Early Saturday afternoon news broke that seven-time Super Bowl Champion and future Hall of Famer, Tom Brady, had retired from football after 22 seasons. ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington tweeted out the report that created chaos in the sports world at 2:29 P.M. on Saturday. Posts from fans, players, and media flooded Twitter and Instagram wishing Brady well and recapping some of the most incredible moments from his legendary career. The NFL’s official accounts even posted tributes to the Buccaneers’ quarterback and congratulated him on his career.
However, an hour after the initial report was made, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer tweeted out a text conversation with Brady’s agent, Don Yee, in which Yee said that the quarterback will address the situation soon and that, “Tom will be the only person to express his plans with complete accuracy.” If you thought the original news of Brady’s retirement sent the internet into a frenzy, the news of him not officially hanging them up nearly broke it. In the hours following the news, reporters scrambled to get more from people close to Brady. A number of statements were released from Bucs’ GM, Jason Licht, Head Coach, Bruce Arians, and even Tom Brady Sr. all stating they had not been informed of any retirement yet and know that Brady is far off a decision.
What we can learn from this media blunder is that sources are not always reliable and that breaking a story of this caliber shouldn’t be a rush to get the news out first, but rather to verify all aspects of the story and put out a factual report and update it as you gather more credible information if needed. In today’s world, sports media has become a race for who can break the news the fastest and who has the best sources. I firmly believe that the most important aspect of any story is its accuracy. The only person to benefit from breaking the news first is the reporter. If their report is wrong, both the news consumers and the reporter suffer from misinformation.
While there is still a possibility Brady retires this offseason, we won’t know for a little while longer.