Lawyer’s Tweet Sparks False NFL Throwback Speculation

An odd little drama played out in the uni-verse yesterday. It was nominally about the NFL, the Vikings, and the 1920s franchise the Duluth Eskimos (whose old jersey design is shown above). But in the bigger picture, it was really about misinformation, speculation, and bad journalism.

It began when an intellectual property attorney named Josh Gerben noticed that the NFL filed a trademark application last week for the team name “Duluth Eskimos.” Gerben, who enjoys sharing trademark analysis, especially on sports-related topics, on his Twitter feed, tweeted yesterday morning that the trademark filing “suggests that a[n] NFL team could play a game as the Duluth Eskimos this coming year.” In an accompanying video, he went further, saying it’s “very likely” that an NFL team — presumably the Vikings — would play a game as the Eskimos this season, and that it would be “very odd” for that not to happen, based on the language in the trademark application. At the end of the video, he hedged a bit and said this was all “obviously speculation at this point.”

I urge you to watch the video for yourself — it’s only two minutes long:

A few hours later, writer Jordan Heck of the Sporting News used Gerben’s tweet as the basis for an article. The headline, which has since been changed, said that the Vikings would “likely” wear Eskimos throwbacks this season. The text (which I wish I had screen-capped, because the key passages have now been scrubbed) made it sound like the throwbacks were pretty much a done deal.

As you’d expect, that generated a lot of response. A Uni Watch reader posted the Sporting News link in the comments section of yesterday’s post; several other readers emailed the Sporting News link to me; lots of people on social media began getting all excited, assuming that this was the first sign of a full-blown NFL throwback program for the league’s centennial, just like the one they did for the 75th anniversary in 1994; a thread popped up on Reddit; the #HTTR crowd began stirring the pot regarding “Eskimo” vs. “Redskin”; and so on.

But I was skeptical. For starters, we just wrapped up the NFL Draft, which is where uni-related announcements, hints, and teases usually occur, and there was exactly zero buzz about centennial throwbacks. Moreover, how could the Vikings wear Eskimos throwbacks, or any other non-purple throwbacks, with the one-shell rule still in place?

So I did what the Sporting News guy didn’t bother to do: I emailed an NFL spokesman, explained that the trademark filing was leading to a lot of speculation, and asked if he could confirm, deny, or otherwise comment on it. I also included a link to the Sporting News story. His response came within a few minutes:

There are no plans to make a name change or wear those jerseys. As part of the league’s 100th season, the team will look to celebrate and salute early football in the state of Minnesota. There are some plans for promotional and content opportunities. The league had the trademark in the mid-’90s following the 75th season and was asked by the club to file again.

So that was the end of that. In order to shut down the speculation, I tweeted at the Sporting News guy and let him know that the throwbacks weren’t happening. He thanked me, changed his headline, made some adjustments to his text, and tacked a “Eh, never mind” update onto the end of his now-pointless story.

A few thoughts about all this:

1. Trademark applications are becoming a fertile source of uni- and logo-related information. A number of media outlets, including SportsLogos.net, have based stories on these filings. I confess that I know nothing about this type of research, but I’d like to learn more about it. If anyone wants to school me, I’m all ears.

2. It’s one thing to find some interesting info in a trademark application; it’s another to read the tea leaves and speculate about what that information means. So I decided to get in touch with Josh Gerben, the trademark attorney whose tweet had gotten this whole thing started.

We had a short talk yesterday afternoon and a longer talk in the evening. Smart guy, interesting guy. The short version is that even though the Vikings aren’t going to wear Eskimos throwbacks, he stands by his analysis of the NFL’s trademark application and thinks most other trademark attorneys would draw the same conclusions he did. In other words, he says he connected the right dots, based on the available evidence from the NFL’s paperwork.

Gerben also pointed out that he’s not a journalist and can’t just call up the NFL to ask them about their trademarks, all of which is true. And although he didn’t bring this up, I understand what “very likely” means from a probability standpoint: If the weather forecast says there’s a 70 percent chance of rain, that still means it won’t rain 30 times out of 100. So I don’t think it’s a ruinous error for his prediction/speculation to have been wrong in this case. But as I explained to him, I do wish he’d choose his words more carefully, because when an expert says something is “very likely,” it sends people off to the races, and that makes things difficult for those of us who work in the world of facts and information. He said he’d take our conversation to heart.

