We in the media seem to be in constant wonder about why our interview subjects become wary of us, about why they feel "burned" by us. At the Super Bowl this week, there was a pretty good case in point.
It's not exactly the most egregious situation ever to hit sports journalism, but it is a at least a classic case of making a mountain out of a molehill (yeah, like that never happens at the Super Bowl).
Someone asked the New York Giants' Plaxico Burress what he thought the score of the game would be. He said he thought the Giants would win 23-17. Of course, Burress' first mistake was in giving a score in the first place. For a player to do that is just asking for trouble. And of course, the first thing that happened after that was that someone asked Patriots quarterback Tom Brady what he thought of Burress' prediction.
"We're only going to score 17 points?" Brady replied with a laugh. "OK, is Plax playing defense? I wish he had said 45-42 and gave us a little credit for scoring more points."
The main thing to realize here is that Brady said this WITH A LAUGH. The whole thing, from Plaxico to Terrific Tom, was done in good humor, but the media made way too much out of it. The Associated Press said Brady "scoffed" at Burress' remarks.
"Well," Burress said later, "23-17 was the first thing that came into my head."
And besides, as both players said later, you still have to play the game (and as Kansas City coach Herm Edwards is famous for saying: "You play to win the game!").
"I learned a lesson early in my career," said Brady. "No matter what you say during the week — and God knows we say a lot this week — we're going to be focused on going out and winning this game. We're confident, but I don't think we share our thoughts with everybody."
Burress: "I don't understand what the fuss is about. Nobody wants to lose."
Keep this stuff though, and no one will want to talk either.