Brian Mitchell Reacts to the Reaction
Let's all step away from the radio dial and all the vitriol contained therein to instead consider....nah, who am I kidding. More radio jibba-jabba please!
"If you steel me you better damn sure get your best," Brian Mitchell told me on Sunday. "I always say I'm not media, I work in the media. I'm a fighter. I'm a damn football player, I'm a competitor, so don't think you're gonna threaten me or intimidate me. Players do that to the media. I'm sure you've seen it, you've heard it, and I've watched guys do it. That is your job. You're gonna say [stuff] I don't like. All in all, it balances itself out. But I'm not going to be intimidated by no one."
It's been a week since the latest round of Skins media madness began with that Clinton Portis appearance on last week's John Thompson Show. At 3 pm, Portis will make his next ESPN 980 appearance. Before that happens, I was curious what sort of feedback Mitchell had gotten.
(One other note: Chris Samuels and Leigh Torrence will be on WKYS today at 3, along with a senior adviser from the Obama campaign, as part of a voter registration effort. Tough time slot for Redskins fans. Buy another radio, I guess.)
Anyhow, the B-Mitch reaction. Everyone who walked by the set of Comcast SportsNet's pre-game show on Sunday seemed to have something to say to Mitchell, although CSN employees said that wasn't unusual. "They either love me or they hate me, that's all cool with me," he said. "Things always bounce off me."
Among the comments I heard in a few moments of watching, I love you B-Mitch, we hate you, no one likes you, B-Mitch whoooo-hooo, 26 rules baby, B-Mitch I've got you against Portis, B Mitch you were right you were right, Clin-ton Por-tis, Here ya go B-Mitch, shut up, you suck, take care of Portis, B-Mitch you're a hater, and we love you Brian.
The comments kind of ran the gamut, but nearly everyone was focused on Mitchell. His debate with Portis made SportsCenter, was on YouTube almost instantly and helped provide this blog with the second-biggest week of traffic in its two-year history, and he said he got texts and phone calls from all over the country.
"Man, I've heard from people that I've never heard from in the last 10, 15 years," Mitchell told me. "The way I look at it, our business goes on ratings. [Heck], it gave us ratings. Red Zebra, ESPN 980: we're relevant. People know that we're the station here. If people come through town, I think that they might want to hear what Brian Mitchell has to say. That's the way I look at it. If you were trying to put something together that would bring some attention to you, draw some attention, it would be a perfect set-up. But it wasn't a set-up, it wasn't planned, it wasn't staged."
And in fact, Mitchell said he worried that the national audience who was briefly exposed to this issue would have missed what prompted the entire debate: Mitchell's comments about Portis's comments about his offensive line, which were printed in The Post.
"That is what I addressed, and I'm gonna always do that," Mitchell said. "I'll never change from being the person that I am. If I do anything like a personal attack or anything like that, and anybody pointed that out to me, I would be saying I'm sorry, but I don't think I said anything wrong. And that's why I kept saying on the air, I kept telling him, 'Keep it football.' He was taking it personal, making it personal.
"Now, I've never been one to shy away from anything. The way I played the game is in your face, that's the way I live my life, that's what I'm about. But in the situation, I'm at a disadvantage because I'm working and I'm obligated to be professional, which I was doing....I think all in all, I handled it as best anyone in that position could handle it."
Mitchell also said some listeners and players seem to misunderstand his role.
"I'm not a fan," he said. "I'm a fan of the Redskins, I'm a fan of Clinton, but I'm not a typical fan where I'm in awe when I see him. I have lived what you're living, you know? People can say what they want about I returned kicks or whatever, I was the damn best when I did it and I reached my goals. I don't owe any more respect than I give. When you do well, I praise you."
He said he wants to sit down with Portis and explain how he sees his job as a paid analyst, and he said the reaction from fans has been more positive than negative. (Older fans, he said, tended to side with him, while younger fans tended to stick up for Portis.) He said people who know him weren't surprised by any of this, and that they know he's harder on people as he gets closer to them.
He still thinks Portis's comments--"I wish I could go to a team for one week with the best offensive line," especially--were offensive to his teammates, and he said his own approach wouldn't change.
"It's funny man, i's funny it got that much attention because what it is is a media person doing his job," Mitchell said. "The reason I got my job is because I am not afraid to say stuff, point blank. And one thing I've always tried to be very cognizant of, if I say [something] I'm gonna make sure I'm saying based on what I see. I'm not gonna make up [junk], I'm not gonna go out there and have a personal vendetta against anyone. That's not my deal. But if you don't say a lot of outlandish stuff, I have nothing to talk about....
"The closer I get to you, the harder I will be on you. I expect certain things. That's just the way I am, man. Blame my father. I don't mean any harm, I just speak my mind, and I try to be as fair as I can.
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