Friday, June 6, 2014

Some A-Holes Said I Whiffed It. I Didn't, So Kiss It.

I had no plan to pursue anything else related to George Whitfield, Jr. until today, when The Big Lead website carried a link to Bruce Feldman's story, with a rather ominous headline, especially from my point of view. 

Actually, guys. I, nor the "Louisiana paper" whiffed at all. Not only has there been nothing presented to counteract my article, Mr. Whitfield himself has cemented the facts with his comments to Jason Whitlock in Whitlock's podcast from Thursday.

Let's lay cards on the table.  While researching George Whitfield, Jr. for an article I was working on, I stumbled upon the fact that an Arena team George Whitfield, Jr. claims he played for never employed him and had no idea who he was.

I report that and other discrepancies. 

Over the next 5 days:

  • Whitfield's Biography/Resume' features more flip flops than Hangout 2014
  • Whitfield texts me at 4:57 am on Sunday morning to complain about the article. Texting at 4:57 in the morning? Did the Call of Duty tournament get over early?
  • We talk for over thirty minutes Sunday. Whitfield actually asks me:
    • Say you trained all year and got a tryout with the Kansas City Chiefs and you make it to mini-camp and they release you. You're fired up because you made it that far, so you train harder and get a call the next year from the Saints for a tryout. Do you put that on your resume'?
    • Me: No.
    • George: Why not?
    • Me: Because it's not employment. I put what paid me a wage on my resume.  I had a role in "Leaves of Grass," with Ed Norton. I tried out for another movie.  Didn't get the part. I tried out though! Can i put that other movie on my resume'
  • Bruce Feldman writes an article for Fox Sports Website, or was it ESPN, or maybe CBS. With Bruce, it's hard to keep track.  Any-who, Feldman's article throws a few things against the cupboard, but none stick. 
    • First, it's interesting the two people Bruce was able to track down just happened to have distinct recollections of Whitfield from over ten years ago! How did Bruce find these guys? 
    • then Chicago Rush head coach Mike Hohensee, a highly respected 28 year veteran of the Arena Football League tells Feldman this... yeah we had Whitfield in training camp but he didn't make the team.
      • FYI Bruce: That's what I said in my article. HE DIDN'T PLAY FOR CHICAGO!
    • Feldman then turns to another highly respected Arena League figure, Matt Sauk, who played and now coaches Arena ball. Sauk tells Bruce that heck yeah, he remembers George from their days in Louisville! 
      • GREAT!! He MUST have been on the Louisville team! Sauk remembers him!! 
        • And this is where the story is so good, my toes actually just tingled a bit. George Whitfield did indeed play in one game for the Louisville Fire (Quick caveat: I used as one of my sources for the original article. It is a database for any player who logged a regular season game in AFL or af2). As Bruce snidely remarks in his article on "There is actually a story on that site mentioning Whitfield playing quarterback for the Louisville Fire in a 2004 exhibition game and throwing two touchdowns."
          • Boom! I just got served! A load of crap. First, it was an exhibition game! NOT A REGULAR SEASON GAME. WHITFIELD DIDN'T GET PAID TO PLAY. Second... oh boy. The game was against "The All-Japan Samurai Warriors".  A Japanese football team that had practiced 8 times together and was playing Arena Football for the first time.  The Whitfield led charges handled the eastern invaders 36-26.
            • Bruce...I hit my only three-pointer in a game against the Harlem Globetrotters at then-CenturyTel Center in Bossier City as a guest-member of the Washington Generals. Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker had one rebound but was scoreless.  If you want to include that in your next article feel free.
          • Uh Oh. Bruce contacted one of my sources, Shreveport's own, Raymond Philyaw who starred in the Arena League, including a two-year stint in Chicago. I like Ray a lot. He's a solid dude, living in San Antonio now. When I interviewed Ray, he said he had never even heard of George Whitfield, who had listed Chicago (Coach Hohensee) as one of his playing sites. A few minutes after I talked to Ray, he called back to tell me he googled George Whitfield and recognized the dude. "He did try out in Chicago. I remember him. He didn't make the team."  Bruce makes it sound a little more dastardly with his dramatic quote from Philyaw. "I told him I remembered who George was and remembered him being in Chicago. He (me) had time to correct it."
            • SERVED AGAIN!!!
            • wait. Here is what Ray texted me after I asked him about Feldman quoting him in his story.

