If you’re reading this, you’re probably a Redskins fan. You understand. And so if you were at a Hampton Roads volleyball tournament with your 16-year old daughter, and you were grabbing breakfast at the Embassy Suites before heading over to the gym, and you saw Jim Haslett hanging out in the breakfast room, you’d probably want to say hello, too.
Denny — who says he ran into this exact situation earlier this month — started walking away, not wanting to bother the defensive coordinator. Then, “at risk of making a fool of myself,” he changed his mind and went to say hello. He found Haslett to be friendly, down-to-earth, and willing to talk to a fellow volleyball parent about their shared interest in the Redskins.
“I was pinching myself the whole time I was talking to him,” Denny recently told my colleague Mike Wise on 106.7 The Fan.
Why was Denny on the radio? Well, because at some point, this changed from a story about Rod Denny, Redskins fan, into a story about “Rodskins,” a loyal community member from the Hogs Haven blog.
Denny didn’t go up to Haslett to get a blog post, and he never identified himself as a writer of any kind. They chatted about quarterbacks, of course. And after he and Haslett talked for about five minutes, Denny went to the volleyball tournament, telling other parents that he was blown away by Haslett’s openness and humility.
A few days later, he typed up an account of their conversation as a Hogs Haven “Fan Post,” distinct from the front page of the site, which is run by the blog’s editors. He told his readers how Haslett said the Redskins were cool on Matt Flynn, interested in Peyton Manning, and strongly considering trading into St. Louis’s draft position.
“I was just thinking I was blogging with a couple pals on Hogs Haven,” Denny told me. “I mean, I had to tell somebody. That’s part of the joy of it. I guess Hogs Haven has much more of an impact that I ever knew.”
Indeed. Because not long after Denny’s post went up – with Haslett’s specific takes on the team’s various quarterback options – Rich Campbell from The Washington Times called Haslett. The defensive coordinator, not surprisingly, denied knowing the Redskins quarterback plans.
Just talked to Jim Haslett about Hogs Haven post. He said: “This must be a joke.” As defensive coordinator, he denies knowing Skins QB plans
A rush of reporters quickly followed up with Haslett – including those from The Post, the Examiner, and both local sports-talk stations.
Mike Jones: Reached Jim Haslett about Hogs Haven post quoting him on Skins QB plans. He said “I don't know what our plans are. I worry about the D”
John Keim: Like others, talked to Jim Haslett. Basically, called the report about him divulging QB plans “ridiculous.” His wife doesn’t remember him saying anything about qb plans to anyone.
Grant Paulsen: Reached Jim Haslett, via phone. He denies having knowledge on the Redskins’ QB situation that the HogsHaven report cited him for providing.
Chris Russell: As reported on ESPN 980 -- just spoke to Redskins DC Jim Haslett in response to a story that was POSTED on HogsHaven.com about a fan encounter in which Haz allegedly revealed the Redskins offensive off-season plans - Jim called me & is very upset about the story. He told ESPN 980 among other things “I don’t even know the offseason plan....You think I am going to tell some guy I don't even know?”
Meanwhile, other members of the Hogs Haven community checked in with Denny, to ask if he was doing ok. He didn’t know what they were talking about.
“I don’t have time to sit there and see who’s saying what about me,” he said. “There were 250 or 300 comments on my post before I knew what was going on.”
Denny, who works as a pastor in the Charlotte area, stands by his account of the conversation, but he understands why Haslett would distance himself from the item.
“When I saw it was getting this much publicity I felt bad, and my wife got on me about it too,” Denny said. “I had no intention of going undercover or getting him in trouble or anything like that.”
But this whole tale yet again shows the wacky ways that sports news can happen in 2012. A volleyball tournament, a hotel breakfast buffet, a Fan Post from “Rodskins,” a tweet, a rush of phone calls from beat reporters, and suddenly the defensive coordinator of the Redskins is responding to a news report from a pastor in North Carolina.
“If that were me and I found out some guy had put it out on the airwaves, I would probably deny it too,” Denny told Wise. “Basically all it was was two guys talking football, and I really had no idea that it would be this big.”