When will we learn?
Marc Malusis, the mid-day co-host of a show on legendary sports station WFAN in New York, reported Wednesday morning that a source told him the Browns and Vikings were in discussions on a trade that would send star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to Minnesota for a second- and fifth-round pick. Malusis tweeted the “trade is not done, but the deal is being discussed.”
This was met with denials from other sources and guffaws from fans on both sides. Mary Kay Cabot, who has done an oustanding job covering the Browns for many years for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, tweeted that she had received a one-word answer from a source close to the Vikings about the report. The response: False.
As someone who covers the Browns, Cabot was doing her job in checking out the rumor and passing on the response from her source. But as someone who covered an NFL beat for eight years, including the Vikings for six, there is another side to this. NFL teams won’t think twice about lying to you both on and off the record, especially if the information being checked on is something they don’t want out.
Odell Beckham Jr. to the Vikings?
It makes sense. pic.twitter.com/ALhpe21cIB
— SKOR North (@SKORNorth) April 15, 2020
I’ve often said these can be classified as “sports lies,” meaning the people doing the fibbing aren’t necessarily bad folks. Sports is filled with people trying to pass on misinformation both on and off the field so why would anyone with the Vikings say, “Geez, you know what? You got us. We are talking to the Browns about Beckham and let me give you all the details.”
Also, remember this about Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. This is the same guy who in 2013 told us he had “no intent” of trading wide receiver Percy Harvin and then turned around and dealt him to Seattle. Spielman struck again this February when he said “there’s no reason to anticipate (Stefon Diggs) is not going to be a Minnesota Viking,” and less than a month later traded the wide receiver to Buffalo.
Spielman was never going to be truthful on or off the record in either situation and when it comes to the Beckham rumors the same thing applies. This in no way means the Vikings are going to trade for Beckham, a talented but mercurial star player who has the potential to make the trouble Diggs caused last season seem like a walk in the park.
Diggs wanted out in large part because he did not like the offense of run-first Mike Zimmer, so would Beckham be any happier in offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s scheme? Probably not.
But to think that Malusis is somehow making up Beckham to the Vikings or has no idea what he’s talking about, is giving way too much credit to a league full of teams that will tell mistruths just to keep in practice. Remember, that next time your favorite team denies something, either on or off the record.
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