Colin Cowherd Went Way Out of Bounds

ESPN personality Colin Cowherd went over the line by drawing conclusions about how A.J. Burnett's personal life affected his play on the field (Photo Courtesy: ESPN MediaZone)

On his Wednesday radio program, ESPN personality Colin Cowherd alleged that Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett struggled through a career worst season last year because of the distraction of his on-going divorce. One problem with Cowherd’s theory, according to Burnett’s agent, Darek Braunecker, the pitcher was not, and is not, going through a divorce.

Lets forget about the factual errors for a second, even if Burnett was going through a divorce it is irresponsible of Cowherd to assert that IT was the cause of his poor season. There are a million reasons he could have struggled, for a Sports personality to conclude it was for one reason in his personal life is careless and harebrained.

Whether it’s true or not is irrelevant, Cowherd didn’t know it was true, he drew his own conclusions about how someone else was affected by their own personal life. Ludicrous.

I’ve worked closely with many athletes over the years and more than a few told me when they had problems at home the place they wanted to be was on the field. It was the one place where they felt safe, surrounded by friends and could focus on a specific task. This is not to say a divorce would have in fact helped Burnett, it’s to say everyone is different and Cowherd had no right to make a personal conclusion.

To his credit, Cowherd half-heartedly retracted his statement:

“I am glad that he’s not getting divorced. I’ve done it. It’s debilitating. I couldn’t effectively come to work and perform. I don’t wish it on anybody. But my source ultimately said there was a divorce. And the agent strongly denies that. That is completely on me. I’m not being told to say this by anybody at this company . . . It’s my bad. It’s on me. I hope and think A.J. Burnett will bounce back big next year.”

When you work in the Sports industry you are literally bombarded with rumors and innuendo, sometimes from very reputable sources. At these times you have to use your journalistic instincts and ask yourself  ‘is this good information for me to consider, or good information for me to share with an audience’.  When you have your hands on a product that gets broadcast to millions of people, your words have power, serious power. You become ‘the truth’ to the people watching. That can not be taken lightly.

After Cowherd’s radio show many listeners went about their day with newly formed opinions about A.J. Burnett, opinions Burnett didn’t deserve.

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Article by Brian Clapp

Authors bio is coming up shortly. Brian Clapp tagged this post with: , , , Read 112 articles by
4 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Pam says:

    Great stuff Clapp. so true that in this age of sports talk radio anything goes out there without checking all sources. I’m a huge Cowherd fan, but this one makes him look really bad.

    • Brian says:

      Thanks Pam – your right, hosts have a lot of time to fill and it’s easy to slip into the trap and step, even just so slightly, over the line. I’ve come to expect better from guys like Cowherd, who I agree most of the time seems very responsible.

  2. craig says:

    His comments (Cowherd’s) show the inherent danger of having so many sports media outlets today – present company excluded, of course. Many ‘reporters’ feel they can say whatever they want and they won’t be challenged because they’re in a p…osition of power: they have a microphone in front of their faces and the rest of us don’t.

    What I want to see is ESPN’s reaction. Most reputable media organizations tend to get a little upset when their employees libel/slander someone.

  3. Gloria says:

    I am glad he had the courage to retract what he said and take responsibility for it. Unfortunately that doesn’t repair any damage done nor does it restore that reporter’s credibility for me.

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