A.J. Burnett is fuming, steaming and most likely darn right mad.

He’s mad at ESPN voice on the radio, Colin Cowherd.

This one’s a doozie.

Seems the guy with the strange name—that would be Mr. Cowherd—said something on his show about the New York Yankees pitcher that he might, at this moment, want to take back.

Ah, but such is the beauty of our modern day sports talk radio. Once you say it, it’s ON the record. No misquotes, no pleading and no back-peddling.

Seems the guy whose name rhymes with what we used to call Cow Patties put this gem out there on the airwaves for all to absorb:

“A.J. Burnett went through a terrible divorce, and he still might be going through it. His wife was vindictive and spiteful. I don’t feel comfortable telling you everything. The story is ugly.”

So sayeth Colin Cowherd. Oh my.

Now comes Burnett’s agent, Darek Braunecker with his response to Cowherd’s statement. It goes like this:

“A.J. is ticked. He’s not going through a divorce, and if he was, it would not be anyone’s business. They (Burnett and wife Karen) are happily married.”

Oh my.

Looks like the boys in Bristol have themselves a nice little firestorm here, doesn’t it?

And such is the beast that talk radio has become. There’s certainly a lot of it out there.

There’s a guy named Jim Rome who spouts his “take” over and over again. He is the master of repetition and he does take some listener calls, although they are screened harder than guys entering the Pentagon. You are not allowed to take issue with Rome, there is no debate. Praise him and you’re on, otherwise, forget it.

Tampa Bay is blessed with outstanding sports talk radio. We have a guy named Steve Duemig on 620 WDAE who does what talk radio hosts should do—an enormous amount of research and preparation for his three-hour show. He’ll take virtually any call and doesn’t mind screaming at callers who know little about the subject being tossed.

On the same station, former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Ian Beckles can give a perspective on the NFL through the eyes of a player who spent 10 years in the league. Beckles’ takes are typically sharp and he can back up what he says from watching film and from his experience on the field.

Which brings us back to this tizzy now where ESPN, the king of commentary and the worldwide leader in sports, has gone “no comment” on this brewing feud between Burnett and Cowherd.

Cowherd had some explaining to do.

Either Burnett and his wife are getting a divorce or they aren’t. It’s easy enough. Either this has been filed in court or it hasn’t.

Yes, Cowherd’s got some serious explaining to do on this one.

So is the nature of sports talk radio gossip or fact?

The fact is, if any talk radio host is making a claim, he better be able to prove it, back it up and simply know what the heck he’s talking about.

These shows are ratings-driven, that’s a fact. Controversy is always good. It brings listeners, it drives ratings. But there’s still a little thing out there called libel. It’s something everyone is aware of.

If in fact Burnett’s agent is correct and Cowherd is totally uninformed, then there’s bound to be some real scrambling going on with ESPN’s battery of well-compensated lawyers.

The nature of talk radio is that Cowherd could end up at some point in time, eating crow on the air, taking it all back and throwing out a barrage of mea culpas.

But that remains to be seen, or in this case, heard.

Cowherd, he’s always talking.

But for once, on this one, ESPN isn’t.

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