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NFL TV Partners Unsure How To Handle Player Protests

“Michael McCarthy raises the possibility that the NFL may try to ban its TV partners from showing the protests or from showing individual players wearing particular messages calling out the NFL.”

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Kap Kneeling

Executives at NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, and ESPN are all debating how their networks will handle player protests in the NFL. According to a report from Front Office Sports’s Michael McCarthy, says that all of the NFL’s TV partners are torn on what the right approach is.

Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the National Anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality against minorities. During that season, all networks showed the pregame playing of the anthem as a news event.

Since the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, many NFL players have pointed to Kaepernick’s protest and the reaction of the League and team owners to say that the NFL’s goal was always to ignore and discredit the issue by focusing on the action instead of the message. In a powerful video, some of the NFL’s biggest stars demanded commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledge the league was wrong. He did and also said that he would not have a problem with players kneeling in 2020.

On a recent episode of her podcast Jemele Hill is Unbothered, Hill said that protesting racial injustice and kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before NFL games have become so linked that for it to happen again would be “too big to ignore.”

“They have to make the connection between the unrest and the protesting – and the fact that racism has become the No. 1 emphasis in America right now,” she said. “There is a heavy interest in seeing how athletes respond at this moment. George Floyd does not have had to have died a week before to make it newsworthy.”

An anonymous network executive told McCarthy that he expects networks will cover any protests as news events.

“I would say with Roger Goodell and the NFL itself saying they were wrong to stand in the way of silent protest, I believe that gives the networks the freedom to show kneeling if that takes place – and possibly interview the player later in the locker room,” the source said.

Michael McCarthy raises the possibility that the NFL may try to ban its TV partners from showing the protests or from showing individual players wearing particular messages calling out the NFL. Multiple PR/marketing executives told McCarthy that would be a mistake. Such action would likely create more stories that make the NFL look bad.

One PR executive pointed out that ratings for the three largest cable news networks in the United States were up across the board in May. That means there is interest in the protest. Allowing TV partners to show players kneeling could actually result in higher ratings.

Sports TV News

Peyton Manning Doesn’t Believe Manningcast Will Ever Be Season-Long

“We thought 10 was a good number. We kind of run out of things to talk about after 10. Plus, I think it keeps our guests kind of fresh.”

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The Manningcast has grown to become the most popular alternate broadcast in an ever-expanding space, but Peyton Manning said he doesn’t believe the show will ever be seen during the entire season.

During a Q&A with USA Today, Manning said he doesn’t see the alternate broadcast ever growing to be the entire season.

“We thought 10 was a good number. We kind of run out of things to talk about after 10. Plus, I think it keeps our guests kind of fresh. Thirty guests that really love football, come from different professions and different backgrounds just kind of makes it more fresh. But ESPN, certainly, says there are certain games that are important to them, but then Eli and I had the ability where, if a date didn’t work because of a family commitment or whatnot, maybe we go to the next week.” 

Manning was also asked how he stays focused with all of the production elements going on while he’s also on the air.

“It’s a little chaotic,” Manning said. “I think at first, Eli and I were kind of like maybe worried about the delay, we kept talking over each other. We had some hot mic moments. Eli shot the double-bird last year. I think we kind of came to find out that’s what makes the show a little different. That you’re going to have that, and it’s not going to be so buttoned-up. The football game is still the priority. But maybe those slow times in the game, a 2nd-and-1 running play from your own 20-yard line, maybe not that interesting to break that down. So let’s talk to Snoop Dog about his youth football experience and his passion for the Pittsburgh Steelers. So we feel like we kind of know when to bring the guest in.”

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Sports TV News

Jenny Taft Details Security Measures For Female Journalists In Qatar For World Cup

“I just had to go through a special gate in Qatar for ladies only. Somehow, I don’t feel that special about it.”

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Much has been made about the abysmal human rights record of World Cup host Qatar as the Middle East nation sees worldwide attention for one of the first times. FOX Sports reporter Jenny Taft detailed the experience of a female journalist covering the event, and was less than impressed.

“I just had to go through a special gate in Qatar for ladies only,” Taft said. “Somehow, I don’t feel that special about it.”

Taft had received pushback from viewers and media personalities for her coverage during the World Cup opener, and her interview with the organizers of Qatar’s bid to host the event. Many called FOX’s coverage “tone-deaf” and “proppoganda”.

Taft has continued chronically her experience at the World Cup on her TikTok account, with one video mentioning how difficult it was to leave behind her baby for the nearly month-long assignment.

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Sports TV News

Peter Burns Apologizes To Ben Watson After On-Air Joke About Wife

In a tweet, Burns said “the truth is that I crossed the line”, noting that Watson “couldn’t have handled it better with his humor and class”.

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SEC Network host Peter Burns has publicly apologized to analyst Ben Watson and his wife Kirsten for an off-color joke he made during halftime of Saturday’s Florida/Vanderbilt game on the network.

While joking about Watson’s suit being lighter in color than everyone else’s on set, Watson said he didn’t care what the other hosts thought about his suit, just as long as his wife thought he looked nice, and asked her to “send the text” letting him know he looked good. Burns quipped “that’s not the text she sent me” before going to commercials. When the show returned, Burns and Watson were not on set, and the former NFL tight end insinuated the pair had a strong disagreement during the break.

Later that evening, Burns tweeted a picture of the pair with the caption #Friendship, which Watson retweeted saying Burns needed to publicly apologize. He did that Monday evening.

In a tweet, Burns said “the truth is that I crossed the line”, noting that Watson “couldn’t have handled it better with his humor and class”.

An ESPN representative had previously told OutKick the entire situation was a joke, calling it a “performance bit”, adding Watson “100% deserves an Emmy nomination”.

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