  • Jason Whitlock features George Whitfield on Whitlock's podcast that was published Thursday. (approximately 6:30 into the interview):
    • I made it on the Chicago Rush practice squad. An Arena team, three-four weeks later, they let you know, ‘The Ride is up.’ But there’s an opportunity In Louisville. I get down to Louisville, an arena 2 team. They’re only making 3-400/week. You try to pursue it, you go after it. THAT WAS THE ONLY TIME I GOT INTO AN ARENA GAME in four different cities. We played a Japanese all-star team 
      • Thanks to Whitlock's interview with Whitfield, the proof that the biography/resume' was not truthful and my article is correct has been substantiated.  SWEET!
      • Whitfield then Whitlock: From then on, I had maybe a cup of coffee in Memphis, then a little preseason deal in Shreveport. Didn’t make it onto those teams and didn’t get paid.
        • Straight from Whitfield's mouth to my perky ears! 
          • George Whitfield, who admitted to me in our conversation Sunday that he did NOT get paid and did NOT play in a regular season Arena League game now had stated publicly that he indeed never played an official Arena League game.
  • oh... about that. Why is Bruce rallying to Whitfield's rescue?

    • Whitfield is one of the subjects of Feldman's book coming out in November. A coincidence.

There have been discrepancies aplenty with Whitfield's Bio/Resume before my article ran on Sunday and since then.  Oh, Look! Here's one now!

Whitfield's bio isn't the only interesting piece of fiction. 

Several articles, by various reporters over the last few years state that Whitfield played in the Arena League, listing 4 different teams. Bruce Feldman (Hey Bruce!!) when he was employed by CBS Sports wrote this:

After graduation, he joined Kirk Ferentz's staff at Iowa as a graduate assistant, but left the Hawkeyes program after one year to resume his playing career. Whitfield bounced around Arena Football for three seasons, playing for the Chicago Rush, Shreveport Battle Wings, Louisville Fire and Memphis Xplorers.  

Another reporter describes the meteoric rise of Whitfield to QB Guru status on and mentions him taking the field for four Arena League teams:

The arena league called in 2003 and his inner quarterback yearned for another chance to play. He pin-balled from the Chicago Rush to the Louisville Fire to the Memphis Xplorers. He toiled for a team -- the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings -- that had almost as many letters in its name as players on its roster.

Toiled for a team? Worked "long and hard" for a team that no one remembers him participating with? The owner, coach, general manager... nobody rememebers him in Bossier-Shreveport. Where did the reporter get the idea Whitfield "toiled" for the Battle Wings?

As part of "The Week That Was," I received a call from a major college coach with strong NFL ties on Tuesday.  This coach, who knows Whitfield, was curious why I wrote the article. We had a 26-minute conversation that included these nuggets of info: 

  • Coaches knew, even back in the day, that Whitfield never played in a real game. Every quarterback has stats, wins and losses attached to him. George had no stats. None.
  • When I presented the facts to Coach---and asked, what he would have done if he had discovered the falsities on Whitfield's resume'/bio, ignore it or report it. He said he understood why I reported it.
  • He also asked if it was possible to do a follow-up. George is a good guy and it would be nice to let him clear his name.
  • i explained that i offered George a chance to let me do a follow up.  He did not accept my offer.
  • By the end of the conversation, the Coach asked if we could let this fade away. I agreed, saying it would be best for everybody, especially since Whitfield had altered his resume' to better represent what actually transpired since the article ran Sunday.
That's exactly what I planned to do, even after Mr. Feldman's article appeared on Fox Sports website Tuesday and we had an exchange via Direct Message. 

But then... the Big Lead had to say I "Whiffed" on the story.

This isn't a home run story.  This isn't a game-changing story. But... this sure as hell isn't a "whiff".  I made contact. Solid, sweet, charge-through-my-arms-as-the-ball-gets-smaller-disappearing-into-the-gap type contact.

While I'm thinking about it... there are still a few clouds on Whitfield's horizon. I'm sure Bruce will clear these up.

We know Whitfield coached at Iowa in 2001.  

If Whitfield bounced around the AFL for three years, as Feldman wrote, Whitfield's pinballing would have ended no later than 2005, and as early as 2004. 

The Cleveland.Com article indicates Whitifield's Arena career started in 2003.  

Which is it? Did Whitfield start his tryouts in 2001, 2002 or 2003? 

I've stated many times that I hope George Whitfield, Jr. has a long, prosperous career working with quarterbacks.  My reporting has nothing to do with Whitfield's ability to tutor, cultivate and guide quarterbacks. 

Work experience that includes names: Roethlisberger, Newton, Luck and Manziel doesn't need a trumped up bio/resume'.  The work speaks for itself. 

Hopefully George Whitfield learns that very soon. 

This local reporter, who had the facts straight from the jump, would like to remind those on a "higher tier".  Reporting is reporting. Shilling is shilling. 

I'm a reporter. 

What are you?