The saga of the Patriots Darius Fleming rescuing a woman from a crashed car, getting accused of lying about it by some media outlets, then being vindicated unfolded Wednesday while we were doing The Dale & Holley with Thornton Show, and we talked about it at length. But Fleming is both a Patriots player and a former Notre Damer. So there’s no way I’m going to miss out on a double shot of righteous indignation like this without weighing in on it here.
After a sleeping on it, Fleming’s story sounds less like a current event or a study in journalism than it does a Bible parable. Something Jesus would preach to teach us important, moral lessons:
A Good Samaritan stops along the road to help a traveler in need and is injured. He accepts no thanks and returns home without telling anyone of his good deed. The other villagers hear of it, but do not believe the story. They bear false witness against him, compare him to his old classmate who fell in love with a fake girl, and cast the first stone. When the story is proven true, they do not ask forgiveness for their sins. Amen.
And there are lessons to be learned from the entire episode. The Gospel According to Thornography:
5. Darius Fleming is a hero.
A car with deployed air bags fills with powder or whatever accelerant is used to inflate them. And it makes it look like the car is on fire and maybe about to explode. With that, he risked his life to help this woman, cut his leg kicking her window in, pulled her to safety, held her hand until the police arrived and went on his way without asking so much as a “thank you.” And in a world where some people would take selfies of their heroics and post them all over social media or hold a press conference to bask in their own glory, he said nothing. I once changed the tire of a girl I worked with and campaigned for a Congressional Medal of Honor for it. You’re a better man than I, Gunga Din.
4. No good deed goes unpunished.
If Fleming had just kept driving along, listening to another spectacularly entertaining “Unsportsmanlike Podcast,” minded his own business and left the rescuing to someone else, no one would’ve known. There would have been no suggesting he lied to cover up the real reason he cut himself. Ben Volin wouldn’t have reported there was no accident. TMZ would not have been quoting a ‘law enforcement source’ who said “it’s starting to look like Manti Te’o.”
3. Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.
In a world with Brian Williams, Deflategate, Te’o, that USC player who made up a story about saving a kid from drowning and Brandon Spikes slamming his car into another in the middle of the night and claiming he hit a deer, it’s perfectly normal to question everything anyone says. In fact, it’s healthy. But that includes being skeptical of media reports too. Believe only what you can verify.
2. Journalism is not dead.
While I’m all about the distrust, it was real, old-fashioned investigative reporting that got to the truth. Our producer Ben Kichen and my man Chris Villani of WEEI and the Herald simply took the time to go on line and find the report of the crash. Volin and TMZ apparently made phone calls that didn’t get them the information they wanted and went with the “there was no crash'” narrative. It’s 20 years after the Atlanta Olympics bombing and news outlets are still Richard Jeweling heroes rather than let the facts get in the way of a juicy story. But there are still people trying to get the facts, and the Internet gives us access to them.
1. It’s easier for a camel to fit through the head of a pin than for a media outlet to admit they blew it.
When the crash report was verified, TMZ’s ‘”correction” read “Cops Change Story… Questions Remain.” As Quint said in “Jaws,” “It proves one thing Mr. Hooper. It proves you wealthy college boys don’t have the education enough to admit when you’re wrong.”
Special bonus lesson: Darius Fleming is a hero.
It bears repeating. If we learn nothing else from this witch hunt, and I hope like hell we do, let’s remember this at least.
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