There have been two stories involving Donovan McNabb that have come out in the past two days.
In one of them, what happened is clear. Boxer Bernard Hopkins told reporters that McNabb was "tan," not black because of the quarterback's middle-class upbringing. There is no dispute that Hopkins, an Eagles fan, said this since his remarks took place at a press conference with cameras present. We have the recording.
Hopkins' comments drew near-universal condemnation and a denial from McNabb's agent. Generally, the reporting and blogging on all of this was pretty straight forward, although one site went over the line a big with this headline:
Boxer Bernard Hopkins: Donovan McNabb Is A House-Negro
Hopkins never said that and the headline was clearly made to be provocative.
The other incident, of course, is the report that McNabb refused Mike Shanahan's request to wear a wristband in order to help him call the plays in the huddle. If you're not familiar with the story and the followup denials, this my third straight post on the subject so you can look here and here.
The story was originally reported by the Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan in Washington. They cited anonymous sources who they believed to be very credible for the story. Subsequent reports from Chis Russell of ESPN 980 and Kelli Johnson of Comcast SportsNet (disclosure: CSN Washington owns this site and employs me) said that their sources said that the story was untrue. Brian Mitchell, who also is a host on 106.7, tweeted that he had talked to McNabb and that he had denied that this ever took place.
The dueling reports (including me saying in a post in a comments of the first post on the subject that I was 99% sure that the story was true) became good lockout-time fodder first for Dan Steinberg on the DC Sports Bog and then for Mike Florio in Pro Football Talk (more disclosure: PFT is owned by NBC Sports, which is affiliated with CSN Washington).
Meanwhile, Redskins fans don't know what's up. I suppose it's nice to have dueling sources from which to choose so that you can choose whichever story fits your point of view. But it doesn't do much to advance knowledge about the team.
Perhaps all of this would not have come up if the NFl was not in lockout mode, making for an extremely slow news period. It's hard to say for sure but it seems to me that this would be a pretty interesting little nugget no matter what else was going on.
There have been complaints from fans that this all was ginned up to generate ratings and page views and the like. I can only speak for myself, but that point of view is putting the cart before the horse. I wrote about it because I thought that people were interested in it. Yes, that interest generates clicks and as this blog is now part of a business that keeps a very close eye on such metrics so those clicks are important. But if people aren't interested in reading about the subject you can hope for page views but they just won't happen.