Later in the evening, I sent Gerben a follow-up note with an additional point that I’d neglected to mention on the phone: While he may be an expert on trademarks, he is not an expert on uniforms. If he were, he would have known about the one-shell rule, and that in turn would have made him much more skeptical about the chances of the Vikings wearing Eskimos throwbacks. I’m not sure it would have changed his ultimate conclusion (he insists that the way the trademark application was worded made it seem like the NFL would be putting a team called the Eskimos on the field, and I’ll have to take his word for that because he knows more about trademark applications than I do), but at the very least it would have altered his calculus. This lack of expertise in the specific fields and industries from which the trademark applications originate makes it even harder for him (or anyone) to read those tea leaves, and that makes it even more important for him (or anyone) to choose his words with care when publicly assessing those applications.

3. The original Sporting News piece by Jordan Heck was a highly irresponsible piece of journalism. Heck didn’t contact Gerben or the NFL — he just ran with Gerben’s tweet and used it as the basis for some unfounded assertions. After I followed up with the NFL like he should have done, he scrubbed his erroneous text without indicating that he’d done so. From start to finish, that’s some really shoddy work. None of it reflects well on whoever his editor is, either.

But when I talked to Gerben, the trademark attorney, he told me that a Canadian wire service had also published a story about all of this (in part, it appears, because the team name “Eskimos” has been controversial in the CFL). The Canadian reporter, Bob Weber, contacted Gerben and the NFL, so his story was accurate. See, it’s not so hard.

———

Overall: What a mess. It’s really a case study of how false narratives can spread in no time flat on the internet. Much like that unverified Jets leak from a few weeks back, it’s the kind of situation that’s hard to contain and tends to bring out the stupid in just enough people to create a critical mass of misinformation. I’m glad I was able to nip this one in the bud.

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Design contest reminder: In case you missed it last week, Uni Watch is teaming up with the Portland Pickles — that’s a college wood bat summer team — for a contest to design the Pickles’ “Future Baseball Night” jersey, which will be worn on July 4. There’s a $150 cash prize for the winning designer, along with a free futuristic jersey.

Entry deadline is this Friday, May 3. Full details on the contest rules and entry requirements, along with the full scoop on what “Future Baseball Night” will entail, can be found here.

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Click to enlarge

rafflet ticket by ben thoma.jpg

Raffle reminder: In case you missed it on Monday our friends at longtime Uni Watch advertiser Vintage Brand are once again letting me run a raffle for a lucky Uni Watch reader. The winner will be able to choose any item from the Vintage Brand website (including the canvas print of a Cubs program cover shown above).

To enter, send an email to the raffle address by tomorrow, May 2, 7pm ET. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner on Friday.

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The Ticker
By Paul, covering today for Lloyd

Baseball News: In the wake of film director John Singleton’s death earlier this week, a photo accompanying one of his obituaries showed him wearing a Pirates cap. … Jerry Wolper was watching footage from a 1977 Phils/Padres game in San Diego and noticed that the two base coaches’ boxes had the teams’ names, sort of like a football stadium having the two teams’ names in the end zones. … Former pitcher Fernando Valenzuela’s No. 34 will be permanently retired by all teams in the Mexican League on July 6. … Here’s a Texas player wearing a clear facemask in the 1987 College World Series. Rockies 3B Charlie Hayes wore something very similar in 1994. … Can’t unsee it: The Cubs’ logo has a slight but annoying asymmetry (blame Sean Patton). … Braves SS Dansby Swanson’s batting helmet logo was off-center last night (from Blake Bozeman). … Phil noticed that Reds OF Yasiel Puig has been doing the old trick of strrreeetching his pant cuffs down over the heels of his cleats and impaling them on his back spikes. That move was banned a long time ago, but, like so many things, they’ve given up on policing it. … Milwaukee Bucks C Brook Lopez, who’s from Fresno, wore a Fresno Tacos jersey when arriving for last night’s NBA playoff game in Milwaukee (from Anthony Johnson). … No photos, but an intriguing storyline: On April 29, 1913, the Reds wore White Sox uniforms for a game against the Cubs in Chicago, because their own unis had been left behind during travel (from Frank Bitzer). … Interesting article about a baseball historian’s quest to see if Stan Musial once wore No. 36, instead of his familiar No. 6 (from Tod Meisner). … Speaking of Musial, here’s a shot of him — maybe from spring training? — wearing what appears to be No. 18 or 19! (From @HighSockSundays.) … Here’s a good close-up look at the Braves’ 3D helmet graphics, including the MLB logo and numbers on the back.

