You can't blame athletes/celebrities for building walls between themselves and all of us. Not after what we just did to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
I blame us, the so-called mainstream media, far more than the young men who took advantage of Jones' drunkenness, whipped out a cellphone camera and tape-recorded Jones talking a little (spit) and far more than the editors of Deadspin.com who purchased and aired the video.
We, the mainstream media, committed the real crime. We took the video seriously. The Dallas Morning News wondered whether commissioner Roger Goodell would take action against Jones for doing what men and women having been doing inside drinking establishments since the beginning of time. Sports talk radio took Jones' good-natured, Bill Parcells trash talk way out of context. And, of course, the Worldwide Leader used the Jones video as fresh meat for its 24-hour, dumbed-down debate grinder.
And you wonder why athletes don't want to give us access and view us as a threat?
We don't have a sense of humor. We don't allow athletes/celebrities to be human. We think airing two sides of a one-sided debate is sound, fair journalism. Common sense almost never rules our day.
We have on-air time to fill and columns to write. We need fodder, good guys and bad guys, things that require very little thought.
Jerry Jones did not do or say one thing wrong. Not one. He engaged some fans in common, sports-bar trash talk. It's unfortunate the fans chose to secretly tape-record Jones, but they were probably drunk too. Deadspin makes no secret of the fact that it has zero interest in fairness or placing its exploitive stories in any sort of proper context.
The fans and Deadspin stayed in character.
It was our reaction that was unfair to Jones. We're supposed to be mature and fair. We should've looked at the video, laughed and moved on. If it had to be discussed, we should've explained to viewers/listeners/readers that clearly Jones was just trash-talking Parcells the way Larry Bird might bait Magic Johnson on the basketball court.
Yes, Jones is a billionaire NFL owner. But in his head, he's still an Arkansas football player. He's a regular guy. He gets liquored up and talks crazy.
"Bill's not worth a s---. I love him," Jones said.
It's not hard for me to translate Jones' meaning.
Drunk or sober, I've had a lifelong love affair with the word "motherf----er." It's a term of endearment the way I use it.
"That's my motherf-----er right there."
"That motherf-----er is crazy, y'all."
If I've never called you a "motherf----er" -- man or woman -- it's probably a sign I have no respect for you. If I've never cracked a joke at your expense, it means I don't like you.
Jerry Jones strikes me as that kind of guy. He and Parcells may not be best friends. But I don't have any doubt Jones respects the hell out of Parcells. That's why he was comfortable pretending to bad-mouth Parcells.
Any idiot with common sense realizes that's what Jones was doing.
As for Jones' remark about how he wouldn't draft Tim Tebow in the third round because the Cowboys "couldn't get Tebow on the field," well, that's just Jones being honest. The Cowboys have a starting quarterback (Tony Romo) and Felix Jones when they want to run the wildcat.
Again, Jones didn't do anything wrong. His mistake was engaging fans. And then we, the mainstream media, multiplied his mistake.
I don't blame athletes/celebrities for building higher and higher walls.
This whole thing reminds me of the way we ran Jimmy The Greek out of a TV job because he had a few pops at a bar and offered a harmless, layman's theory on why American black athletes were having success in certain sports.
I was just a kid when The Greek got screwed, but I was pissed then. Few people in the media had the courage to defend The Greek for saying what I'd heard in my father's all-black tavern for years.
Sports celebrities get to be human when they're off the clock. Had Jones made his comments about Parcells and Tebow during an actual interview, I would understand the hysteria. Had The Greek stated his unsophisticated opinion while doing "NFL Today," I would've understood his firing.
But what is happening to Jones is an example of the classic "gotcha" journalism that Sarah "Gal Sharpton" Palin rails against when reading off her hands at Tea Party rallies. (Palin is the female Al Sharpton, a divisive force of nature who travels the country making millions of dollars stirring fear.)
We owe Jerry Jones an apology and all sports fans an honest explanation of why athletes/celebrities have every right to avoid us.
E-mail Jason or follow him on Twitter . Media requests for Mr. Whitlock should be directed to Fox Sports PR .