"The REAL Hockey News" proclaims that its content is "true as puck." However, the appearance of posts such as "Tim Thomas Named Mitt Romney’s VP Running Mate" on 8/11 and "Flyers’ Scott Hartnell Accidentally Joins Ku Klux Klan" on 9/10 might suggest that everything be taken with a grain of salt.
Rick Reilly did not do that.
The ESPN columnist presented a fictional anecdote that was taken from the satirical NHL website as fact in a piece published on Thursday, as first reported by Deadspin.
In chronicling how players on Stanley Cup-winning teams spend their day with the most famous trophy in sports, Reilly reported that Los Angeles Kings Mike Richard used the Cup to taunt an ex-girlfriend, as described by Realhockeynews.com. "Mike Richards Spends Day with Stanley Cup Standing in Front of Ex-Girlfriend’s House" was published on The REAL Hockey News on August 5, 2012.
Anyone who visits the satirical hockey website will see that it was published one day after "P.K. Subban Not Signed Yet Because He Laughed Too Loud in a Restaurant" and one day before "Ilya Bryzgalov to Take Year Off, Going to Mars in Russian Space Shuttle."
After Deadspin uncovered the error, ESPN edited the article and added a correction notice to the bottom of the page.
An Oct. 18 story on ESPN.com incorrectly characterized what Mike Richards of the Los Angeles Kings did with the Stanley Cup during the offseason. The anecdote the story relied on was false.
Click over to Deadspin to see a screen grab of what Reilly's original article said.
Reilly is the second high-profile ESPN personality to learn the hard way that "peeps got jokes." In mid-September, Stephen A. Smith read an article from The Onion titled, "Stephen A. Smith Thinking Son Is Finally Ready For The Sex Argument" and went on an angry rant on Twitter. Eventually Smith realized that the article was a joke and let his Twitter followers know that he figured it out.
Given these written gaffes and Reilly's less-than-stellar on-camera work, Matt Yoder of Awful Announcing suggests that former SI columnist's contract with ESPN "may go down as one of the worst contracts in the history of sports media."
What do you think? Is Reilly earning his salary at ESPN?