BOSTON (CBS) — Friday was a bit of a wild day for anyone who closely follows the Patriots, but it all ended up being over nothing.
As a quick refresher: Two folks on the internet warned of some big Patriots news, and shortly thereafter rumors started to bubble up about a potential Rob Gronkowski trade. Those rumors reached a new level when Barstool Sports openly speculated that Gronkowski would be traded, but the chatter was quickly shot down. However, the day didn’t end before a juicy report hit the world of Twitter.
Reporter Adam Kurkjian — formerly of the Boston Herald, currently a freelancer covering high school sports — tweeted some information based on sources he talked to that were rather surprising. First, he said that Bill Belichick wanted to trade Gronkowski and that offers had been made by the 49ers and the Titans. Second, he said that Tom Brady threatened retirement if such a deal went through, leading to Robert Kraft nixing the deal.
It was quite the report. Kurkjian wasn’t the only one reporting it; Adam Bogdan shared a similar story on his account of @PatriotsInform, and the mystery Twitter user “Brian G” who had warned of some big news coming Friday also said the same thing as Kurkjian.
But those were just a couple of Twitter accounts without much to lose. Kurkjian, though, is standing by his reporting, and he spoke to both morning shows in Boston on Monday morning to reiterate that what he reported was true.
On 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich, Kurkjian was asked what he knew about the meeting during which Brady threatened retirement.
“That it happened,” Kurkjian said.
On WEEI’s Kirk & Callahan, Kurkjian was asked why anybody in the Patriots organization would believe such a threat. Kurkjian said he didn’t initially believe it, either.
“The first piece of information I got was that Brady was willing to retire over something like this. And it turned out to be a trade with Rob Gronkowski. So, you know, I asked around, I didn’t believe any of this, and I was not looking to break any of this, because I didn’t believe any of it until I started asking around,” Kurkjian said. “When you get a tip like this, you have to be very careful, because the information is very sensitive. I asked around, I narrowed down the scope of the information that I was given into the tweet, and I worded the tweet very carefully. Because that’s what I was able to get. And so when I took the information to Stacey, only the information that I took to [Patriots VP of communications Stacey James] was in the tweet word-for-word. He denied it, and I think what people don’t understand here is that they think that’s where it stops. I took it to one more person, and this person has as much access into the information as Stacey. And you’re just going to have to trust me on that.”
Kurkjian told Toucher & Rich some more about that other person who confirmed the story.
“I went to Stacey, he denied it, I still thought there were legs to it because I did believe in my sources. And I went an extra mile and talked to somebody else with access to as much information as Stacey. And that person confirmed everything,” Kurkjian said. “And it was then and only then that I tweeted this out. Had that person also denied what was in the tweet, I would not have done anything. None of this would have come out.”
Also on that wild Friday, NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran and Mike Giardi reported that the Patriots did discuss some Gronkowski trade scenarios this offseason, though those talks didn’t happen specifically last week. Kurkjian was asked on Kirk & Callahan to clarify the timeline of his Gronkowski information.
“I was not given a specific timeline. … I was able to confirm everything in the tweet, both before and after I talked to Stacey,” Kurkjian said. “I know that everything began in the offseason. But as far as the specific offers and stuff like and the specific timelines of the trades, I wasn’t given that.”
Kurkjian also said his sources did not reveal what type of return package the Patriots were offered for Gronkowski.
“I didn’t know the terms. I wasn’t given that. I wasn’t given that,” Kurkjian told Kirk & Callahan. “I got the sense that it was going to be big, like just from the fact that it was Gronkowski, that it was going to be a big type of deal. Because obviously it is.”
Kurkjian was told directly on Kirk & Callahan that considering he did not get a timeline or specifics of a return package, the report does not sound true.
“Well, I … it is,” he said.
In both interviews, Kurkjian eventually stated how and why he ended up reporting on this matter.
“I understand that a story like this comes out that a lot of people question my credibility. I understand that people aren’t going to believe me and stuff like this. But this was something that was too big to sit on. And I know what I have,” he said on Toucher & Rich. “And I’ve gotten confirmation after the fact, in terms of private messages from people. A lot of people have publicly denied what was in the tweet, but I’ve actually felt a lot better since then because the private things that I’ve gotten are like, ‘Hey man, you got this right.’ In fact somebody that was too afraid to talk to me about something else that I was working on reached out through an intermediary and said ‘Yeah, your guy got this one right.’”
On Kirk & Callahan, he said “The reason I was only working it, I was working on something else actually, and the information I was seeking for that story, somebody did not want to even talk to me on it. All right? And it did have something to do with the Patriots — I can’t go into it further — but I can tell you this. After this tweet came through, I heard back from an intermediary of that person saying that I got this correct. So ever since all this has come out, I’ve privately gotten a lot of confirmations. I’ve gotten zero denials.
“In answering your question, I’ve been working on a lot of stuff in my freelance work right now. And I was able to chase this only because the information I was getting was so specific, including the names of the teams. So, you know, when you have stuff like that coming in, you almost have to as a journalist just seek out to see if it’s true. Because I wasn’t looking to break a story, and honestly if I didn’t get that last domino to fall from somebody who I trust with the information who would know just as much as Stacey James, there is no tweet, there is no story, and I would just go out with my Friday night as usual.”
Kurkjian said it’s up to readers and listeners to decide whether or not they take his report seriously.
“I can’t tell you why you should take me seriously or not,” Kurkjian said “But the information in there is correct.”