Football News: Twitter-er @waynetm41 notes that LB Thomas Davis, who wore the Walter Payton patch while playing for the Panthers, is now a Charger, which means he’s poised to become the first NFLer to wear the Payton patch for two different teams. … Here are the uni numbers for the Colts’ draft class. … If you’re into uni-ranking polls, here’s one that ranks the SEC’s home uniforms from worst to first.

Hockey News: The WHL’s Everett Silvertips are holding a design contest to create G Dustin Wolf’s new mask (from Dave Sizer). … Here’s another article about the matching outfits worn by the Blue Jackets’ wives and girlfriends (thanks, Phil).

NBA News: Even by the usual grifting standards of publicly financed sports venues, the latest developments involving the Pacers’ arena are an absolute scandal. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: When Kareem played for the Bucks, he sometimes tied his necklace to his jersey strap so it wouldn’t flap around while he ran (from Matthew Radican). … The excellent collection of Bucks gameday posters, which we’ve linked to before, has been updated to show April’s games (from Jeff Ash). … Oooh, check out these old shots of former NBA star George Gervin playing with Roma and Manresa toward the end of his career (from @Throwback_Sport). … Cross-listed from the baseball section: Bucks C Brook Lopez, who’s from Fresno, wore a Fresno Tacos (MiLB) jersey when arriving for last night’s playoff game in Milwaukee (from Anthony Johnson). … A Portland company is upcycling unused NBA jerseys into backpacks, hip-packs, pillows, and more (thanks, Phil). … Uni Watch readers presumably already know what the Trail Blazers’ logo represents — but just in case, here’s an explainer.

Soccer News: Sampdoria and Parma have released mash-up shirts ahead of their match next week. … Celtic’s new shirt, which has already leaked, will officially launch today (from Ed Zelaski). … Real Madrid’s new home kit has leaked. … SF City FC is adding a memorial patch for former SF Dons soccer coach Steve Negoesco (from Joachim S.). … Turkish team Alanyaspor retired No. 90 for Czech striker Josef Šural, who was killed in a minibus accident last weekend (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … New pregame jerseys for Louisville City FC (from Josh Hinton). … Forward Madison FC is apparently planning to unveil pink uniforms on Friday (from JM Fisher).

Grab Bag: New Jersey Gov. Philip Murphy has removed the Mississippi state flag from Liberty State Park, which features the flags of all the other states, because the Mississippi flag includes the Confederate battle flag. Several cities and counties in Mississippi, along with all eight of the state’s public universities, have also stopped flying the flag. … The U.S. Navy has new color-coded uniforms for prisoners in the brig. … A Greenwood, S.C., police officer is being disciplined for falling asleep while in uniform. … Amazon has introduced a new version of its logo in American Sign Language. … A Kickstarter campaign is trying to raise funds to reprint the style guide from the 1972 Munich Olympics. … A Philly cop is accused of traveling to Brooklyn, assaulting his girlfriend’s brother, and stealing the brother’s dog — all while in uniform. … Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue will feature, for the first time, a model wearing a burkini and a hijab. That’s a nice nod to diversity and inclusion, although it would be even better if SI didn’t have a swimsuit issue at all. … New logo and name for Marvin Windows and Doors. … Here’s something I think we all saw coming: ESPN will soon discontinue the print version of its magazine. I can add that to the growing list of now-defunct publications I’ve written for. … A new bill awaiting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s signature would allow teen-aged military members to wear their military uniforms at their high school graduations. … There was controversy earlier this week when several U.S. Airmen were spotted riding handicapped scooters and twerking while in uniform. … Speaking of the Air Force, here’s an exclusive look at their uniform office (thanks, Phil). … The sportswear company Champion is getting into the e-sports scene. Additional info here. … New university logo for Cal Poly. … Aussie football news: Richmond star Daniel Rioli helped design a new guernsey that the team will wear on May 25 (from James MacNeil). … The software company Red Hat will unveil a new logo today.

• • • • •

Happy May Day to one and all. And to you Hawaiians out there, happy Lei Day!

64 comments to Lawyer’s Tweet Sparks False NFL Throwback Speculation

  • Dumb Guy | May 1, 2019 at 8:44 am |

    I think the NFL would be a *little* more organized if it were planning some Eskimo games for its 100th season than to apply for the trademark only 90 days before the season starts!

