrick's favorite Saints season was 2009 when New Orleans won Super Bowl 44. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
August 19, 2012 episode of OTL airing on ESPN
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