The Buffalo Bills’ season is officially in the toilet.
Rex Ryan is probably going to get fired in a few weeks when the season ends and the team misses the playoffs for the 17th consecutive season. But among Buffalo-area media and Bills’ fans, the questions going forward surround the future of G.M. Doug Whaley. Jerry Sullivan, a longtime friend and columnist for the Buffalo News, framed the debate around Ryan’s press conference on Tuesday. He pointed out that Ryan faces question about his future every week while Whaley never talks to the media outside of his contractual obligations to the Bills’ flagship station.
And even if they're planning to whack Ryan, it wouldn't hurt for Whaley to show his face and take some of the heat for the team's disappointing performance. Take a few soft tosses about Tyrod Taylor, make the requisite injury excuses, tell us about all the marvelous talent he's recruited. But say something.
It’s an interesting way to frame the idea of sports journalists needing access to sources. “Come on, just talk. We know you’re not going to say anything of value to our readers, but at least say something to us.”
It’s a not-uncommon thought from sports journalists. This isn’t to pick on Jerry. I get the idea. But I find it to be an unconvincing argument about access.
At a time when all trust in media is low, the argument for access make isn’t “Look, we don’t care what you say, just say something.” The argument to make is “It is only fair for you, as a team executive/coach/player/owner, to be accountable."
Team executives should be available to the media. It’s about accountability to the fans and to the public. It’s about giving reporters a chance to ask questions and get information and answers. We cannot control what our sources say. But we should have the chance to ask questions.
The point isn’t to get the source to say something. It’s about demanding a level of accountability for our readers, for the public