    • Lee | May 1, 2019 at 11:43 am |

      Agreed, that alone would have told me there almost certainly wouldn’t have been Eskimos uniforms this season.

      Lee

  • Dumb Guy | May 1, 2019 at 8:46 am |

    “The Cubs’ logo has a slight but annoying asymmetry ”

    That’s because the “C” is a letter, not a circle. Lots of letters are asymmetric. Wishbone C anyone??

    • RS Rogers | May 1, 2019 at 9:22 am |

      The complaint that the cap logo C is not symmetrical is well-founded; the shape of the letter implies symmetry, so the asymmetry will bother anyone who notices it. There’s nothing inherent in the letter C that would drive that particular bit of asymmetry. If this C had serifs, sure, but it’s a uniform-width, sans-serif, circle.

      But the complaint that the caps of the C don’t point to the center of the shape, that’s silly. As long as the caps are symmetrical, as in the alternate cubby logo, the Cubs C looks better with the caps aligning with a point to the right of center than they do aligning to the center of the implied circle.

  • Dumb Guy | May 1, 2019 at 8:48 am |

    “Amazon has introduced a new version of its logo in American Sign Language”

    Dumb.

    • Agreeable Guy | May 1, 2019 at 8:57 am |

      I agree, Dumb Guy. Do these companies think deaf people can’t read? How insulting.

      • Shaftman | May 1, 2019 at 9:51 am |

        As the father to a HOH (Hard of Hearing) child who is bilaterally aided (both ears), I’ll tell you that anything we do in this world to make more people feel included the better. Whether it’s the Deaf Culture Day the Rochester Red Wings celebrated, the Starbucks sign language store that recently opened, the deaf actress who represents a deaf character in The Walking Dead, or just simply being able to sign ‘Hello’ to a our neighbor who moved in a few weeks ago and is also HOH.

        I know we bag on corporations all the time (and for good reason), but when it comes to inclusion of any type of people/person I try to be less cynical.

        My son has a shirt that spells out ‘Hello’ in ASL (American Sign Language). Yes, he can read, but this is to let others know that he accepts who he is. The same way you (or others) may wear a Mets jersey; you’re not a pro ball player, you’re simply showing support for a community like he does.

        • Pedro N | May 1, 2019 at 1:25 pm |

          I wish we had a “like” option for this comment, well said.

  • Slight Typo Guy | May 1, 2019 at 9:00 am |

    Slight typo in the Ticker Grab Bag. It says “tweking” when it should say “twerking”.

  • Drew B. | May 1, 2019 at 9:00 am |

    I am a Vikings fan. It would have made sense to play as Eskimos (assuming there was not a political correctness issues) in the Metrodome because that actually looked like an igloo. Anyway, I never thought they would wear his uniform even with the speculation. The purple helmets are a dead giveaway.

    More importantly, today’s post highlights the importance of knowing a primary source vs a secondary source. This is an early elementary social studies (social science) skill. In today’s world content does not matter. The only things that matter are headlines and click count. It seems that very few organizations still worry (or consider) protecting their legacy/company name.

  • Ian P | May 1, 2019 at 9:08 am |

    The Eskimo story is a great example of how “journalists” (usually freelancers from user-curated blogs) are taking one-sentence tweets and turning them into 1000 word stories.
    Mike Florio at Pro Football Walk was one of the first to capitalize on it. He would find a tweet or press release and drop 1500 words on the topic – all of it opinion and speculation.

  • RS Rogers | May 1, 2019 at 9:09 am |

    Seems like the key error or misunderstanding is on the question of how the NFL would use the Eskimos IP. Both the application and the NFL statement do strongly imply that the NFL plans to use the Eskimos IP it seeks to register. But the NFL has lots of ways of using its IP, including promotional/marketing materials, in-venue displays like scoreboards and decor, and retail merchandising. The Vikes could have players wear Eskimos caps and sweatshirts one day on the sideline at training camp and then sell those caps, sweatshirts, even jerseys, and fully meet the implicit promises in the application and the statement to Paul.

    • Chance Michaels | May 1, 2019 at 10:14 am |

      Both the application and the NFL statement do strongly imply that the NFL plans to use the Eskimos IP it seeks to register. But the NFL has lots of ways of using its IP, including promotional/marketing materials, in-venue displays like scoreboards and decor, and retail merchandising.

      Absolutely. And there’s also the possibility that the NFL wants to protect those marketing materials and merchandising by preventing anybody else from using the name for a football team. So they cast a wide net.

