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On Jason La Canfora, Vinny Cerrato and Tampering

Well, this was a fun day, no? Big Redskins win, everyone's excited, Dallas on the horizon, Jim Zorn singing about milk, Reliable Source getting ready to report the news that Gilbert Arenas just got engaged, perfect weather, and everyone's talking about....a radio show segment about a newspaper reporter?

Yours truly was momentarily caught up in the great radio silence of Sept. 22, but now that the editors have said their piece, explaining that no one from the Post accused anyone from the Redskins of anything, I'm going to go ahead and publish this bizarre transcript from "Inside the Red Zone" with Vinny Cerrato, the EVPFFO of the Redskins. You can also read more about it on The Redskins Blog.

Today was the second episode of Cerrato's new program on ESPN 980's, and the first segment jumped right into the good stuff. George Michael, who co-hosted last week's debut episode, came back on this morning's show, which was co-hosted by Frank Hanrahan. The topic was a segment during which he and Cerrato had discussed the job security of Raiders coach Lane Kiffin with the NFL Network's Adam Schefter.

Today's transcript:

Frank Hanrahan:
George Michael joins us on the phone. Good morning George, I hear you got some housecleaning to do, is this correct?

George Michael: Well Frank a little housecleaning, because I understand that there's been some confusion about something that we did on Friday. Good morning Mr. Cerrato, I would assume you're in a good mood

Vinny Cerrato: Good morning, King. What was it, WABBL rock 'n' roll? [Laughter]

Michael: WABC, ok? Ok look, here's the deal, I hear that there was an accusation of a very serious word, and the word being "tampering," which I found to be utterly outrageous. So Vinny, I told you on Friday I didn't want to get you in trouble. We talked about Lane Kiffin, the coach of the Raiders, and it's been suggested, or there was a call or a question, were you involved, were you guilty of tampering.

Cerrato: Right. Do you want me to explain it first? Jason La Canfora....

Michael: Do we have the tape so we can hear it?

Cerrato: Yeah, we got the tape. But we'll just say Jason La Canfora, he called the NFL to ask them are they not gonna charge the Washington Redskins with tampering. And let's listen to it and then I'll read the tampering rule.


On tape, Cerrato, last Friday:
Hey Adam, let me ask you, what's the latest update on Lane Kiffin? Is he getting on the plane to go to Buffalo today?

On tape, Michael, last Friday: Lane Kiffin, the question that Vinny's talking about, Lane Kiffin, the coach at Oakland, is rumored to be on the verge of getting fired as we talk this morning. There's rumors that he might go to Syracuse. Adam?

(Adam Schefter response, explaining how precarious was Kiffin's situation.)

Hanrahan, back live: All right, so that's what happened on Friday. So take us through, Vinny, what's been going on since then.

Ok, let me read the tampering rule. It says about head coaches: "During a club's playing season, no club may request permission to discuss employment with a head coach for the current or future season." Last time I checked, Frank, we do have a head coach, and there was no discussion there of anything to do with a head coach or job opportunities. All it was was discussing his opportunity with a guy from NFL Network, Adam Schefter, who that's his job is to talk about these things. And that's what we discussed, about him being fired, which will probably happen today from what everybody's reporting. And there was also mention that I read on Pro Football Talk about him possibly going to Syracuse. So I don't see why Jason La Canfora would call the league office to charge us with tampering.

Michael: Vinny, Vinny.

Cerrato: Yes George?

Michael: Let me ask you this. If it were tampering--and that is a very serious thing--if it were tampering, what would happen to the Redskins?

Cerrato: Well, this George: If we were caught tampering, we would lose draft picks and be fined heavily. Look at the New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings, a lot of teams that have had these things happen lately. You're gonna get fined heavily. So this guy, one of the reasons I want to do this show, George, is to give my opinion on these things, so when things come up I can voice my opinion. But when a guy is trying to hurt the franchise of the Washington Redskins, I'm gonna stand up and I'm gonna defend the Washington Redskins. Because there is nothing that happened on that, this is just a guy attacking us, and I wish that he would just be professional like the rest of his colleagues that cover the Redskins. Period.

Hanrahan: Vinny, my question is how did you find out that...?

The NFL called.

