Robert Smith vs. Mike Florio

Mike Florio has built himself a nice little internet sports bullsh***ing empire with PFT, a place that has become indispensable to football junkies and scandal lovers alike.  Of course, with great success comes great arrogance, and in the internet universe, nothing reveals the latter more than an iron-fisted attitude toward commenters, those often anonymous folks who not only digest the power-mad blogger’s baloney but, if things are working correctly, act as a check on it.  Evidently, Mr. Florio doesn’t think he needs to have his arrogance checked by commenters, hence his policy of deleting those remarks he deems too scathingly critical.  I know for a fact he deletes them too:  I’ve had comments thrown out before on PFT, and considered myself honored to have been acknowledged in even this roundabout way. That’s how desperate I am for attention.

Now, thanks to Deadspin, I know I am not alone in being abused by the thin-skinned Mr. Florio:  It has also happened to Robert Smith, the former Vikings running back who has made a decent post-football name for himself as an articulate if sometimes insufferable analyst.  Smith tried taking issue with the way Florio has inserted himself into the NFLPA’s search for a replacement for the deceased Gene Upshaw, and when the comments he tried posting on PFT got deleted, he fought back by sending the following email to Deadspin:

I’ve been trying to post comments on some of Florio’s stories and he is censoring out my posts ( as well as others I’m sure ). I have a problem with the way he has been presenting information in the NFLPA saga with Troy Vincent and it’s clear that Mike is in Troy’s pocket. It bothers me that someone who claims to have an “open forum” for these discussions is going out of his way to keep what he perceives as negative comments off of his website. Obviously, the blogs are not regulated like the regular media, but it’s frustrating and disappointing that someone like Mike, who has so much respect in the industry, is manipulating information. I don’t know what can be done about it, but I thought that a site like yours would be a good place to start to expose frauds in your industry.
Thanks,
Robert Smith

Did he just call Mike Florio a fraud?  I always liked Robert but now I love him (in fact, allow me to apologize for that articulate but insufferable remark – there’s nothing insufferable about Robert Smith). Of course, Florio being an over-sensitive little weasel who spends most of his time Googling himself to see if anyone’s talking about him, it took about four minutes for Deadspin to get the following response:

I have always admired Robert Smith as a player and as a person, and I’m flattered by (though I’m not sure I agree with) his statement that I am respected in the industry. Robert has contacted me in the past when he has had questions or concerns about things posted on my site, and I am disappointed and confused by the fact that he chose not to raise his current complaint with me directly before instigating an effort with Deadspin and possibly others to expose me as a “fraud.”

As to Robert’s contention that I’m “in Troy’s pocket,” let me be clear on this (and I’m wagging my finger, Bill Clinton style, as I articulate it). I don’t know Troy Vincent. I’ve never spoken to him, never heard from him, and never been contacted by him or by any intermediaries who support his candidacy for Executive Director of the NFLPA.

Frankly, I don’t care whether Vincent or Trace Armstrong or someone else gets the job. (However, I do believe that DeMaurice Smith is grossly unqualified to be a finalist, and I’ve articulated that view on the web site.)

As to Robert’s allegations regarding the deletion of comments, I reserve the right to do so whenever and however I see fit. I assume that any other web site that incorporates reader comments, from the smallest to the largest, applies the same approach. There is no real rhyme or reason to the process, other than looking for grossly offensive words or phrases. I routinely allow comments critical of me, especially when they are funny.

In this specific case, I believe Robert is referring to a couple of comments that included a link to the recent New York Post item attacking Vincent. I deleted those comments because I intended to write (and I did write) a separate item focusing on the New York Post article in question.

In my estimation, the most eye-opening revelation here is that Smith and possibly others with ties to current union leadership are using the comments section of ProFootballTalk.com as a vehicle for posting in anonymous fashion their opinions and beliefs regarding the process. I have since invited Robert to write an article to be published at PFT — not anonymously but with his name attached to it — addressing any issues that are on his mind regarding the current state of the NFLPA.

He has declined to do so.

This is where, in the old days, someone would’ve called for pistols at dawn.  Unfortunately, we live in a more-civilized era where people resolve their differences by apologizing, which is what Robert did in the wake of Florio’s rejoinder.  Whatever.  The fact remains that PFT is a great site, practically the greatest site in the history of the universe frankly, that happens to be run by one of the world’s most gigantic dickheads.  Actually, it’s likely PFT would not be the great site it is if Florio were anything less than a gigantic dickhead.  So I guess my feelings about him will have to remain mixed.  I both adore him and wish he would be run over by a delivery truck (driven by me, with a maniacal grin on my face).

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