The New York Jets are preparing to head south to face the Miami Dolphins this Sunday. While the game between two division rivals is always a tough, hard fought battle, Jets linebacker Bart Scott seems ready to get into the fracas already. After practice on Friday, Scott threatened to "Smack the sh**" out of a reporter.
To give you the entire story, the Jets had just finished and were in the locker room when the media was given access to the team. Dan Leberfield of New York Jets Confidential immediately approached Scott and began taking a picture of the linebacker on his cell phone. Scott, who has announced a boycott of the media this season, told Leberfield to stop taking his picture. Leberfield ignored him and continued.
Scott then told Leberfield, "I"ll smack the sh** out of you!" Leberfield responded that if Scott touched him, Leberfield would sue. Scott said that he did not care, and the two men began advancing toward each other when a member of the Jets' public relations team jumped between the two and called for assistance in separating the two.
Now, I know I wrote the headline to pin blame on Scott, but that's more in reference to the line from Jason Taylor years ago, than this actual situation. When you get into all of the details, I'm actually on Scott's side in this. And, since he's a Jets player, that's saying something.
Leberfield took the picture of Scott simply to incite a reaction. Scott has put his embargo on the press because he is a negative press magnet. That's his own fault, but deciding to just not talk to them is his right. Leberfield knows this. He also knows if he can get on Scott's nerves, the publicity will help get people to read his work.
The latest edition of New York Jets Confidential has Scott on the cover, calling him the ringleader of the Jets' locker room circus. Earlier this week, Leberfield took pictures of Scott on his cell phone, getting the linebacker to curse at him. Then, he immediately started doing it again in the locker room yesterday.
According to a USA Today article about this incident,
The accepted code among many [journalists], regardless of team policy, is to not take pictures of a player who is less than fully dressed unless...he decides to do an interview at his locker while going shirtless.
To further the case that this was all a media stunt by Leberfield, as soon as the incident happened, he immediately began calling New York radio stations to talk about it. He, of course, got to plug his work, as well as try to make Scott into the bad guy. He did admit, as Gang Green Nation points out, that there was no reason for him to be taking Scott's picture, other than he wanted to, despite Scott's requests to stop.
Of course, Scott is not innocent in this. He reacted in exactly the way Leberfield wanted, walking right into the trap. Scott has to be more of a professional, and not let some attention hungry reporter get to him.
But, Leberfield was clearly trying to goad Scott into this reaction. For that reason, I agree with Gang Green Nation's assessment, if I am the Jets, I am pulling Leberfield's press credentials. That kind of journalism is unprofessional, and is not needed in an NFL locker room, any NFL locker room.