Rose v. Manziel: A Case of the Media’ Misplaced Priorities

Johnny Manziel

Jackie Pepper argues that the media’s recent coverage of Derrick Rose and Johnny Manziel shows a clear case of a media whose priorities are all screwed up.


This afternoon I sat down at my computer to write a blog. I had it titled “Being Johnny Football: #ItsComplicated,” and the content outlined in my head. In the hopes of finding a few articles to cite in my blog, I pulled up twitter only to find a Richard Roeper retweet of a Chicago Sun-Times article about Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose.

The tweet read, “Derrick Rose on Chicago violence: ‘it all starts with poverty.’”

I thought, wait a minute… a superstar athlete is publicly discussing a pertinent social issue and offering meaningful insight? This, I have to see.

Blocked from reading the article because I’m not a Sun-Times subscriber, I did a quick Google search and was surprised to see a CNN interview in which Rose made these comments was five days old, yet this was the first I had heard of it.

Check out the first few sentences of the CNN article:

“NBA star Derrick Rose has spoken out about gun crime in his hometown of Chicago and identified poverty as its root cause.

The Chicago police department recorded 506 murders in 2012—with estimates that about 80 percent were gang related, while there have been 185 murders on record up until July 3rd this year.

“‘It all starts out from poverty,’ Rose, who grew up in the city’s impoverished South Side district of Englewood, told CNN.”

Perhaps the article and video clips from the interview got lost in the ocean of George Zimmerman coverage. But the “not guilty” verdict quickly popped race, gun laws and violence back up to the surface, so much so that crime in Chicago was often included in the Zimmerman conversation.

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Instead of seeing or hearing anything whatsoever about Rose’s comments in the last five days, we’ve been saturated with Dwight Howard’s press conference in Houston, whisperings of Major League Baseball potentially punishing Alex Rodriguez for alleged PED use, a magazine cover photo and most egregiously, the life and times of 20-year-old Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Johnny Manziel.

Chicago, we’ll raise your 506 murdered folk with this 558-word article dissecting and grading Manziel’s Wednesday press conference at SEC Media Day. The two topics certainly seem congruent in terms of real life impact and importance right?

It would be simplistic and naive not to consider the fact that the college football machine is just a tad more profitable than murder victims in urban Chicago, which likely contributes to the disparity in media coverage. But one would think that attaching the famous face of Rose to this issue might buy it more appeal.

After all, Google search “Derrick Rose crying” and you’ll get countless hits from major news outlets to personal blogs commenting on the video of Rose becoming emotional during a press conference at which he launched his new Adidas shoe.

Google search “Derrick Rose chicago gun violence” and this is all that comes up:


Really, Internet?

In the paparazzi/Internet age of celebrities lacking any inkling of privacy and straying from the “role model” tag, it’s surprising that we are ignoring one of the few megastars who embraces it.

Rose told CNN, “I’m young, but for some reason, people tend to listen to me, especially the younger kids.

“Just knowing where I grew up and what I had to go through to get where I’m at today. Being a role model, of course, that’s what I try to do.

“I try to stay positive, just really trying to bring hope to my city, where of course, we’re going through so much stuff with crime.”

Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan (among other globally recognized athletes) have often been criticized for refusing to publicly take a stand on social/political issues, yet when a high profile athlete finally steps up to the plate, we turn a blind eye. Heck, Jordan’s father was shot to death, and I couldn’t find any trace of the international icon discussing gun violence in South Carolina, Chicago or elsewhere.

Fans, reporters and pundits alike were quick to speculate about Rose’s return from a knee injury (understandably so in many cases), blanketing social media and traditional news platforms with coverage over the past year.

Rose’s mental state was picked apart on national television time after time last season, yet I haven’t seen his recent interview mentioned on cable sports networks, nor any discussion a few months ago of Rose’s offer to cover funeral costs for a 6-month-old girl shot and killed in Chicago.

When asked what he can do as an individual to help combat gun violence in his native Chicago, Rose told CNN, “I’m just trying to bring that positive energy back, bring that excitement back, so that we can get it back on the right track.”

The media so often judges the priorities of others, questioning why those who seem to have it all can’t stay on the right track. Isn’t it only fair that we ask the same of ourselves?

Photo: Dave Martin, AP

This post originally appeared at

About Jackie Pepper

Jackie Pepper is a sports journalist with nearly a decade of experience. As an anchor and reporter for Comcast SportsNet in Boston she covered the Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox and Bruins for the network's flagship show SportsNet Central and sister station New England Cable News. In addition to her work with Comcast Boston, Pepper also anchored and reported for CBS affiliate KIDK, covering the Utah Jazz and various sports teams throughout the United States.


  1. Tom Brechlin says:

    Jackie, I’ve given up on main stream media and haven’t read or listened for several years. News papers are simply used to line the bottom of my parrots cage.

    A couple of possible reasons why you won’t find things like this on front page? One is that people, namely men, read sports for sport content. The athlete and the events surrounding his/her life is interesting to the readers when it’s directly related to his/her sports profession. The other possibility is that Rose is saying what many have and will continue to say. There is a problem in these communities and as I pointed out in a couple of my responses to the Zimmerman trial, what about the hundreds that are murdered every year in Chicago. Rose brought the problem home to Chicago and the communities within Chicago. The Suntimes , as with most major media outlets kowtow to the local “government.”

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