As you've heard, Zack Follett caught some flak on Tuesday for referring to his team's quarterback Matthew Stafford as "a china doll right now." What started off as an innocent, honest quote ultimately turned into SportsCenter wasting a minute of air-time making Follett look like a bad teammate (as far as we know, he's not).
The Freep first got wind of the comments Follett made on Fresno's ESPN 1430 radio station. Shortly after The Freep's post, Follett went on Detroit's 97.1 The Ticket to clarify that he had zero malicious intent and reiterated that there were other comments surrounding the "china doll" bit to put it all into understandable context.
But the damage had already been done. The story was picking up steam and, with that, fans were starting to fling their flaming tweets and Facebook messages at Follett. Obviously bothered by the reaction and none too pleased with what Lions beat writer Tom Kowalski said, Follett decided to send out another message via video:
Follett mentions very early that he cleared this up with Stafford and Stafford said it was no big deal. That easily could've been the end of the video. End of story. However, Follett is visibly riled up that this went as far as a fan questioning his faith.
In defending his strong connection with God, Follett went on to cite a pair of Christian rappers (Flame and Lecrae) and the Bible's Ephesians 6:10-17 while passionately preaching that these situations are simply him being confronted by the devil's evil plot to destroy him and he needs to keep his armor of God up to take a stand against it. It's not very hard to decipher that Follett is referring to the hate tweets and the media (specifically Tom Kowalski) as Satan.
Sure enough, Tom Kowalski saw the video and felt it necessary to clarify his own words:
Follett suffered a serious neck injury last year and it's unlikely he will play football again (Follett has yet to make any official decision). I made the comment that if Stafford wanted to get dirty about it, he could fire back at Follett and say - and I'm paraphrasing - 'If you think I'm a china doll, I'll be playing next year and you won't be.''
That last comment was picked up by a listener and delivered via the 140-character Twitter. Follett apparently believed that I was taking cheap shots at him and making light of his significant neck injury. He did not hear the entire radio segment and couldn't hear my defense of him and assumed only the worst - which he made clear in this video.
Here are a couple of things Follett needs to know about the media: Words have meaning and words have power and when you misuse them (even innocently) there can be a severe backlash -- especially when you say them about the team's star quarterback.
Words are definitely powerful. But, again -- to be completely clear -- Follett called Stafford a "china doll." In this day and age, "china doll" does not mean an Asian prostitute. In fact, in the sports realm, it's not even used to refer to glossy, elaborately decorated pieces of porcelain. By calling Stafford a "china doll" Follett is clearly suggesting (albeit unorthodoxly) that Stafford has been breakable, fragile, or brittle -- not exactly a lie in describing the guy who has missed 19 of his 32 NFL games due to injury. Further, two words full of meaning that have been conveniently left out in all of this are the two succeeding "china doll": "right now." Matthew Stafford is a "china doll right now." That suggests it's entirely possible Stafford will not be a china doll tomorrow. If he can stay healthy, which Follett prays will be the case (also in the interview), Stafford could no longer be the china doll most -- if not all -- Lions fans have joked he's been thus far in his career. Follett's alleged misuse of words was no more careless than Kowalski's idea for a Stafford rebuttal on his afternoon radio gig.
Here is what's really humorous about this Follett/Kowalski back and forth, though. Follett is called out by the media because two words from an entire interview, of which he spends the majority-percent praising Stafford, were taken out of context. In reacting to it, Follett does the same thing to Tom Kowalski, a prominent media member in Detroit. Kowalski then sends a memo to Follett by saying, in part, "Hey, you shouldn't assume the worst based on something you've taken out of context." See the contrasting principles?
Kowalski ended his MLIVE memo by saying "what Follett said doesn't make him bad -- and us reporting it doesn't make us bad either." True, but the initial interpretation of two measly words from an entire interview and how they were reported have undoubtedly made Follett look bad. In turn, it makes those reporting it look bad, too.