Hanrahan: Ok, they called you? And what did they say?

Cerrato: They just thought it was kind of a joke. They were just giving us a heads-up that Jason La Canfora called and wondering....I mean, it was ridiculous, you know? Maybe he should be out at practice watching practice, George.

Hey Vinny, the thing is, that you had a serious accusation. But what I hope the audience understands, and I tried to keep you away from, we never once talked about anything other than the fact that, "Hey, is the guy going to Syracuse, what will he do next?" but it had nothing to do with the Redskins. I never said it.

Cerrato: Not a thing to do with the Redskins, George, not one thing.

Michael: I mean, we never once mentioned the Redskins, and I think the public just needs to know that. And I'm not gonna apologize for something I didn't do, and so I feel bad that it came up. I just don't comprehend how someone could call the NFL when there was nothing said whatsoever.

Cerrato: Right. Yeah. I totally agree with you, George, and it's not the first time that this guy's done those kind of things.

Michael: All right, hey Frank, thanks for letting me join you, I wanted to clean up the mess a little bit.

Hanrahan: You got it, man

Cerrato: Hey George, you cleaned it up. We swept it, we swept it up and threw it out.

Cerrato referenced this issue during at least two additional segments, once telling a caller "We had a thing on Friday on the show where Jason La Canfora called the NFL office to accuse the Washington Redskins of tampering....It's my job to stand up for the organization when somebody wants to attack it personally, and that's what I felt I had to do." He specifically praised Thomas Boswell and Mike Wise for writing "good" articles, and when someone named Jason later called in with a question, Cerrato said "I thought maybe it was Jason La Canfora calling."

By Dan Steinberg  |  September 22, 2008; 9:02 PM ET
Categories:  Media , Redskins  
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Gee what a revelation John tried to spark his lame a@@ sorry career by calling the NFL and lacing on the Bull@@@@.Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaassssssssssssseeee.All he does is rip and spout when it comes to the skins and try to act cool. Has anybody seen his picture? This lamea## yappin' Dude, if the Post (oh sorry the WAPO) can't come up with someone better than this they either are bowing to the "Danny" or they are just plain stupid,(take your pick)this schmoe hasn't had an intelligent thought since "Momma".He takes more time off than the "Frickin" Senate and Congress combined, is he related to Ben? Maybe if he didn't try to spend so much timing trying to be "cool" he could actually put his alleged journalism degree to work,NNNNNNNNNAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH.Please give this spot to Steinberg or anyone that has a mind of their own, his boring schticht is an embarrassement. Jason & Jason there is only one Jason worth reading and he is much darker than the Canforia. Please put him to rest, I am sure he can get a nice job commenting on community events somewhere like the Gaithersburg Gazette.


Posted by: MICKFOWL | September 22, 2008 9:30 PM | Report abuse

So we now know the Redskins side of things, what do the other Post writers think. Would any of you have done the same thing? Are any of you embarrassed by his actions?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2008 9:33 PM | Report abuse

I think MICKFOWL should be the new Redskins Insider. That was an impressive piece. Hell let MICKFOWL cover Politics, Metro, and Business and I just might subscribe to the dead tree edition.

Posted by: Jasno = Biggest D Bag in the Universe | September 22, 2008 9:38 PM | Report abuse

I would recommend Steinberg for the Skins beat, but I don't want to lose the DC Sports Bog. =\

Posted by: je suis un pizza | September 22, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

I think this Jason deserves a medal for sticking it to Vinny with a 2x4 and a hacksaw.

Posted by: THE REAL DEAL | September 22, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

How about Barry S. as the new beat writer, along J. Ried, they would be great, smart guys who aren't gonna get into this personal crap, just football. If the football sucks, say it sucks, if the football is good, say it's good, just stop LOOKING for issues to create, it there is already a story, get the details, report the details, and get on with it.

Posted by: BluCollar Redskin | September 22, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Sure Barry S and Jason R would be great, until they took over and did their job and than they would be "Haters"....

Posted by: chrIS lArry | September 22, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Forget your Jay-Z v. Stevenson beat, just keep airing out LaCanfora.

Posted by: | September 22, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Sure Barry S and Jason R would be great, until they took over and did their job and than they would be "Haters"....

