Deadspin Piece Accusing Cory Gardner of Lying About Playing Football Fails Spectacularly

Most people don't associate Deadspin with incisive political coverage, and there's a reason for that. The enjoyably snarky sports website published a piece accusing Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner of lying about having played high school football, only to have this dubious scoop explode when Gardner was able to prove he'd actually done so and the original source backed away from his comments. Details and hilarious Twitter response below.

See also: Video: Nugget JaVale McGee's Awful Play Turns Him Into a Deadspin Star

In "Is A Colorado Senate Candidate Lying About His Football Career?," Dave McKenna opens strong, writing: "Breaking news: Politician makes shit up!"

His example as this assertion applies to Gardner involves the latter's fondness for equating his long-ago days on the gridiron with the Democrats' tired policies. He offers this excerpt from a Washington Post piece on Gardner:

Cory Gardner figures that what he needs to know about big-league politics he learned as a fullback and middle linebacker for an eastern Colorado high school so small that the guys had to play both offense and defense.

"I used to play against a high school football team that always used to run the single wing. And eventually, other teams figured out that they ran the single wing. And so they prepared for it," the two-term Republican congressman said as he made his way through a game-day crowd at the Air Force Academy's Falcon Stadium this month. "The Democrats are stuck running the single wing."

As metaphors go, this line isn't exactly inspired -- but is it flat-out false. McKenna insisted that it was, quoting Chuck Pfalmer, a former teacher at Yuma High School, which Gardner attended, saying, "Cory Gardner wasn't on the football team."

A gotcha? Political observers certainly thought so. Check out this tweet from Gawker's Adam Weinstein -- one of several posts shared in a Twitchy item about the would-be controversy:

The Daily Dot's Kevin Collier had a similar take:

But shortly thereafter, the scoop fell apart. First, there was this from the Associated Press' Nick Riccardi.

Then Gardner himself tweeted photographic evidence not once....

...but twice:

To add insult to injury, Pfalmer stopped way short of endorsing Deadspin's work:

As for Deadspin, the site added an update to its post that reads:

Gardner campaign spokesman Alex Siciliano sent the following, presented in its entirety, via e-mail: "Cory Gardner played football from Junior High through Sophomore year in high school." Eli Stokols of FOX-31 in Denver is reporting the Gardner campaign told him, "Gardner played football through soph year of high school, never played varsity." Reached Wednesday night at his home, Chuck Pfalmer, longtime stats keeper for Gardner's alma mater, Yuma High School, and a primary source for the story, told me: "Cory did play football for three years" in high school, and that his records show that Gardner spent his junior year "on varsity." During a lengthy conversation about Yuma High football on Tuesday, Pfalmer repeatedly said Gardner had not played football at the school.
The defensiveness about Pfalmer's alleged flip-flop may explain why the original Deadspin post remains in place at this writing -- which may be the funniest development of all.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts