Athletes and fans often rave about columnists and journalists who get over their skis and make terrible predictions. Journalists don’t get cut for predictions, partially because, contrary to popular belief, it’s an ancillary aspect of the job. That’s for Vegas oddsmakers and Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight operation. However, if you’re looking for an example of a cocksure journalist being held accountable for being wrong, New Orleans Times Picayune Saints beat writer Larry Holder’s missing mane is a testament to the risks of making bombastic proclamations.
When the Saints were 0-2 in September, Holder said on his podcast that he would shave his head if the Saints reached 10 wins. The Saints did him one better and earned 11 wins. As a consequence, Holder had his head shaved in downtown New Orleans.
Holder’s mistake was not realizing that the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots were two of the best teams in the NFL and that Alvin Kamara would emerge as the NFL’s most dynamic change of pace back and that his presence in the short passing game would enable Drew Brees to become the new record holder for single season completion percentage. Even the Saints defense, was historically bad from 2014-2016 and surrendered 65 points in the first two weeks before coalescing.
Thankfully, Holder only bet his hair, however, this is further proof that even the most well-informed journalists should steer clear of high stakes betting.
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