Those who picked up the Boston Herald this morning were treated to some literal “fake news” about New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
This morning, Ron Borges of the Boston Herald filed a column about Tom Brady’s reaction to yesterday’s Jimmy Garoppolo news. Brady’s former understudy is now the highest paid player in NFL history after just a handful of starts for the San Francisco 49ers.
Garoppolo signed a reported five-year, $137.5 million contract. That slightly surpasses the recent mega-deal signed by Matt Stafford.
It also sets the market for quarterbacks in a year when a number of big names are looking for new contracts. Kirk Cousins will likely ink a similar, if not bigger deal as a free agent.
Former MVPs Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan, much more accomplished players than Jimmy G or Cousins, are also likely to get new deals soon. They could both be astronomical, based on what Garoppolo received from San Francisco.
Tom Brady has long been receiving below-market deals, considering he is (arguably) the greatest QB of all time. Throw in reports that there is tension between Brady, head coach Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft, and you could kind of see where he might want to cash in. Brady is currently on a two-year, $28 million deal. He will be a free agent in 2020.
Borges received a text from what he thought was Brady and Garoppolo agent Don Yee, saying that without a new comparable deal, Brady was prepared to sit out all offseason team activities. He used it for the story that was on the Boston Herald backpage this morning.
The only problem? It wasn’t Don Yee, it was “Nick in Boston,” a WEEI caller. Nick called into Kirk & Callahan this morning, and went into detail just how easy it was to trick Borges into running this column. Via ProFootballTalk:
“Somebody tweeted Ron Borges’ phone number and I just picked it up and for some reason I just thought, ‘Hey, I’ll text him and say I’m Don Yee.’ And he just went with it for some reason,” Nick in Boston said. “Here’s the funny part. Well, it’s all funny but here’s the funnier part: He tried to call me three times and I just didn’t answer. But then I was just like, whatever, screw it, I’ll just call him and he’s gonna know it’s not Don Yee. But I called him and I was just like, ‘Hey, Ronnie, it’s Don.’”
Pranks like this happen to reporters, but sticking to journalistic principles, especially on a big story like this, would have prevented something like this from running. However, to make matters worse for Borges, his story stated that he had “sources” for the story, and not just one communication with a person posing as Brady’s agent.
Ron Borges' column on Tom Brady threatening a holdout specifically referred to "sources," plural. WEEI is saying their guy sent Borges a phony text and that's what he based his column on. But did Borges have another source? https://t.co/leyDl2jH3j
— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) February 9, 2018
Kirk & Callahan posted screenshots of the texts that “Nick in Boston” sent to Borges. From the show’s Twitter account.
— Kirk & Callahan (@KirkAndCallahan) February 9, 2018
Obviously it’s not cool that someone went out of their way to prank Borges like this. However, he clearly didn’t do his due diligence at all, and may have straight-up lied about his sourcing, which is a giant mistake.
The Herald deleted the story from its website this morning. However, the damage has already been done in print.
— WBZ Boston Sports (@wbzsports) February 9, 2018
The Herald told WBZ-TV that it is “investigating the matter.” There’s no indication if there will be any discipline for Borges.