      • Paul Lukas | May 1, 2019 at 10:22 am |

        My understanding, based on discussions with the IP attorney, is that this type of “casting a wide net” is not legal. It’s essentially squatting. The attorney told me that if you’re applying for a trademark, you must have genuine intent to use it for the purposes stated.

        Suggestion: Those of us who are not IP experts, myself included, should not be analyzing this from a legal standpoint, because we’re not equipped to do so. We should leave that to the experts — which is why I contacted the attorney.

        • swede700 | May 1, 2019 at 3:25 pm |

          As the “Uni-Watch reader” that posted the link yesterday, I very much appreciate you looking into it further. Knowing the “one-shell rule” as well as you’ve often written about in the past, I was truly skeptical as well that it would have been legitimate, but I thought it was important enough to post, even though I don’t often do so. Either way, I do think it would be cool if they could do something like that because I’d love to see a Eskimos-Staleys or Packers-Bulldogs game.

  • Craig D | May 1, 2019 at 9:31 am |

    The Cubs’ ‘C’ isn’t symmetrical, I’m guessing, because the ‘TM’ throws off the balance of the opening. The top end of the C stops the same distance from the ‘s’ as the bottom does from the TM. Take that stupid TM out, extend the bottom slightly to match the top….

  • Mark Graban | May 1, 2019 at 10:39 am |

    That journalist is Jordan Heck? More like Jordan Hack.

    • Paul Lukas | May 1, 2019 at 10:44 am |

      I figured the over/under on when someone would make that joke was about 9:30am. Missed by more than an hour. I’m slipping.

      ;)

  • mike chamernik | May 1, 2019 at 10:48 am |

    You just gotta wonder what the Heck that writer was thinking

    • Kevin Zdancewicz | May 1, 2019 at 5:48 pm |

      +1

  • Jim Howicz | May 1, 2019 at 11:04 am |

    I wish the Payton patch was a helmet sticker. I think it would draw the same attention to the man of the year program and be cleaner from a uniform perspective.

  • mike 2 | May 1, 2019 at 11:12 am |

    Here’s a pretty good primer on the TESS database :)

    https://uni-watch.com/2009/04/19/they-even-trademarked-landrys-hat-patch/

    I can’t believe that was 10 years ago

  • Lee | May 1, 2019 at 11:53 am |

    “Gerben also pointed out that he’s not a journalist and can’t just call up the NFL to ask them about their trademarks, all of which is true.”

    What does that mean? That I, as a non-journalist, am not allowed to call up the Vikings and ask why they just trademarked ‘Duluth Eskimos’?

    I, a non-journalist, have indeed called teams (albeit not this century) to ask them logo and uniform questions.
    Sometimes they answered my questions even.

    Now obviously if you are a journalist, they may give you more consideration and/or you have nurtured a network of direct contacts, but I hadn’t ever considered a non-journalist couldn’t call them up.

    • Paul Lukas | May 1, 2019 at 12:03 pm |

      What does that mean?

      It means that you can’t make that phone call as a random person and realistically expect to receive an answer.

      • Lee | May 1, 2019 at 12:10 pm |

        I’m not going to sit here and argue, but I also know that “you can’t make that phone call as a random person and realistically expect to receive an answer” needs some qualifiers.

        Anyways, I found the lede to be quite interesting today, nice work.

        Lee

        • Paul Lukas | May 1, 2019 at 12:29 pm |

          Glad you liked today’s entry!

          Not sure what “qualifiers” you’re referring to. When I contact the NFL, I can go straight to the media relations dept., because I’m a member of the media. But a regular person can’t do that. A regular person would have to call the main switchboard, where an operator would answer. And then the person would say, “So I’m an NFL fan and I have a question about this trademark application of yours…”

          I’d like to think we can all agree that this would be a non-starter.

        • Lee | May 1, 2019 at 12:59 pm |

          OK… That wasn’t my general experience, but I also haven’t tried to call a team in many many years, I will concede things probably have changed quite a bit.

          Lee

    • Christopher Falvey | May 1, 2019 at 3:00 pm |

      Interesting story. Back in the 1960’s or 1970’s, my dad called the White Sox to complain about… well, a lot of things.

      He was patched into Bill Veeck directly.

