Whether you’ve reached the end of your rope or merely the end of your week, welcome to Whitt’s End:
After further review, the breaking news on Richie’s Whitt’s Twitter is not confirmed, and therefore reversed. The player did not have season-ending surgery and will not be placed on IR this week. Whitt will be penalized 15 yards and sent to timeout.
Yes, I will own it. But also allow me to explain it.
Last week two independent, reliable sources within the walls at Valley Ranch helped me and 105.3 The Fan piece together and break news on separate, significant Cowboys stories: 1) The Josh Brent accident in which teammate Jerry Brown was killed; 2) The verbal altercation between owner Jerry Jones and defensive tackle Jay Ratliff.
On Monday around 1:30 p.m. those same voices echoed an identical sentiment: Receiver Dez Bryant had a significant finger injury that was going to require season-ending surgery and, simultaneously, his placement on injured reserve. It was devastating, important news. I made a list, and checked it twice.
I was told in no uncertain terms that Dez’s situation would be a medical decision, a pronouncement echoed by head coach Jason Garrett at his afternoon press conference. “Just like the Sean Lee deal,” a source told me. But, I countered, knowing Dez he’ll try to play through anything. “Out of his hands,” said the other source. “Medical decision. Diagnosis is done.”
Minutes later I Tweeted and went on-air with “Dez is done.” Even punctuated it with “Confirmed.” Yeah, I was that sure.
Obviously you and I both know that information was wrong. Dez – despite the initial diagnosis, after visits with three different doctors and equipped with a big white glove that puts the hands on your Mickey Mouse clock to shame – will attempt to play Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Unlike Lee and his injured toe earlier this season, Dez was given a say in whether he played or not. Armed with that info – that Dez is as competitive as any player to ever wear a star on his helmet – the dynamic and my story would’ve changed; My info would’ve never left my lips nor fingertips.
There were multiple people at Valley Ranch preparing for Dez to be placed on the IR as early as Monday and there remain concerns from the executive wing at Valley Ranch from those who don’t think Dez should play Sunday, because he could re-injure the fractured finger and sustain permanent, significant damage. Garrett even reiterated today that surgery/IR remains a possibility depending on Sunday’s events.
I’m going to cringe the first time he attempts to catch a pass, or takes a helmet to the hand.
But none of that changes the bottom line: I was wrong. I still won’t categorize my reporting as irresponsible, but I can’t deny that it was incorrect.
As a reporter who takes pride in getting it right, it’s been a tough week. But to last in this competitive media market at this high of a level for 27 years, you have to develop a thick resume and thicker skin. I’ve leaned on both.
I’ve been wrong before and I’ll likely be wrong again, but way more times than not I get it right. And sometimes even first. Reporters make mistakes: In the last 6 months alone we’ve been erroneously told “Jason Kidd is staying with the Mavericks” and “Jason Witten is signing an injury waiver.”
Lots of folks – including some in the media pretending they had the correct info but somehow chose to sit on it, and others whose next breaking news will be their first – have taken shots at me this week and that’s okay. I’ll be your human piñata. Flail away.
Oh, and if you took my news and dropped Dez from your Fantasy Football team – eff me! – I owe you a beer. Or 10.
Getting involved with Make-A-Wish was the best thing I’ve ever done in my selfish, shallow life. I’m a better person for it and, as of this morning, Leah is a happier teenager despite her life-threatening illness.
On Friday, with the help of Macys, Jay Novacek and, yep, even Santa Claus, I helped send Leah to Valley Ranch. She arrived at the Channel 8 studios in Victory Park thinking she was merely helping kick off Make-A-Wish’s National Believe Day.
Her wish: To meet some Cowboys and go to a game at Cowboys Stadium. Cool kid that she is, Leah prefers the Cowboys from the good ol’ days. (That’s where I came in, lassoing Novacek’s involvement.)
The look on Leah’s face as Novacek approached was the thing that makes life worth living. Priceless. Gives me hope for this cold, cruel world after all. For a moment, a 15-year-old who’s known nothing but surgery and doctors and doom and gloom – and only recently grew her hair back out – was all smiles and zero worries.
After a hug, Novacek revealed that Leah was about to hop on to the Macys bus for Valley Ranch, where this afternoon she watched practice, met players and toured the joint. And on Sunday, yep, Leah and members of her family will be in a suite watching the Cowboys host the Steelers at Cowboys Stadium.
“Oh my God!!” Leah exclaimed. “This is unbelievable. I soooo hate the Steelers.”
Chills. Laughter. And, yep, tears.
Tonight it’s a birthday party/Christmas lights tour throughout Dallas with a bunch of friends. Saturday morning it’s tennis – duh – and then another Holiday party at night. Sunday, official Cowboys Pre-Game Show on 105.3 The Fan with R.J. Choppy and Shan Shariff at Noon from the West Plaza of Cowboys Stadium, then Cowboys-Steelers at 3:25. Special programming note: No Whitt’s End the next two Fridays. RAGE is on vacation from Wednesday, Dec. 19 – Jan. 3, which means I’ll be on a beach somewhere with Sybil. If you can find me, don’t be a stranger.
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