Shutdown Corner - NFL

If you aren't familiar with the name John Tomase, I sort of envy you. That would mean that you aren't terribly caught up in all this Spygate business, at least not caught up enough to know the name of the unfortunate soul at the Boston Herald who first "broke" the story of the Rams walkthrough tape, which, of course, we now know never existed.

His official apology is here, but here's the Reader's Digest version: He screwed up. He had sources that weren't concrete and he really wanted to break the story first, so he made some poor assumptions. He ended up printing something about the Patriots that wasn't true.

And in a special treat for Herald readers who demanded their pound of flesh, the Herald turned comments back on for the apology story. One hour after the story was posted (which was sometime around midnight or 1 a.m. last night), there were 53 comments, and exactly two of them weren't bile-filled rants calling for Tomase to be fired and/or beheaded, and then to have his severed head paraded through downtown Boston on a stick, while his parents are tied to the Bunker Hill Monument, where the public are invited to drop by and throw rocks at their faces.

Patriots fans, I understand why you might not be to happy with John Tomase. I get it. The story not only turned out not to be true, but it went public on the day before the Super Bowl, which was a time you were hoping to enjoy (but, as it turned out, you didn't get to enjoy that either. Sorry).

But an important thing to note here is that Tomase was getting flambéed by the public before anyone even knew for sure that no walkthrough tape existed. The actual crime he committed was reporting a story he shouldn't have, but the crime he's been paying for is reporting a story that Patriots fans didn't like.

If he wrote for a paper in Los Angeles or Minnesota, he'd still have been taken to task over this, but the public vitriol wouldn't even be a fraction of what it's been. Again, he had been getting raked over the coals by Boston fans long before it was public knowledge that no tape existed. All the newest comments of hatred on his apology column might as well read, "OH YEAH, AND IT WASN'T TRUE, EITHER!"

The guy made a mistake. A big, big mistake, and the timing couldn't have been worse. But still, it was just a mistake. You're all going to make mistakes in your job, and in your life. Some of them will be big, big mistakes. And some of them will have consequences far worse than making a group of football fans kinda sad on the day before their favorite team played a big game.

I sort of wish that the newspaper business worked like sports, and the Herald could trade Tomase to the Seattle Times for cash and future considerations, just so both parties could get a fresh start.

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