I realized that as a certified blogger that I am obligated to act as if I am only aware of Mike Florio's Profootballtalk.com through some sort of forth hand reports of the irresponsible rumors reportedly originating from there. Most of the time we bloggers (and those in the "real" media) act as if he does not exist.
Oh, we may mention him when he links to one of our stories. We may even let slip a little of our secret joy at having PFT's powerful lens briefly focused on us, if just for a moment. But the first rule is: You do not talk about PFT. And you know what the second rule is...
I have come here today to break ranks with my fellow bloggers (which if truth be told, I have rarely been in lock-step with them). I bare my soul to you today and reveal my sin:
I read PFT daily. I read PFT multiple times a day. I have it bookmarked even now.
Now that the burden is lifted, I ask: Where is the shame? By what right is Mr. Florio shunned in the daylight, only to be secretly invited in after the sun is down? What is the secret of his notoriety?
As far as I can tell, once PFT was noticed by the "real media", it was decided by common consent to give no notice of him. "He is not like us", they said. "He is a blogger, whatever that is", they muttered. "Speak not of him and his works, he is but a tiny noise and he will not be heard except through our whim and for our purpose".
Thus it was decided that Mr. Florio would not be heard. Yet they could not ignore him. Nay, they read him daily. Each day they would with trepidation and uncertain fingers type in that dreaded address. They never bookmarked it of course, that would infer significance. So with their computers they viewed the words of Mr. Florio, and sometimes his words became their words. Oh, the words would be changed a little here and a little there to obscure their true source. Sometimes Mr. Florio would get a backhanded credit as a "Internet rumor" or "Internet source"; with "Internet" being the dirty word in the sentence and intoned as such.
You see, they viewed Mr. Florio with the same trepidation that the Dodo should have felt when first they saw a ship approach their island. They feared him and despised him - and they were right to. They had control over the sports agenda. It was theirs to decide what was "news" and what was not. They exercised their right with the arrogance of those born into leadership. Heavy is the burden of protecting the masses against themselves - this they moaned to each other with an air of entitlement.
So mention him they did not, even amongst themselves. Many times before they had smothered a dissenting voice this way. It had always worked before.
But something was different this time. There was this thing - the "Internet", which they found they could neither understand nor control. People choosing for themselves where they get their news! "Don't they understand that these sources are dangerous and ungoverned?", they cried?
The people heard their pleadings and were unmoved by their words. It seems that individuals can be trusted to consistently act in their own interest, choosing what works for them when they can.
This shocked and dismayed the "real media". They decided to ignore Mr. Florio harder. Like Boxer in Animal Farm they just muttered "I will work harder"; this was their way of ignoring events around them that they could not understand.
Then like Boxer, they were betrayed. Betrayed by their patrons; their bosses. "We need to get in on this Internet thing, they say it is where everything is going", said their bosses. "We are going to give away your words for free".
So, horrified by this change in fortune, they dipped their toes into the murky waters of the Internet. "At least", they thought. "Now that we are here, there will be no more need for him".
What they could not know or understand was that now, they were on his turf. They were shocked to find that even with their offerings free for the taking, Mr. Florio still gained subjects. "The people are still choosing him", they moaned.
One day the awoke to find that Mr. Florio's influence had outstripped theirs. The people no longer considered the "real media" to be the arbiter of what was "news".
Their roles switched that day. It was unspoken and unacknowledged, but anyone watching knew.
Bit by bit Mr. Florio was invited into their homes and sheepishly introduced to their guests. They did not expect Mr. Florio to thrive in such an environment. "Our guests do not want his kind in their midst", they thought to themselves. But Mr. Florio won them over too. It turned out that even those who were late to the party still wanted the same thing: Choice.
So where are we today? Mr. Florio commands a worldwide following undreamed of in the pre-internet days. But is Mr. Florio a perfect leader? A beacon of enlightenment?
Sadly no; he is but a man. But he is a common man, educated yes - but not different in spirit than the masses he speaks to. True, he has a tongue cultured by the worlds second oldest profession - but the heart and mind that controls that tongue is of good, common stock. He possesses none of the self congratulatory inbreeding of those he vanquished.
Because of his roots; when he is right - the people listen, and argue.
Because of his roots; when he is wrong - the people listen, and argue.
Wrong or right, he is always relevant.
Where those before him sometimes stumbled into a story, he had a flashlight looking far ahead. Micheal Vick? He saw that first. Reggie Bush? He shouted it out. Spygate? He smell trouble a mile away. The eagerly anticipated demise of Terry Bradshaw? Well, he was wrong about everything from the neck down. Apparently no one is perfect.
So I come here to pay tribute to our acknowledged master, Mr. Florio. May his reign be long and righteous, warts and all.
I will be hearing his words, and I know you will be too. Even if you cannot bear to admit it.