Cleveland Browns receiver Terrelle Pryor took offense to a question asked of Cody Kessler during the post game press conferences. Pryor was right to be mad.
The Cleveland Browns have enough on their plate to deal with, they don’t need reporters creating more controversy during press conferences.
During Kessler’s press conference, he made reference to the fact that the only way he would come out of the game is if he were forced off the field. He then voluntarily went into his reasons for staying in and fighting with his teammates.
As a part of the discussion, Kessler voluntarily spoke of his brother’s battle with a heart condition. Cody’s brother Dylan had a heart episode. Any time a family member has a health concern it is difficult to work through. Compounding Cody’s ability to deal with it was the fact that he now plays football some 2,600 miles away from his hometown of Bakersfield, CA.
Nevertheless, Cody found the resolve to keep playing when hurting by thinking of the pain his brother was going through. “He’s been through a lot,” Kessler said, adding his sibling remains in good spirits but “it scared me.”
Another part of Kessler’s difficult week was the passing away of his grandmother. Watching Kessler’s demeanor during the press conference, it was clear that his grandmother’s passing affected him deeply.
“It was the first game she didn’t get to see me play, which is tough,” he said as his voice broke. “It’s just stuff that you can’t control.”
As courageous as Kessler’s play is, and he should be commended for his level of play and commitment to his team, this article is not about him. It is about how Terrelle Pryor stood up for his teammate in his press conference.
Immediately following Kessler’s conference, Terrelle Pryor approached the podium. He stated exactly what needed to be stated at the time. “Whoever asked Cody Kessler about his grandma after this loss, that is very disrespectful. I don’t like it. That is not cool.”
“He is my quarterback,” he later added, “I am ticked off. That was very rude.”
Pryor is exactly right. It was exceptionally rude.
There is a line reporters must walk when covering sports. There is a fine line between when the athletes are the story and when the athletes should be respected as people.
Professional Athletes are the Story
On the one hand, athletes, as professional football players, are the story. Despite Charles Barkley’s objections, they are role models. Their actions and behaviors on and off the field provide inspiration for success or they demonstrate the consequences of bad choices. Either way, the very nature of their profession makes them a role model.
In this respect, professional athletes are the story. They are the reason the media finds gainful employment covering professional sports. Thus, when Kessler brings up the situation with his brother, he is unwittingly making that situation a part of his story as a professional athlete. By bringing it up, he opens himself and the situation to questions from the media looking to cover the life of the professional athlete as the story.
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Cody Kessler probably did not mean to make such a personal part of his life a part of the national narrative about his quarterback play. Nonetheless, he opened himself to such treatment by bringing it up. Hopefully, the Browns public relations staff will talk to Cody about ways to keep such things private.
Regardless, what happened at the end of Kessler’s press conference was out of hand. An unidentified reporter asked Cody Kessler, “Can you talk about what has been going on with you personally?”
The question may have seemed appropriate had Kessler been still talking about his family situation. On the contrary, that discussion was over. Kessler had moved on to talking about football. This question was clearly aimed at putting Kessler’s personal struggles at the center of the discussion.
Professional Athletes are People Too
On the other hand, athletes should be respected as people. Kessler had volunteered the information he was comfortable giving. To bring the subject back up was disrespectful and rude.
As a person, Cody Kessler has a right to his own privacy. Admittedly that privacy is significantly less than an average person given his life as a professional football player. Still, his personal life and struggles are not a part of the story of Cody Kessler the professional athlete.
The reporter who asked the question crossed the line.
The reporter in question sought to extract more information from Kessler about his personal life in order to make a part of the football story.
Pryor is right to call that reporter out. It was rude. And as much as Terrelle Pryor did not like, I do not like it.
But it all comes down to an ethical choice. As a reporter there is pressure to get page views. In some cases, the number of page views directly affects compensation. Unethical reporters will sometimes promote sensationalism and stupidity in order to get page views. However, each reporter must draw an ethical line that they will not cross over. How far is a reporter willing to go to get page views?
Apparently some are willing to throw ethics out the door for money. Those same people deserve to have Terrelle Pryor and every professional athlete call them out for what they are.
In the interest of full disclosure: I volunteer my time, energy, intellect and effort for Dawg Pound Daily. I am not compensated. I write because I love football. I write because I love the Cleveland Browns.