      Yes, a lot has changed since then :)

      • Lee | May 1, 2019 at 3:32 pm |

        I made calls in the 1970’s & 80s. No, I never spoke to any owners though!
        I’d ask for “Public Relations”, and generally spoke to someone (no idea where they ranked in their department hierarchy), would ask various questions about their logos and uniforms. Most the time the answers were general (or they didn’t know), but a couple times I had actual conversations with the person.
        I wasn’t sophisticated enough to tell them I was with a magazine or newspaper, nor did it occur to me.

        Lee

  • Will | May 1, 2019 at 12:27 pm |

    There is a lot of divide as to whether the name Eskimos is racist or a slur. A great number of Inuit people are proud of the name while others feel it is a term of respect.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/edmonton-eskimos-name-northern-consultations-1.4731990

  • Rydell | May 1, 2019 at 1:15 pm |

    I never knew the meaning behind Portland’s logo and after reading that I’m sitting here saying “no really, what does it mean?”

  • Pedro N | May 1, 2019 at 1:40 pm |

    The picture of Brook Lopez made me wonder if the NBA still has a dress code. I couldn’t find a definitive answer online. Does anyone have any info?

    • Lee | May 1, 2019 at 1:44 pm |

      I’m no expert, but for travel, I believe the teams set there own guidelines.
      For players on the bench during games, there is an NBA mandated code.

      Thats my understanding.

      Lee

      • Lee | May 1, 2019 at 1:45 pm |

        *their own guidelines

        (ugh)

        Lee

  • Jim Vilk | May 1, 2019 at 1:41 pm |

    Jerry Wolper was watching footage from a 1977 Phils/Padres game in San Diego and noticed that the two base coaches’ boxes had the teams’ names, sort of like a football stadium having the two teams’ names in the end zones.

    I heartily endorse the return of this to a ballpark near you.

    • Paul Lukas | May 1, 2019 at 1:42 pm |

      I disagree. Anything that reduces the amount of grass or dirt on the field is a net negative in my book!

      • Jim Vilk | May 1, 2019 at 1:58 pm |

        If we were talking between the foul lines I’d agree with you. But it’s small and in foul ground.

        Does that mean you also wouldn’t want the Twins to bring back the wonderful old Met Stadium look?
        https://www.ballparksofbaseball.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/met10951.jpg

        • Paul Lukas | May 1, 2019 at 2:04 pm |

          I can accept chalk. But not vinyl/plastic/etc. Hate those team-logo on-deck circles, e.g.

        • Jim Vilk | May 1, 2019 at 2:08 pm |

          Yeah, chalk or paint would be better

  • Phil P | May 1, 2019 at 1:43 pm |

    For the bike racing fans among us: Team Sky became Team Ineos this week, new kit

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/team-ineos-presented-in-yorkshire-by-froome-and-brailsford/

  • Ralph from Windfall | May 1, 2019 at 1:59 pm |

    Kirby Bourne wrote the earlier story about the controversy over the Eskimos name. The more recent story was written by Bob Weber, who is the reporter who contacted Josh Gerben.

    As far as tracking trademark applications, it can be interesting at times to track domain names, particularly .coms. For example, eskimosfootball.com is available. eskimos.com is taken, as is eskimos.ca.

    • Paul Lukas | May 1, 2019 at 2:06 pm |

      Ah, sorry — good catch. Fixed!

  • Tim | May 1, 2019 at 2:06 pm |

    “It’s really a case study of how false narratives can spread in no time flat on the internet.”

    Not the first time. Won’t be the last.

    • Paul Lukas | May 1, 2019 at 2:11 pm |

      And your point is..?

      Are you saying that there’s no point in publishing an account like the one I did today?

      Are you saying that there’s no point in pushing back against unwarranted speculation and irresponsible journalism?

      Something else?

      • Tim | May 1, 2019 at 2:41 pm |

        My point is this is not the first time we’ve seen irresponsible journalism, and it’s highly likely it won’t be the last. There have been plenty of examples of it over the past few years.

        I appreciate the leg work you did.

        • Paul Lukas | May 1, 2019 at 2:53 pm |

          I never claimed that it was either the first or last time we’ve seen these things.

          You could accurately say, “Isn’t the first, won’t be the last” about a near-limitless number of things that are published on this website (and countless other websites) every single day. News story: “Local citizen is mugged in park.” Observer: “Isn’t the first time, won’t be the last.”

          I fail to see the point in making this observation, but I do see that making the observation tends to trivialize, and thereby diminish, the content. If *that* was your intent, why not come out and say so? If that was *not* your intent, I’d ask that you consider the effect of such commentary.

