On Monday, the NFL Network provided the spark to the Julius Peppers-to-New England rumors. On Tuesday, it provided the water.
A day after Vic Carucci reported a deal for Peppers was developing and almost imminent, his colleague, Adam Schefter, pulled the plug on the topic of major conversation in New England.
"This trade is not gonna happen," Schefter said on the WEEI radio station. "Julius Peppers will not be a New England Patriot next season."
Schefter is renowned around the league and in the media for being a reliable source with often breaking news about injuries and transactions, and his definitive words seem to be a severe blow to any hopes of landing the four-time Pro Bowler.
At the same time, Carucci, a senior columnist, has access to the best sources around, and it's unlikely his reporting would be based on anything but an insider's true word.
With two opposite statements, it's clear someone is telling the truth. The other is admirably misled.
Carucci's reasons for the deal made sense. Carolina doesn't want to pay first-round pick money, especially when they can get a player only two picks away from the opening round (No. 34 overall) for a bargain price. Not to mention, Peppers wants a defense like New England's, and New England wants a rusher like Peppers.
Schefter's doubt in the deal's possibility makes sense. Carolina doesn't want to give up a franchise player for a single second-round pick. Not to mention, New England wants Logan Mankins and Vince Wilfork back, and Jason Taylor as a free agent, more than Peppers.
This is nothing new to the way the Patriots operate. New England rarely broadcasts its retooling plans, and its business can be difficult to follow and interpret.
In February of 2007, the Boston Herald reported that the Patriots had serious interest in acquiring Randy Moss from the Raiders. Over the next two months, other media outlets contradicted the rumor, and killed off any speculation of the move occurring. The Herald even came full circle, reporting Moss was headed elsewhere.
On draft day, Moss became a Patriot.
Even last summer, the Patriots made John Lynch a late preseason cut, sparking belief in the media that the move was a salary tactic, and that Belichick intended on having Lynch back.
Lynch remained on the free agent wire, and retired. Months later, hampered by injury, the Patriots were again expected to make an emergency offer to the former All-Pro safety. Didn't happen.
Now, with the Patriots seeking ways to prepare their team for 2009, the media again is as mixed as a Brandy Sour. This time, the subject is Julius Peppers. Once again, the outcome may be a surprise.