Posted by: chrIS lArry | September 22, 2008 10:02 PM

So JLC's job responsibilities include blogging, writing the On Football, perpetuating a pissing match with Vinnie, and being a passive-aggressive egomaniac, but not speaking with the XVP for over 2 years of the team he's covering?

How does a beat reporter get away with not only justifying, but straight bragging about, not speaking with the XVP?

Let me ask a simple question. Could JLC be better at his job if he lost the ego-trip and was actually cordial with Cerrato and could speak with him without letting this middle-school squabble get in the way? I say absolutely. JLC is allowing his ego getting in the way of him doing the best job he can.

JLC needs to get over himself and get over whatever beef he has with Cerrato, and vice-versa. It certainly takes two to tango.

But JLC needs Cerrato more than the other way around - there will always be another beat reporter that can at least be cordial with the local team, but there will only be one local team.

Posted by: je suis un pizza | September 22, 2008 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Does this mean that either JLC or Smithers will have to "step to" the other if they happen to be in the same room? Or must their pockets be straightened first? And when is one deemed to be served, thereby requiring a dance off at the OC Convention Center?

Posted by: Senor Cartmenez | September 23, 2008 12:44 AM | Report abuse

Attention Washington Post readers:

Jason La Canfora Must Go.

La Canfora wanted Cerrato to get stuck with a tampering charge, so he played narc and figured if there was a violation, he could get a story out of it. The Post notes that he didn't write about the issue. Of course he didn't. There was no story. Once La Canfora found out that there was no tampering, the story was dead. You can be guaranteed that there would have been a story had the NFL said, "yeah, that's probably tampering."
I'll also take issue with the "he referred to Cerratos questions about Raiders coach Lane Kiffin only to provide context..." quote. That's crap. La Canfora could have used any sort of hypothetical to ask his question about what constituted tampering. Instead, he chose a very specific example, which shows that it was used to see whether that specific statement was a violation of the tampering rules.

La Canfora tried to create a story. He failed. La Canfora probably did what he did with a smirk on his face, hoping that something would stick against Cerrato. Maybe it wouldn't have resulted in any penalty, but a public rebuke or any embarrassment that La Canfora could have provided for his arch-nemesis would have probably been viewed as a victory.

We've established La Canfora's pettiness and complete lack of professionalism (I once described how he goes to work dressed like a frat guy who's late for a 10:00 a.m. class), but to shift blame back to the Redskins for a bit, this is exactly why you don't give a live radio show to your sitting general manager. Everyone saw something like this coming, it was inevitable. Jason La Canfora is an idiot, but so are Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato for fostering an environment that led to Jason La Canfora's idiocy to ever become a big story.

So what should happen to La Canfora? I can't imagine his Post editors are happy about this, despite their public show of support. It might not be a fire-able offense, but a move off the Redskins beat is probably the best thing the newspaper can do at this point. Might the paper's editors resist that so as not to lose face in their never-ending battle with the team?
As for the Redskins, they have to be even more furious with La Canfora and the Post than they already were. What can be done? Could the Redskins ban Jason La Canfora from the grounds? I'm not even sure if that's possible. But the punishing of one petty act with another petty act doesn't make any sense. (Which is why Vinny Cerrato is probably considering that very option.)

It's just all a mess. And it should never have happened in the first place. Vinny Cerrato never should have gotten that radio show. It was a bad idea when it was announced and it's even worse now that there have been two shows. He should have stuck to his office, scouting every college WR in order to take 7 of them next draft, getting excited about every over-the-hill free agent and feeding grapes to Dan Snyder while he gets his pedicures. Just like old times.

Posted by: Redskins Nation | September 23, 2008 1:05 AM

Posted by: Completely Done with La Canfora | September 23, 2008 1:14 AM | Report abuse

There's two ways to look at this: JLC hates Snyder/Cerrato and has an axe to grind, and in return Snyder/Cerrato hate JLC; or Snyder/Cerrato hate JLC and have an axe to grind, and in return, JLC hates Snyder/Cerrato.

No matter who started it, its clearly gotten to the point where JLC lets it seep into his reporting, and Snyder/Cerrato go out of their way to not give him scoops. Nobody looks good in the end, but as biased as it may be, I'm sticking w/ my team over a reporter (not to mention objectivity is in the job description of one of them, but not the other).

