HomeDa Birds NewsA.J. Takes on Media 'B.S.': Eagles Star Not Misunderstood by All

A.J. Takes on Media ‘B.S.’: Eagles Star Not Misunderstood by All

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PHILADELPHIA – Media literacy, or specifically lack thereof, is a national epidemic that has had a crippling effect on the country.

The fact that’s trickled down to professional sports is like complaining about the sniffles when disease is raging through the body. It’s hardly important but that’s where my mind went when A.J. Brown called into the Philadelphia Eagles’ flagship radio station to settle some family business.

Brown dialed into WIP in Philadelphia, one of the true heavyweights in sports talk in the country never mind locally, to confront them about what he called “BS” rumors being perpetuated on the airwaves, be it trades or rumors about his relationships with teammates, including Jalen Hurts.

© Eric Hartline, USA TODAY

There was a lot of conflating.

Related: A.J. Brown Makes Radio Appearance, Rips Hosts: ‘What’s The Deal?’

Brown’s issues stemmed with other hosts – both on and off WIP – known for their “hot takes” but he spent most of the time talking with former Eagles linebacker Ike Reese, who explained the dichotomy in place, insisting that the station doesn’t create rumors but discusses other reports and hypotheticals.

Even Reese’s assessment is muddied waters, however. Multiple sources have told SI.com’s Eagles Today over the years that WIP’s former program director not only encouraged “hot takes” but essentially demanded them by steering toward talent that specialized in that kind of radio. 

When ratings followed, the strategy was validated.

Having gotten to know Brown over the past two seasons as well as anyone can in the reporter/player relationship, he’s always struck me as a thoughtful, engaging guy who works extremely hard and demands the most out of himself and his teammates.

He has also probably spent far too much time on social media for his own good and has consistently stated that he feels misunderstood, something he again expressed to WIP.

“I just truly feel like I’m misunderstood as a player, as a person,” Brown said on Friday. “It gets frustrating because anything I say, anything I do, it gets magnified times 10.”

To those without regular access to Brown, he’s often been stereotyped as the cliched “Diva WR” tag after showing emotion on the sidelines. For what it’s worth, Brown isn’t and never has been “T.O.: The Sequel” in Philadelphia.

“I get classified as a diva, I want the ball and this and that. Blah, blah, blah. When, honestly, it’s the other way around,” Brown said “You see me getting upset on the sideline and you automatically think it’s about targets. No, no.

“What if I’m holding my players accountable? What if I’m the guy that pushes everybody in the locker room, makes everybody uncomfortable to try to better themselves for the team? What if I’m that guy?”

There will be no pushups in the driveway or agents belting into the microphone “next question.” The All-Pro is the best pure football player the Eagles have and that’s not by accident. Head coach Nick Sirianni has raved about Brown as a person.

Nick Sirianni has always raved about A.J. Brown as a person.

John McMullen/Eagles Today

“He’s always going to want to change the game because he knows he’s capable and that’s just him being the playmaker he is,” Sirianni said. “I know this, and I said this to you guys on the record, off the record, all — everything, that there’s nobody that is as good of a teammate. There is nobody that’s as good of a person as A.J.

“… Shoot, he’s one of our very best players and one of our best players since I’ve been here in the past three years. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

Brown is like a lot of people, though, and often makes the mistake of assuming “the media” is a monolith.

When he steps back from the emotion of a flawed narrative that had painted him unfairly – like those made-up trade talks or “feuds” with teammates – Brown seems to trust the faces he sees four times a week during the season, even to the point of expecting those reporters to tell the real story.

For the record, when he does speak Brown has never failed to answer a question I’ve asked him and goes above and beyond to often talk off the record when the television cameras scurry to the next scrum.

There is a line between sports talk radio and reporting and many of us (full disclosure, that includes myself) have to walk it as best we can. The former demands opinions and hypotheticals. On a personal level, the goal is to identify when discussing those things vs. disseminating real information.

There is no media conspiracy to torpedo the Eagles or players like Brown. There is no weekly meeting called to order. What there is is a whole host of people with agendas just like in the national media – everything from activism to fandom to grifting, all the way back to actual journalism with people trying to get it right.

Believe it or not, it’s always been that way and it’s up to the consumer to sift through it all and find out who and what to trust, something that’s only been complicated by more and more who find comfort in echo chambers, cheerleaders, or trolls.

The good news is that it’s always easy to find the objective. You just have to be looking.

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