Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio talks like a guy who knows how the sports press works. In a Slate story on how NFL scribes swallowed the nonsense of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick’s $100 million contract, Florio is quoted thusly:
“The agent calls a member of the media to say the contract is done and gives them the figures,” he says. “The reporter doesn’t want to get scooped, so they rush to get it out on Twitter. They file a story, and then they move on.”
As the piece notes, Vick is getting just a third of the ballyhooed amount — $35.5 million — in guaranteed money. Much of the money that lies between the guaranteed amount and the widely hyped amount is money that will likely never see the encrypted contours of Vick’s bank account.
Even so: A Google search of “Michael Vick $35 million contract” yields 107,000 results. A Google search of “Michael Vick $100 million contract” is good for 1.63 million results.
Why isn’t the guaranteed money the standard in reporting such deals? As Slate points out, the big figures are in the interest of the player, the team and the agent. In other words, the triumvirate of NFL beat sourcing. You don’t want to cross those guys.