Allow us to offer you a little something that's sadly too hard to come by in the 2012 "journalism" machine. Context coupled with level-headed perspective. (And yes, we heard that astounded gasp all the way over here.)
By now, you might know that Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway has taken some heat in recent days and has felt obligated to apologize for an off-the-cuff joke he made in the locker room following last Sunday's 23-14 loss in Green Bay.
Here's how it all went down. Just because we feel you deserve to know.
The Vikings had absorbed a brutal loss to the Packers in a game they probably should have won. It was a defeat that likely put an end to the team's playoff chances. From the second the visiting locker room doors opened at Lambeau Field, you could tell the agitation inside was raw.
As many Vikings players stood around and answered the usual barrage of postgame questions, Greenway was approached by three local reporters: myself, Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan and 1500ESPN's Tom Pelissero.
A minute or so in, a cameraman from a local Green Bay TV station jumped into the mix.
Greenway -- as he always does after a triumphant win or galling loss -- stepped up to offer his take on the loss. It was, as more postgame locker room exchanges should be, a candid and casual back-and-forth without inane formulaic questions or pre-packaged cliche answers. (Imagine that!)
Two minutes in, Greenway was asked whether the Vikings' Week 14 game with Chicago essentially became the game for the entire season.
"Yeah," he affirmed. "I think it is. You look at it with the travel coming up after that, why not call it that? And we have to play accordingly. I mean our fans have to show up accordingly, which we know they will. Hopefully they're super duper drunk."
Greenway shrugged. The three of us chuckled. Harmless humor.
"You know what," the linebacker continued, "if you look at it that way, it's 'You've got to win the game. Let's go win the game.' That's just what it's got to be. It's got to be our approach during practice during the week. Our coaches need to coach that way. Our players need to play that way. Our scouts need to scout that way. You just go win the game. You have to win the game. So sell out. That's the approach it's got to be. So drink liquor not beer."
Souhan chimed in with a laugh: "Is that a noon game? So you're advocating like morning drinking essentially?"
Responded Greenway: "Yeah. I mean. Morning drinking? Why not? You could pull an all-nighter. Then you'd have the drunk, tired guys who are really obnoxious."
Souhan: "But then they'll all fall asleep in the second quarter."
Greenway: "We'll just have to give them a reason to stay up."
And off the conversation went into a discussion of Aaron Rodgers' brilliant mobility.
Yet somehow this is the exchange that has caused a tornado of hullabaloo in the last couple days. Hand-plucked out of the interview with no understanding for the tone or setting of the conversation. Blogs have run wild with Greenway's quote as a way to fuel the chatter machine. That includes The Huffington Post and Fox Sports' Yardbarker blogs.
Oh, and Pro Football Talk wants Greenway to be fined. Seriously.
Hey, when a standout athlete encourages the fans to drink, it makes for a sexy headline that will generate a flood of Internet clicks. Even if much of the accompanying commentary is too much of a breathless overreaction.
Now? ESPN has made Greenway's comments a national headline with a story linked off its front page on ESPN.com. The story's headline: 'Chad Greenway wants drunk 'Dome'
This coming four days after Greenway spent 23 seconds trying to lighten a depressed mood after a tough loss.
Today, during a radio interview with ESPN-1000 in Chicago, Greenway addressed the comments.
"Obviously, I could have used some more responsible words," Greenway told hosts Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman. "I think the people that know me, the beat writers included, know that I said that sort of tongue-in-cheek. I just wanted the fans at home to be loud like they always are. I think just trying to drive that point home I probably got a little loose with my words. Obviously should have been a little more responsible with it. It was said so what do you do?"
Kudos to Greenway for taking that tone and growing neither defensive nor overly apologetic.
And we wonder why there's an increasingly reticent relationship amongst reporters and players across sports today.