(Also, the real problem for JLC is that no matter how bad Snyder may be (and I don't think it's anywhere near as bad as he says, although it's clearly not great), Al Davis makes him look like a saint, so it's just a little difficult to get worked up over.)

Posted by: A Fly Moses | September 23, 2008 2:36 AM | Report abuse

Is writing about lame sports radio a Post 'Core Business'?

I think they'll take away your radio now.

Posted by: Kim | September 23, 2008 4:30 AM | Report abuse

I can understand to some extent why some see Cerrato's show an issue, but he isn't the only team executive doing this, LaConfora reported, erroneously, that this was "unprecedented", but it isn't. That original post of his concerning this issue was his first step in the process of trying to use it against Cerrato and Snyder, and this was just another step in that process.

LaConfora has shown throughout his writings that he is capable finding a negative in almost anything the team does, whether there is real evidence to that affect or not. So much information is open to interpretation, and his interpretation leans to the negative, that his issues are incredibly transparent, and this whole thing is just another example of that. The real issue on this one is, did he finally go too far, cross the line. To me, the answer is an easy YES, he crossed the line, PERIOD.

What WaPo does about it becomes the next question. Obviously, they see some issues with what he did, or there would have been a more normal day of posting at RI, let's be realistic.

I for one, have had issues with the reporting there anyway, I see all of Zorn's press conferences, and Gibb's before him, and have time and time again been surprised by the inaccurate interpretations of the things being said. Which ultimately have brought into question EVERYTHING LaConfora reports. I think he shuold be re-assigned, should have been re-assigned long ago.

Good luck with what ever you decide WaPo, it could have a long ranging effect on your future.

Posted by: BluCollar Redskin | September 23, 2008 6:14 AM | Report abuse

It's become so obvious that Jason has an agenda. I think he has done a great job but of late his little pissing match with Snyder/Vinny has crossed the line and contaminated his work. He needs to be fired or reassigned period. I'm sure someone else can cover the team in a fair and balanced way without the ego. How can you cover a team and not speak to the person in charge of that team. That fact alone should eliminate Jason from his current position.

Posted by: virtueandvice | September 23, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Amazing those what some people will say and do for money.

I believe their called "prostitues?"

George, Vinny, do you have to wear heels and fishnets when you meet with Little Napoleon?

Posted by: What? Who? | September 23, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Cerrato: I mean, it was ridiculous, you know? Maybe [Jason] should be out at practice watching practice...

Does anyone else think that maybe Vinny should be out watching practice? Or at least doing something other than yapping his mouth on a radio show about the Raiders head coach and a Redskins beat writer?

Posted by: Nathan | September 23, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

This is getting a little out of hand on both sides. Unfortunately, I have a feeling both are going to continue to appear more petty than professional and both will suffer for it.

Posted by: will_ga | September 23, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

The venom some commenters have towards the coverage LaCanfora provides does not seem to have diminished the energy with which they scrutinize said coverage.

Posted by: Lindemann | September 23, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

According to PFT, LaConfora has now accused Vinny of slander. That could be a pretty serious charge, legally speaking.

I find it interesting that LaConfora has no public response though. Why would that be I wonder?

Posted by: BluCollar Redskin | September 23, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Larry Michael looked like he was about to cry last night on the Source-o-Meter reporting this (non) story. That man sure loves him some Vinny.

Posted by: SteveO | September 23, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

My view is that LaConfora is doing his job as a reporter of one of the most important sports franchises in all of sports. Isn't it better for all of us to be aware of some of the possible complications that can come from Vinny having a talk show? Just think for a moment if the NFL had come down on the Skins for tampering because of Vinny's show. There would have been plenty of people posting comments on why LaConfora/or other reporters hadn't approached this subject in the first place.

This past Sunday, my family and I traveled from Ohio to attend the Redskins game at FedEx. Frankly we were dismayed to discover that pretty much all the sports radio media in the DC area is now owned by the Redskins/Daniel Snyder. How in the world can there be any objective reporting coming from the media about the Skins when the Skins are the ones paying the salaries?

