As you might have heard yesterday, Geno Smith fired his agent. The New York Daily News reported it was because Smith felt his agents promised him he would be the top overall pick. Today Deadspin published a story on how that story dropped.
It started with the Daily News, though Smith's ex-agents at the Select Sports Group approached a number of reporters with the story that Smith fired them because he "thought he would be and should be" the No. 1 pick. Smith denied that during a radio interview, saying "it’s not because of one particular incident, there are a number of things," and indicated his willingness to let the issue go.
I'm going to take off my rogue blogger hat for a moment, and address this as a Daily News reader, which I am in my spare time. (Don't tell anyone.)
I have a lot of questions about what Manish Mehta, the author of the Daily News story, and how he handled this. You might differ from me, but I see the agents as having something to gain from this information getting out. Getting fired by a high profile client makes them look bad in public. The story they are telling that Smith fired them because he thought he was told he was going number one overall makes him look bad to me, especially if no such promises were made as the article asserted. Feel free to disagree, but to me that makes Smith sound spoiled and bitter because he fell. It takes the agent off the hook.
It really feels like the agents would have an incentive to lie and tell that story, even if it was untrue. Now let's take a look at the Mehta story.
Four days after Geno Smith slid out of the first round of the draft, the former West Virginia quarterback fired his agents due to his displeasure over his draft position, according to sources.The Daily News has learned that Smith thought that he would and should be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Sources told the News that Smith’s agents from Select Sports Group gave him no assurance of his draft position.
The article doesn't hedge bets. It's stating this as a fact. There is no grey area. Geno fired his agents because of how far he fell.
Mehta cannot tell us who his sources are. People take issue with Mehta keeping his sources a secret, but it's totally unfair. Giving up his sources on a story would be unethical. He couldn't do his job if he gave up his sources. At the same time, as a reader, I wonder whether he could shed some clarity on this. Has he spoken to people both on the agents' side and Smith' side? Could he have given us a little more information here? I don't know, but as a reader I am left wanting more.
I do find it odd that the agents were apparently pushing a one-sided version of the story to many different reporters. As a reader, I hope he didn't just take their word for it because it is obvious how there could be an agenda. I also hope he didn't run with information this thin that paints a Jets player in a bad light.
It is worth noting that the only word we have thus far from the Smith camp comes from Deadspin, and it paints a very different story.
Smith, we're told, was more upset that Select Sports handled him like a potential high pick, failing to do the sorts of things that could have improved his draft position. Our source says Smith wanted to take part in the Senior Bowl, a showcase for talent looking to move up, but his agents convinced him to skip it. When Pro Football Weekly issued a scathing scouting report, calling Smith "not committed or focused" and deriding his "marginal work ethic," Smith was disappointed that his agents did nothing to combat the negative press it created, our source says.
It's entirely possible that Mehta's article was true, that Smith's camp is lying, and that Mehta spoke with somebody different close to Smith who is telling the truth.
Hopefully Mehta can shed some light on this. He can't name names, but maybe he can offer some clarity on whether he confirmed this with the Smith camp or some independent source. As a reader, I have serious questions about the article he wrote since our only words from Smith's camp seems to refute what he said.