In the wake of Rob Parker’s comments about Redskins’ QB Robert Griffin III – Parker has been suspended by ESPN – and all the reaction from NFL players about the incident, I thought I’d check in with the NFL Players Association to get their thoughts on the incident.
George Atallah, Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs at the NFLPA, spoke with me earlier. He was not aware that Parker’s comments had been picked up by the non-sports sites like the Drudge Report:
The first reaction I had was a sense of disappointment, but not surprise, given that I know what the history of that show has been like when it comes to these types of issues.
My 2nd thought was to make sure that the comments were isolated to that show. ESPN has a million different platforms and unfortunately, they have to come to a decision as to when their reputation is more important than ratings. At what point do the mistakes of a few impact the outstanding work of the many? At what point are the ratings more than reputation or vice versa.”
[We] just want to make players aware of what the discourse is on any show. Whether it’s this show or a different network that has a debate program, the most important thing is that players realize there is money being generated off of their free time. Money is being generated off their success on the field.
The athletes are being used to drive clicks, ratings, you name it, which ultimately drives revenue. As long as they’re aware of that, they’re free to make their own decision about what they’re involved.
ESPN gave no timetable for its full investigation into Parker’s comments, but one can assume (hope?) this means they’re going to re-examine the format and tone of the show, given the disastrous year it has had, ratings be damned.