The title of this post is not the whole story.
Some of you may or may not know, I work at 970 ESPN in Pittsburgh. I've worked as a producer on the David Todd Show, the afternoon drive show, since February 2013.
About a week or two ago, I received a phone call from an anonymous tipster who asked if we were talking about Martavis Bryant.
Obviously, nobody was talking about the Steelers wide receiver that day and I said "no." He then proceeded to tell me that Bryant would be suspended four games four violating the NFL's Substance Abuse Policy.
Now, anybody who has screened calls for a sports radio talk show know you get the occasional crazy caller, telling you something they heard from his buddy at the bar.
After hearing this news about Bryant, I asked anonymous who his source was on this piece of news. He had no source. I proceeded to play along like "yeah. OK. This is real" to appease him.
Fast-forward to Thursday afternoon as I prepared for the show. While talking with two co-workers, Adam Schefter tweeted that Bryant was facing a four-game suspension.
Now. I've kept anonymous' call in the back of my mind. When the news broke, I was stunned. I told my one co-worker, who does work with the HD Radio station devoted to the Steelers and I was dumb-founded for the hour or so leading up to David's show Thursday.
I did not tell anyone about the call until Schefter broke the news. They were as surprised as I was. Even though the anonymous source was right about Bryant's suspension, what was I supposed to do?
I know several Steelers beat writers who knew NOTHING about this until Thursday afternoon. If I took this guys "sourceless" report and blogged about it or had David talk about it, the local media would have ripped me or him apart for reporting a story without a reliable source. Then again, we'd both look like geniuses with today's news. Either way, I decided to disregard what I thought was a false rumor.
This afternoon, I received a call from the anonymous tipster. Like some callers, I was waiting for him to gloat and tell me I was dumb for disregarding his report.
Instead, he let me know he was the guy who gave me the info a week or so ago, and that he was a fan of David's show. After reiterating that he wasn't just blowing smoke out of his "you know what" with his report on Bryant, he said he'd be calling us again between 4 and 7pm with any new information regarding the Steelers. I kept my condescending "OK" reply and thanked him.
I have the mysterious insider's phone number in my guest book. His number indicates that he is from the Pittsburgh area, but I don't know what to expect as the 2015 season unfolds for the Steelers. Should I trust this anonymous source with any possible, future info he passes along, or be skeptical like I was with his report on Martavis Bryant?
Next time, I'll at least ask for a name (or at least an alias).
Also, this would make for a good "Twilight Zone" episode (if it were still on the air).
Like most in America, I will be glued to college football and the NFL when September rolls around.
But lately, I have found myself watching more soccer as of late. Mainly the Barclays Premier League, and will occasionally peak at an MLS game on Fox Sports 1 or ESPN.
Three years ago, I would have had little to no interest in watching soccer, unless it was the U.S. in the World Cup. Now, I find myself watching the sport beyond FIFA's tournament, and as of last year, have made Premier League games a part of my Saturday and Sunday mornings leading into football. "Our" football.
Like most Americans who tune in to watch soccer, I'll watch the Premiership for a few reasons. First, it's been easier to find on television with NBC Sports carrying games now (and through 2022), and promoting them very well, the quality of talent in the league and the structure of the league.
The idea that teams can be kicked out with relegation was one thing I found intriguing about the Premier League, and the entire league system where teams are constantly moving up and down. Imagine if relegation existed in baseball or football? The Pirates would have been relegated to a lower league several times during their two decades of losing. No more tanking for high draft picks in the NFL if defunct leagues like the USFL and UFL still existed as lower tier leagues in American football?
Premier League soccer functions like Major League Baseball, but has the popularity of the NFL in America. No salary cap means the teams with higher payrolls are more likely to succeed, and those in the middle or on the bottom work with what they have.
Soccer, unlike football, is commercial free during the two, 45 minute halves. Football has its fair share of T.V. timeouts that constantly stop action (especially when they go to another commercial after a kickoff, after just taking one after a score!). But hey, that's how they make money. One other thing I have noticed about games. When they say they are going to start at a certain time, they start at that time. Too many times college and NFL games will start 15-20 minutes after they were supposed to begin. Soccer matches are usually done within two hours.
My parents can't get over the idea that the clock never stops, what injury time is, and what offsides in soccer is. Also, with football becoming more offensive-minded, they wanna see score bigger than 1-0.
I got over the whole "the scores are too low" thing a while back.
Soccer is a simple game that has had little to no rule changes since its inception. After watching it for a while, you get to know the rules, and with the five hour time difference, it fills your weekend morning schedule on television, that is usually landscaped with magazine programs and your standard pregame shows for whatever sports are on that afternoon.
In no way am I a soccer junkie. I can't name every player on a particular team in the Premier League. I'm just casually watching, learning more about the game every time I tune into a match.