Bad news, Eagles fans: According to a report from Global Associated News, Michael Vick has broken both legs in a Philadelphia car accident! The accident involved Vick and a 76-year-old female driver, and further details will be forthcoming.
In an eerie coincidence, Tom Brady has also broken both legs in a car accident of his own, involving a 76-year-old female driver. And Peyton Manning suffered a catastrophic injury when he broke both legs in a car accident with, yep, a 76-year-old female driver.
Hey, wait a second … either there's an elderly woman who's hunting pro quarterbacks, or something's not quite right here.
The broken-leg story is a hoax, obviously, and a clever if easily disproved one. Hoaxes are nothing new in sports; virtually every league has a tale of a draft pick who turned out to be a complete concoction. Perhaps the most famous of sports hoaxes is Sidd Finch, the mysterious Mets recruit who could throw 168 mph … or would have, were he not an April Fool's Day joke and a product of writer George Plimpton's imagination. But such hoaxes are far tougher to pull off in the hyper-connected 21st century; we have few secrets from one another, and anybody good enough to show up on professional leagues' radar is already big enough to warrant his own Facebook page.
So if hoaxers can't snooker us with the unknown, they use the 21st century's greatest innovation — the Internet — against it. Mark Twain once said that a lie could travel halfway around the globe before the truth could get its shoes on, and Twain didn't have access to Twitter. Heck, he didn't even have a dial-up modem. But the principle still applies, and thanks to sites like FakeAWish.com, the lie is global before the truth even awakens.
FakeAWish is the source of the "Global Associated News" reports — a fake-article generator that started as a gimmick to "create" celebrity "deaths." The broken-leg stories featured on the site now allows users to troll their fantasy football opponents with sudden, dramatic "injury" news (though any fantasy football owner who yanks a star because of an unsourced online report probably deserves to lose).
At its heart, this isn't about subverting the media or upsetting fans and loved ones or anything like that. It's about messing with people, plain and simple. And even though the text in the "news report" is laughable, it convinces that distressingly large segment of the population that believes anything it reads on the Internet. Indeed, the Vick-broken-legs hoax spread so wide that it got its own entry in Snopes.com, the website designed to drag hoaxes into the light. Don't be among those gullible people, friends. Don't believe everything you read.
Well, except for that business about Arian Foster and the ocelot. Shame, really. He'll have to miss the next three games, so you should definitely sit him this weekend.