Somebody is lying in a very public way about a situation that can only be described as disturbing. Both Dalvin Cook and the woman with whom he had a relationship are referring to themselves as victims at the hands of the other.
Their versions of a 2020 domestic violence incident are polar opposites in accusations, and you know who doesn't know the truth? Me. You. The media. The Vikings. The NFL. Maybe even their lawyers.
None of us was present when whatever happened, happened. Only Cook and his former girlfriend, Gracelyn Trimble, and apparently two guests in Cook's Inver Grove Heights home.
Don't worry, though: Twitter got to the bottom of it Tuesday evening. That part of this ugly story stinks to high heaven.
The piecemeal rollout of details and images by league-affiliated media, news media, bloggers and social media created confusion about Cook's role. And part of that was by design. The story first reached public consumption in a shrewdly manipulated and underhanded way.
Cook's representatives contacted national media, specifically ESPN, to pass along their big headline: Cook was the victim of domestic abuse and extortion. The reaction to that one-sided story plastered on Twitter was swift and predictable.
People didn't just rush to judgment and pretend to know unequivocally what transpired in that house. They burst through the door as if their own house was on fire. Cook was the beneficiary of overwhelming sympathy.
The Star Tribune published a story soon after that included multiple days' worth of reporting on a lawsuit against Cook. The story included an interview with Trimble, who shared an entirely different version of events, and also the explanations and accusations from Cook's side.
Cook's team used a cozy league media partner with a massive audience to get their side out as soon as possible. They proactively offered a rebuttal to a lawsuit and news story that had not become public yet. Why? In part to create chaos and doubt.
The power, and pitfalls, of media and social media in shaping narratives were on full display.
Again, we don't know the truth about what happened. Maybe we'll learn one day whether the sympathy for Cook or the sympathy for Trimble was justified Tuesday night. I am not assigning or assuming guilt for either side.
But rather than attempt to sway public opinion and discredit Trimble through the media with shady tactics, Cook's camp should do what his accuser did if they feel his reputation has been damaged: Build a case and file a countersuit. A lawsuit carries more weight and credibility than issuing statements.
On Wednesday, Cook reiterated that he is the victim when he met with reporters. He also said he intends to play Sunday. He referred questions about specific details to his lawyer. Cook has been so forceful in asserting his innocence that he's inviting more scrutiny into the case.
The NFL will monitor the situation, but this is a civil lawsuit, not a criminal matter. Nobody has been arrested or charged with a crime. The allegations by both sides are serious, but the police have not been asked to get involved.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he knows very little about the situation, framing it as "it is what it is." It seems dubious that a head coach would brush off a serious incident involving a star player without asking questions, but Zimmer clearly had no intention of sharing more than he needed to with reporters.
Perhaps this case gets resolved quietly in private. Publicly, people with a lot at stake will continue to sell versions of the story. Some readers and viewers will listen. Some had their minds made up after the first manipulated tweet.