Unnamed sources can lead to scoops. A hidden identity allows one to give more information with the veil of anonymity.
A hidden identity can also mark a source as a coward.
On Nov. 8, ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported that two New York Giants expressed their dislike for current head coach Ben McAdoo.
“McAdoo has lost this team. He’s going 80 percent on Saturdays (in practice) before we get on a plane, it’s wild,” the player said, according to a report from NJ.com. “Changed our off day. He’s dishing out fines like crazy. Suspended two of our stars when we need them most. Throws us under the bus all the time. He’s ran us into the ground and people wonder why we’ve been getting got.”
Another player added that “guys just don’t care anymore” about the season, according to the report.
The Giants, with a near-league-worst 1-8 record, had enough problems without these comments being made. The real problem, though, lies in that the players hid their identity from the public.
They were brave enough to throw their coach under the bus, but then they hid and could not take the brunt of their actions.
Fellow teammates called out the two anonymous players, including Damon “Snacks” Harrison.
“I don’t understand why anybody would think that — to address your point why Coach McAdoo has lost the locker room — that’s false,” Harrison said, according to the New York Post. “Whoever was anonymous, whoever said it, is a coward. Flat out.”
Other players, such as Landon Collins, Jonathan Casillas and Justin Pugh all backed up Harrison’s statement, some even calling the unnamed players a “rat.”
The players stressed that it did not make sense for the players to hide their identities because McAdoo has an open-door policy for them to address any problems.
In this case, that is what makes them cowards.
Media members like ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski make a living off of anonymous sources, but those sources stay unnamed for a reason.
Those sources have trust in Wojnarowski because he has established himself as a trustworthy reporter. Those sources also do not demean others.
Anderson is not at fault for using unnamed sources; to those players, they saw her as trustworthy. They were not breaking news, though – they were escalating a problem that could have been taken care of behind the curtain of the public. Now, everyone knows that the Giants’ problems extend beyond an atrocious record.
The team has said it intends to find which players made the comments and the players agree that they will make sure to find out. All Giant players backed up their coach until the two unnamed players’ comments were released.
What did the two players want to accomplish by talking to Anderson anonymously? What were they trying to prove? Maybe they wanted to expose their coach, or maybe the comments were made in the heat of the moment.
It is a possibility the players regret what they said now that they have had time to reflect on their actions. If the players truly wanted to help, they would have gone straight to McAdoo and addressed their problems with him.
Instead, the players felt they were above the team and went straight to the public. They hid their faces. Becoming an anonymous source gives a player too much power.
Anonymous sources in the locker room do not solve problems; they just go outside the norm to get unknown information to the public. Now, the unknown is becoming the norm. People accept what an anonymous source says without batting an eye.
No real change is being made unless a name is being put to a face and that might be something the unnamed players realize now. In this case, actions could have spoken louder than words. The two ‘cowards’ chose hidden words.
There is a time and place for anonymous speaking, and calling out a coach is not one of them.
Elizabeth Swinton is a broadcasting and visual media major from Linden, N.J. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eswint22.