I hope that reporter Jeff Darlington of the Miami Herald was mad this morning when he read his own story in the newspaper. Here's the headline:
Miami Dolphins' coach Sparano, quarterback Pennington share common bond
Now, one would assume that one thing this story would have to nail down is the precise nature of that bond between the rookie head coach and the veteran, castoff quarterback that he picked up from the New York Jets. After all, that bond is in the headline and then there's the top of the story.
The coach and his quarterback first shook hands four months ago -- a time when two strangers knew only enough about each other to realize nothing but family and faith mattered more than football.
It was a shared passion for the sport. It was a deep, mutual respect for the game. That's what initially struck the bond between Tony Sparano and Chad Pennington, the two men charged with leading this magical Dolphins turnaround.
''His passion has been the same from the time I met him until now,'' said Pennington, the Dolphins' captain and quarterback. "It hasn't changed. It hasn't wavered.''
Now, after reading this, one would assume that this crucial bond between these two men is somehow wrapped up in that interesting phrase "family and faith."
I mean, it's right there in the lede.
This brings us to one of those GetReligion laws that have emerged in our nearly five years online. It there is a religion element of the story that is important enough to make it into the lede, or the opening anecdote, then it's important enough to be explained or, heck, at least mentioned later in the story.
Don't you think? Well, read the story. Did I miss something?
I mean, we are told they quickly developed a friendship, despite some major differences in their backgrounds -- symbolized by "Sparano's tough Connecticut accent and Pennington's gentle Tennessee drawl." Both of their fathers were coaches, too. Then there is this fascinating passage, hinting at struggles with workaholism or something deeper.
True, their relationship is important mostly because it allows them to see eye-to-eye when it comes to attacking opponents and succeeding as a football team. To fans, that's what matters. But it isn't just about football to these men. It's about life, too.
''I'm not really proud of this all the time, but so much of me is football 24 hours a day,'' Sparano said. "So to be able to sit there and have that kind of conversation with one of my players, it helps me, too.''
But that's all we get.
So to cut to the chase: What are the ties that bind them? Why mention a faith element in the lede and then leave it out of the story? My assumption is that reporter Darlington included some information about this part of the story and that it was cut by the copy desk, perhaps simply to make the story shorter.
So I hope he's mad, today. If he isn't, then what the heck is going on here?