        • Tim | May 1, 2019 at 3:04 pm |

          So we trivialize things by saying they happen all the time?

          My intent was NOT to trivialize, but to say we have seen numerous other cases of irresponsible journalism in our world today. You found this one, investigated it, called it out. You took it as a trivialization of the work you did. I’m saying what you did is the EXAMPLE of doing good work and calling it out when others aren’t doing that.

          Once again, I appreciate your efforts here. There needs to be more of what you did here in a variety of areas of our lives.

        • Paul Lukas | May 1, 2019 at 3:11 pm |

          So we trivialize things by saying they happen all the time?

          Generally speaking, yes, I’d say so, unless we provide supporting context — which you have now done (but which you did not do initially).

          For example, if someone says, “Such-and-such keeps happening all the time, and it’s a growing problem in our society, and we really need to do something about it,” that’s not trivializing.

          But if someone says, “Not the first time, won’t be the last,” yeah, I think that’s trivializing. It basically says, “Been there, done that, whatever, can’t do anything about it, tell me something I didn’t already know.” It feels like the verbal equivalent of a shrug.

          Or at least that’s how it seems to me.

          Thanks for the kind words about the work that went into today’s post — appreciated.

  • Vin | May 1, 2019 at 3:59 pm |

    Paul, I understand your frustrations with how this rumor went off the rails, but I feel like your remarks against the reporter are a bit of a punching down. It’s fine to criticize the organization, but I’m not sure how helpful it is to call out the reporter continually here and on social media–as you referenced, it’s as much on his editor as it is on him.

    As a fellow reporter, we know the industry is in shambles. Reporters are under immense pressure to generate stories and clicks. None of this is an excuse for an irresponsible story or bad journalism, but I try not to take it out on the individual reporter as much as I do the organization that failed him.

    • Paul Lukas | May 1, 2019 at 4:23 pm |

      I actually called him out once on social media, not continually (and also called out the Sporting News at the same time). And if you follow the thread that ensued when I did so, he objected to my characterization of his original article, at which point I invited him to post the text that he scrubbed from his piece so people could see it and decide for themselves if my description was accurate — at which point he went silent. Coward.

      The reality is that he wrote a piece that (a) was inaccurate and (b) didn’t entail even the bare minimum of reporting. Then (c) he scrubbed his most erroneous bits without saying he’d done so. That’s all bad for journalism and bad for the uni-verse. Why exactly should he not be held accountable? If this experience makes him do a better job next time, then good. And yes, as I specifically mentioned in today’s lede, this doesn’t speak well of his editor either.

      With all due respect, when you say, “Reporters are under immense pressure to generate stories and clicks,” you seem to be suggesting that this guy was somehow a victim of a broken system. But is he not also a responsible actor *within* that system? If you can write a bylined, paid piece for a media outlet with a 130+-year history like TSN, you can do the bare minimum to get your story straight and be transparent about it when you fuck up.

      And if you think I’m being hard on him, you should be glad I’m not printing what the trademark attorney had to say.

      • Vin | May 1, 2019 at 6:05 pm |

        All valid points and you certainly reserve the right to defend your characterization of the article.

        That being said, to a certain extent I do view him as victim of a broken system, but you’re correct in that his is also a responsible actor within that system. (FWIW, I have never worked at TSN and have no idea what the atmosphere is like in the newsroom.)

        But the editor needs to be the stopgap here. I didn’t read his initial story, but I imagine it would have been fairly obvious to an editor that there was virtually no reporting done.

        There needs to be accountability for bad journalism. Because of the systemic pressures, I ultimately tend to put liability more on the editor or publication in instances like these.

        Just my two cents! I wanted just to chime in because you’re an important and authoritative voice and I felt the use of that voice was perhaps a bit misdirected.

        We can agree to disagree. I obviously still respect and value Uni Watch and thank you for doing it day in and day out.

        • Paul Lukas | May 1, 2019 at 6:09 pm |

          Fair enough, Vin.

          I realize I’m being a hard-ass here. But regarding the broken system: One aspect of that brokenness is that there are plenty of talented journalists currently out of work. If this guy can’t do the job responsibly, it shouldn’t be that hard to find someone who can, right? With so much talent currently on the shelf, I feel like there’s less reason than ever to tolerate shoddy work.