What's most fascinating is that while some people continue to bash Jason for negative reporting, if you read his H-back piece from would have seen an objective, yet glowing synopsis of the Skins win over the Cardinals. He wasn't a "hater" in that piece. He reported what many of us saw on Sunday...good football that was executed professionally on all sides of the ball.

Let the man do his job. All of us who read the Post are fortunate to have such outstanding writers who ask the tough questions and share with us the objective facts and opinions of our beloved Skins.

Posted by: Larry from Ohio | September 23, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

We know JLC's 'pockets straight.'

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | September 23, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Aren't reporters supposed to ask questions, to learn as much as possible about the subject on which they report? Isn't Cerrato doing a radio talk-show an ongoing story?

The fact is that any story the size of the Redskins organization and its season is going to have many, many layers. It seems Jasno does a good job exploring those many layers.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 23, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Funny post by Nathan at 9:43 a.m.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 23, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Such a joke of a franchise.

Posted by: prophet | September 23, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

It's hilarious and pitiful that Snyder and Cerrato are obsessed with JLC. Among other things, it means JLC is doing a great job.

Posted by: JLC obsessed | September 23, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Keep drinking that kool-aid, Redskin faithful. A reporter's job is to report...ask questions, get answers, and verify the accuracy of said answers. It's called an independent and free press. Being critical of a local team is part of that job (it's not the job of a beat writer to simply echo the party line).

Posted by: Anonymous | September 23, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I support JLC in this one. I think Cerrato doing a radio show is very dangerous. Don't think others in the NFL aren't listening to his show and monitoring it in hopes of catching him saying something that he shouldn't say on air. I applaud JLC for trying to keep Vinny in check. Let's hope from now on that Vinny will not mention anything relating to other teams' players or coaches. It's the press' job to point these types of things out, and I'm glad that JLC is out there.

Posted by: JS in L'Enfant | September 23, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

La Canfora should be relieved of his duties. As a daily reader of his work for a long time I have enjoyed his work and even his critical approach. But, I assure the Post we readers are Redskin Fans looking for an Redskin Insider working as someone who looks after the team rather than an indifferent reporter who is fine with getting them into trouble by agressively attempting to break a very weak story in order to advance a personal vendeta.
Move La Canfora or risk loosing more readers. It is that simple. You all know this is pathetic no matter how you want to spin it. I don't even want Jason allowed into Redskin Park.

Posted by: FJP | September 23, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I won't follow the Post as long as JLC is on the Reskins beat.
I've been a Redskins fan my whole life. I've sure never been a JLC fan. The 'Skins were right.

Team, not Traitor. Get rid of JLC.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 23, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Look, I understand the people who say it is JLC's job to report. I agree. It is also good for him to make the Front Office aware of the line it might be crossing on a radio show.

However, this can be done in other ways than reporting to the NFL's office and seeing if he can get picks taken away. It is precisely that behavior that crossed the is not is despicable.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 23, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Jason La Canfora did not try to "report" or "rat out" the Redskins or accuse them of a violation. He called the NFL to ask if a GM could discuss other teams on the radio. Big difference. A logical question. Teams have typically refused to discuss trades or other teams' personnel because of possible "tampering rules" violations. If Cerrato knew what LaCanfora did and then claimed that LaCanfora was "reporting" him, Cerrato was lying.
Like he does when he says he's qualified to be an NFL GM.

Posted by: Kid TJ | September 23, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Is there supposed to be a protagonist/hero here somewhere, because all I see are "maroons" wearing maroon.

Posted by: Naf Salad | September 23, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

why are we still talking about this? Tampering is only a serious allegation if it comes from a NFL team like Cerreto said. Not from this yahoo LaConfora.

Posted by: chad | September 23, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: An7onymous | September 24, 2008 7:13 AM | Report abuse

JLC was just on WPL. Russ Thaler gave him a chance to defend himself. He attempted to take the high road and ended up looking like a biatch.

Posted by: Hodges | September 24, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

JLC was just on WPL. Russ Thaler gave him a chance to defend himself. He attempted to take the high road and ended up looking like a biatch.

Posted by: Hodges | September 24, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

JLC was just on WPL. Russ Thaler gave him a chance to defend himself. He attempted to take the high road and ended up looking like a biatch.

Posted by: Hodges | September 24, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

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