Sean Pamphilon has been called a snitch after he released the Gregg Williams audio last week. He’s been called much worse too, and they’re all names and stigmas he doesn’t deserve. Only those who are caught knowingly violating the rules are angry at the whistle blower.
But there are far more positive names he doesn’t quite deserve either. This is the uneven ground where we stand with the dust firmly settled four days after the Internet swallowed Williams’ profane pre-game vitriol. How we should view Pamphilon is a confusing paradox, or at least it should be. Those who think there’s an easy answer to that question are allowing their view of the matter to still be clouded with emotion. When that cloud lingers, logic is difficult to find.
There’s really only two clear facts at this point. We know that Pamphilon was in the room for Williams’ speech because he was filming a documentary on former Saint Steve Gleason, who’s been diagnosed with ALS. We also know that his conscience compelled him to release the audio, even though he was aware he wouldn’t have been filming without his unique connection to Gleason, and even though he knew Gleason wouldn’t approve.
Then the details become foggy. Gleason claims that any decisions regarding the footage had to be mutually agreed on, while Pamphilon refutes that claim. That confusion and disagreement has led to a sad conclusion. Pamphilon’s relationship with a dying man is now severed, a relationship that formed because Gleason wanted his life documented so that his new-born son would be able to see his father, and the life he led.
It doesn’t feel appropriate for me to continue writing emotionally and poetically on this. I’m human, and therefore have the inherent ability to feel compassion for another human who’s dying. But that has its limits, because I only know Gleason as much as I know any other NFL player. In fact, I know him far less than that, because he was primarily a special teams ace.
Peter King knew Gleason, though, and in his Monday Morning Quarterback column King described his experience when he interviewed the former Saint for a feature story on his life, and fight against ALS. Pamphilon was by his side during the interview, as he always was, and it was evident that he genuinely cared for Gleason, and the feeling was mutual. It quickly becomes clear while reading King’s reflections on the interview and their interaction that merely describing the two men as being close isn’t sufficient.
And now Pamphilon’s relationship with a dying man is done, and for what? That’s what King wondered, because by releasing the audio, he accomplished very little aside from cementing the public’s negative opinion of a demented and twisted coach, an opinion that was nearly solidified anyway.
As both a person and a journalist, King is torn as the discussion of legal conduct with the Williams tape continues, as we all should be.
The mere discussion of what’s legally right is what turns my stomach the most. I told you how close these two men were. This is one of those cases where what’s legally right shouldn’t matter. What’s morally right should. What’s morally right is that Pamphilon, who never would have heard what Williams said without being attached to Gleason, shouldn’t have released the tape without Gleason’s permission.
I’m tremendously conflicted on this story. I’ve thought about it for three days straight, trying to divine what’s right and wrong. I enrolled in college to study journalism in 1975, one year after the Watergate burglary and coverup forced Richard Nixon to resign the presidency. I’m all for the public’s right to know. And in the end, I’m tempted to say the more clarity about this story the better, just so the public understands why Goodell acted with such an iron hand. But I can’t get over the way the material was acquired and made public. It’s just not right.
I cannot find it in my heart to quite call Pamphilon a rat, but I cannot call him a hero either.
And now you want to know the rest of the story…
- If Tim Tebow is talking, people will listen. And If Tim Tebow is talking about God, a lot of people will listen, just not nearly as much as expected. Despite estimates that up to 30,000 would be in attendance for his Easter Sunday appearance, the real number was about half of that. [The Associated Press]
- The Bountygate appeal rulings could come down today or tomorrow, along with Roger Goodell’s punishments for the players involved. [PFT]
- The Ravens haven’t started negotiating with Joe Flacco yet, and that’s a good thing. [Gregg Rosenthal]
- Jay Cutler could only laugh when asked if his offensive line that’s allowed 105 sacks over the past two seasons will improve next year. [Chicago Tribune]
- Cutler also laughed last night when his Twitter account was hacked. He’s a pretty funny guy. [Cutler's Twitter]
- Michael Floyd will visit with the 49ers, which means little more than a free trip to the Bay Area, and some fun touristy rides on cable cars. [Niners Nation]
- The Redskins will have multiple visits with Andrew Luck. [Hogs Haven]
- The most Green Bay Packers-y car in the history of Green Bay Packers cars. [Total Packers]
- You probably don’t know much about West Virginia’s Bruce Irvine yet, but that’ll change soon. [National Football Post]
- “Just wondering about the Wonderlic: What does any of this have to do with covering a guy who runs like a gazelle and has Velcro hands?” [David Climer]