      • ChrisH | May 1, 2019 at 6:58 pm |

        Paul, you are to be applauded for getting to the bottom of this, and you are correct to call Heck out over his irresponsibility.
        For me, the issues with journalism these days (by and large) are that there are few standards or rules for professional conduct(as compared to any number of professions, including lawyers), blurred lines between news and opinion, and little consequences for ‘malpractice’, aside from maybe issuing an apology/correction before moving on to the next thing.
        Is there any particular experience required to call one’s self/be designated a journalist? Is being published/paid a few times here or there qualification enough to be a news reporter, or is it adequate to just be someone with a blog and a following grabbing onto and running with whatever intel they can from whatever source they can? A higher-education journalism degree is not often a requirement either.
        Increased sensationalism and lousy reporting, such as this Eskimos throwback story, undermines quality and accurate journalism, such as you provide here and in other outlets.
        Keep up the good work!

        • Paul Lukas | May 1, 2019 at 7:47 pm |

          Thanks, Chris.

          For the record, I do not have a journalism degree. I am completely self-taught — a dilettante.

          It would be better if I did have a j-school degree (for a variety of reasons), but the fact that I don’t have one, and yet am still able to maintain some sense of professional standards, shows that the lack of a j-school degree is not an excuse for what you accurately describe as journalistic malpractice.

  • Ian | May 1, 2019 at 4:22 pm |

    The headline story reminds me of a local weather event that went off the rails, and in the end nothing happened.

    A local meteorologist tweeted a screenshot of one of the model runs that showed 14” of snow falling. (Even though every other Met, and every other forecast was showing a couple inches. It was an outlier)

    Because people on social media don’t care about actual content, and focus on pictures and headlines, the tweet (screenshot) got like 30k shares, reactions and comments.

    In the end, about an inch and a half of snow fell, yet the grocery store shelves were empty.

    In this social media driven world, people clamor to be the first one to break any sort of news, real or not, because likes and shares are the new currency.

  • Daniel Tarrant | May 1, 2019 at 7:17 pm |

    For those who didn’t see it or skipped over it, I’d highly recommend the link Paul posted about the stadium/arena funding issues in Indianapolis and other places.

    It really has become absurd and appalling, and I say that as somebody who is not completely against deals being made between cities/states and professional sports teams (my rationale being that at its best it’s a mutually beneficial partnership).

    The article does a nice job of giving some detail as to why these deals are so often unfairly skewed towards the team. The only thing it doesn’t mention is the monopoly power of the major sports leagues…teams know that if a city won’t meet their demands, there is another city that will because the number of teams available is drastically limited.

    • Paul Lukas | May 1, 2019 at 7:50 pm |

      Glad you liked, Dan.

      The author of that piece, Neil DeMause, is a longtime friend and occasional editor of mine. He has an entire website devoted to the topic of stadium/arena financing and has testified before Congress on this issue. Here’s the site:
      http://www.fieldofschemes.com/

      • Daniel Tarrant | May 2, 2019 at 12:12 am |

        Funny you should mention that…I remember, quite a while ago, seeing the book Field of Schemes while browsing at my local library – I remember thinking it was a great title. I’d be lying if I said I read the whole thing, but I definitely skimmed through it and read a few of the chapters that I found interesting at the time. I assume the book was also by DeMause?

        • Paul Lukas | May 2, 2019 at 7:24 am |

          Yup!

        • Pete | May 2, 2019 at 12:07 pm |

          Great article about the arena in Indianapolis and very enlightening overall.

          I would submit that the smartest cities will build arenas ‘on spec’ and whatever they can draw they do. Kansas City built the Sprint Center in 2007 and while it hasn’t got an NHL or NBA Tenant they are successful in getting premier college basketball games, NCAA Men’s Regional Finals and conference tournament. More importantly the city keeps the arena up. Louisville has done the same thing with the YUM! Center (even though, to my dismay, the rumor that an unidentified NBA team would move to said arena and change their name to the Kentucky Colonels did not come to pass)

  • Jeff Van | May 1, 2019 at 11:29 pm |

    Great. Link to a website about stadiums. Another half hour time suck, just what l need. Keep up the great work, Paul!

  • Graham Clayton | May 2, 2019 at 2:09 am |

    The bottom edge of the “1” and the “7” of the Richmond AFL dreamtime jersey being so close together makes it look like the numbers are too far to the left.

  • Pete | May 2, 2019 at 12:03 pm |

    ‘Print is Dead.’
    -Harold Ramos, Ghostbusters, 1984

    Not too far off the mark I’d say.