It's been a month and a half since the epic saga of former NY Daily News Jets beat writer Manish Mehta reached its peak with this rant from Kevin Clancy. And one month exactly since Mehta's reign over the kingdom that is the NY tabloid back pages came to an end. He was fired amid accusations in the Washington Post that he had set up a Twitter burner account to make it look like it belonged to Adam Gase, was posting content of another NYDN writer as his own, and creeped on family members of Jets management and players.
Since then (to the best of my knowledge at least), this once mighty king has gone more or less dark. Until today. Until he joined Toucher and Rich on The Sports Hub to give his side of the story.
Source - He believes the Jets simply wanted to avoid critical or unflattering stories coming out from him about the organization.
"The Jets have been very sensitive to criticism, so they went to these extraordinary lengths to try to remove me from the beat, because I found out a lot of their dysfunctional inner-workings," Mehta said. "No team should be able to get away with this. You should not be able to suppress a journalist by smearing their reputation with distortions and embellishments, and sometimes just flat-out fabrications, just because you don't like what they are reporting and writing, and that's exactly what happened here. The NFL, frankly, took the Jets' word for it without ever talking to me or my editors about whether any of those claims were true.
"Fundamentally, this is wrong. It sets a very dangerous precedent."
One of the more controversial accusations against Mehta was that he interacted with the son of Jets GM Joe Douglas in an inappropriate way at a baseball game. Mehta described the interaction as "innocuous" and said he had been having friendly text conversations with Douglas at the time.
"The Jets framed that incident and said that Joe Douglas got a strange text out of nowhere from an unknown number saying that 'Hey I just saw your son at a baseball game,' as if I was monitoring his son in some way," Mehta said. "I don't quite understand it."
And - One of the most scandalous accusations against Manish Mehta involves current Patriots kicker Nick Folk ... then with the Jets, and his wife Julianne were entangled in one such controversy. According to the Washington Post, Folk told the Jets in 2016 that Mehta threatened his wife with "bad coverage" if she didn't stop criticizing his stories on Twitter. ... It started because of an article Mehta wrote about a Cardinals-Seahawks game, in which he opined that the NFL should get rid of kickers altogether. Julianne Folk took exception to the story.
Mehta categorically denied the accusations of threatening behavior, with Folk and his wife or with anyone else.
"I have nothing bad to say about Nick Folk," Mehta said. "At no point did I ever threaten Nick Folk or his wife about bad coverage. I don't do that. My entire career has been built on relationships and trust with people in the NFL, that's the reason I get information. I don't get information by threatening anybody and I have never threatened anyone to get information, that's not how I operate. I operate on mutual trust.
"At no point did I ever say I would write critical things about Nick Folk if his wife continued tweeting defending her husband. That never happened."
Well there we have it. I'm glad he was able to clear that up. Manish was never a blindly ambitious tabloid journalist who would take credit for his co-workers' labor, stop at nothing to increase his access, develop sinister, Machiavellian plots to intimidate anyone who got in his way, menace the children and wives of the men he dealt with and publicly humiliate the people he covered to suit his own purposes. He's a victim. Several times over.
Either that, or Manish is the unluckiest guy in the history of sports journalism. Somehow he had the misfortune of bumping into Joe Douglas' son at the exact same time some other guy with Douglas' phone number was texting him about the same son at the same game. And Julianne Folk also mistakenly assumed he was trying to intimidate her when he was doing the furthest thing from that. What a string of bad breaks those were. And I'm sure could happen to anyone. There but for the grace of God goes every beat writer who covers a particular team.
So thank, Manish, for clearing the air finally. Once word gets out about these bizarre and wacky misunderstandings, I'm sure you'll be back on the job in no time.