By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Ladies and gentlemen, we have got ourselves a good old-fashioned source-off.
On one side, you've got the most plugged-in NFL reporter in the world, ESPN's Adam Schefter. In the other corner, it's Gabrielle Gilmore, the wife of Patriots star cornerback and reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Stephon Gilmore.
One of those contenders knows Gilmore rather well. The other might not know him at all -- but that's not stopping him from standing by his report that Stephon ate dinner with Cam Newton on the Friday night before the scheduled Kansas City game, even though Gabrielle says it did not happen.
"Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore had dinner Friday night," Schefter said on WEEI on Wednesday morning. "I don't know where they ate, but they had dinner together Friday night."
Schefter relented on the "out" to dinner portion of his report, while also taking issue with his report being called a "report" at all.
"I was doing a radio show. I don't remember the specific language that I said," Schefter shared with WEEI. "I thought I said that they had dinner together. Maybe I said they were out to dinner. I don't remember, OK, the semantics, again, because I don't know exactly where they had dinner, to be perfectly frank. But I don't believe it was out to dinner, like out in Boston. Right, but they had dinner together on Friday night."
Schefter had been pressed on his report during his interview on WEEI because Gabrielle said Tuesday afternoon that the reported dinner "out" never happened.
"There was no dinner out," she tweeted. "I'm going to help you out so you guys stop reporting false news."
Schefter noted during his WEEI interview that he was not certain whether the dinner happened out in public or in one of Gilmore's or Newton's homes. However, his initial report on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia indicated that the two players were "spotted" having dinner together -- an indication that the duo must have been in public for their meal in order to have been seen. (Surely if either one shared a photo on social media of a private, at-home meal, everyone would have seen it by now.) Gabrielle's use of the word "out" at least leaves open the door that a dinner was shared, just not in public, as it had been interpreted from Schefter's reporting.
"I was told that, in the New England area over the weekend, that Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore were spotted having dinner together on Friday night," Schefter said last week while reporting The Great Dinner News of 2020. "And I was aware of that over the weekend. So to hear that he tested positive, I gotta be honest, is not overly surprising to me. You know, if you're at a dinner table with somebody who's got the virus, there's a chance — I would think — that you're going to get the virus."
Considering that would have been/still is a very newsworthy tidbit regarding the NFL and COVID-19, and cosidering Schefter shared that tidbit on a local radio interview instead of on his national platform at ESPN, the tip may have fallen short on some of his usual reporting standards. And his wavering on Wednesday regarding exactly where the dinner took place does indeed expose some shakiness in the report.
"Well I have great respect for Stephon Gilmore and Mrs. Gilmore. I am not looking to refute anybody," Schefter said on WEEI, while simultaneously at least lightly refuting Mrs. Gilmore. "They weren't out to dinner but I'm just going to say that -- and I don't know why this is an issue. Like, Cam Newton tested positive early Saturday morning. The night before, Stephon Gilmore and Cam Newton had dinner. That's all. They didn't do anything wrong. There is nothing to that. They had dinner. What's the problem? Like, you can eat dinner with somebody that later tests positive. It's nobody's fault. But they did have dinner Friday night. It wasn't reported. I was basically on another radio station when it came up, and at that moment, it came up at the point that Stephon Gilmore had just tested positive or was placed on the list, whatever it was. And I was asked about it, and I said, 'Well that's interesting. He did have dinner with Cam on Friday night.' So it wasn't a report. It wasn't anything. It was just a fact. That's all it is. I'm not trying to upset anybody. I'm not trying to point any fingers. Not making any accusations. They had dinner Friday night. What's the big deal?"
The big deal, of course, is that Gilmore dining with a teammate has been turned into a case of both Gilmore and Newton not strictly abiding by all COVID-19 protocols, which makes for a good target for fans and media members who want to blame people for contracting a virus during a pandemic. Whether that judgment is fair or unfair is up to the individual, but having two star athletes on the same team testing positive will always bring about a certain level of attention. In the meanwhile, most people would be interested to know the precise truth, rather than some well-placed scuttlebutt.
Schefter is clearly holding firm: Gilmore ate with Newton on Friday, and later that night, Newton tested positive. Several days later, Gilmore tested positive -- after playing 100 percent of the Patriots' defensive snaps in Kansas City on Monday.
Will Gabrielle come back with another refutal? Or will the Great Supper Source-Off come to an end? We'll all have to wait and see.
Source-off: Over. For now.
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