Wide receiver Mardy Gilyard has not asked the St. Louis Rams for a trade. Gilyard's agent, Andy Simms, denied the rumor yesterday after Pro Football Talk ran an item about the trade request that apparently didn't happen. How did all this talk get started? It may have come from a phony social media account.
On Friday, sports talk radio station ESPN 101 passed along the rumor, and did qualify it as such, that Mardy Gilyard had asked for a trade. It was crammed into a piece of classic talk radio noise cleverly titled "Are You Kidding Me?" (yes, surprisingly enough it featured a clipped sound bite exclaiming the same thing) featuring former Rams assistant head coach Rick Venturi, a Haslett confidant. You can listen to the segment in question here, witty banter and all.
And where did the rumor come from? A fake Facebook page, of course. (Actually, I'm a little surprised it wasn't a fake Twitter, that seems to be the preferred fake social media outlet). Here's what the fake Mardy Gilyard account said on May 15:
not saying i dis like the players but the coaching staff is worse favortisim but im tired of it not a easy way to say it but want to be traded yeha stl ram fans im tired of the bull shit
First, indulge my impulse to put a big [sic] after the whole thing. When that first popped up, it made a little stir on Twitter, and Gilyard spread the word that it was a fake Facebook page.
Gilyard was already in the spotlight after Tony Softli from ESPN 101 - a place which seems to have become a halfway house for those tarnished by their association with the Rams from 2006-2008 - started a mini controversy around the issue. Here's what he said on Thursday:
Mardy Gilyard was a no-show. It is my understanding from a source he had a close friend pass away and decided to attend the services. I'm still working to confirm if that was truly the case. John Greco was not in attendance. For two players that are on the bubble and will be in a dogfight to make the 2011 roster, making at least an appearance would have helped their cause.
Confirm? Gilyard talked about it on his verified Twitter account and his real Facebook page. He also had major wrist surgery that still has him limited, as reported by Gilyard himself. Still, a lack of confirmation wasn't enough to stop him from "letting it fly," with a caveat, and ginning up grist for talk radio and the internet. Really, there's nothing wrong with what Softli did here. That Gilyard wasn't there was a fact and ripe for talk radio and fans to question given recent history. Just spare us the hypocritical high-minded lesson in sourcing, for this or when a player's agent confirms information.
Phony social media can be a wonderful thing...when it's identified as such. That said, I'm not of the mind to dismiss Twitter and Facebook and other platforms as legitimate sources of information. Agencies, businesses, players, teams and lots of others use those channels as a viable means for direct communication.