Depending on your tolerance for rumor and innuendo, the weeks immediately prior to the NFL draft can be a exciting or discouraging...maybe both if you get a certain amount of entertainment out of the gossip. No player ticketed for the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft has had more rumors swirling around him lately then Auburn DT Nick Fairley.
Yesterday, his name came up again and again as news surfaced of a missed dinner with brass from the Miami Dolphins. That news fed right into the character concerns Fairley got stamped with early on in the draft process. For fans of the St. Louis Rams, falling stock presented a discussion point as one 2011 NFL mock draft had him slipping to the middle of the first round.
But now comes more information about the dinner incident with Fairley and the Dolphins, from Jeff Darlington of the Miami Herald. Turns out, Fairley didn't really skip dinner in the sense of blowing it off. Surprise, a report on the internet got twisted beyond proportion. I'll let Darlington's tweets reveal what really happened.
Team source says Ireland invited 5 guys to dinner after workout. Fairley & another didn't have place to stay so they drove back to Atlanta.
The workout took place 2 hours away in Alabama. Dinner was optional, team source said. Ireland & Sparano weren't stood up or stuck alone.
I'm told other players at dinner were making a big deal about it. Ireland and Sparano didn't really care since the excuse made decent sense.
Context is everything, but it's usually the first casualty in the rapid fire judgments of the internet media age. I'm trying to avoid the temptation to start finger wagging. But what's the point, really. Maybe this is just the result of the classic smoke screen trope, thrown out by teams hoping to reconfigure the shape of the draft. This case is more likely the event of internet rumor mongering and the now outdated need to be the first to "break" a story.
I'll spare you the lessons learned from years of experience working in new media, including six years running TST and more than a decade in another world. It wouldn't matter anyway because in both those worlds things like this have always happened and will continue to happen. Like I said above, these are usually one of the more interesting subplots of the draft, the stories that pop up when prospect evaluation has been beaten to death for the last three months, a lifetime in internet time.