In the wake of a 2016-2017 NFL season that saw the league rife with social protests by players and plentiful political expressions from a variety of sports media representatives, the NFL Network has decided, for its part, that staff members will be sticking to sports, particularly when on their social media accounts.
According to Touchdown Wire, league executives (NFL Network is owned by the National Football League) are growing increasingly concerned at the political outspokenness of so many from the realm of professional sports media, and see the melding of politics and sports as something capable of resulting in nothing but trouble.
“Those debates are healthy in the middle of newsrooms and discussions face-to-face,” said Mike Muriano, NFL Network’s executive producer of studio and remote content. “But playfully or not, what happens in face-to-face conversations can be construed in ways that you don’t want on a public forum like Twitter — especially when it comes to politics.”
It is no secret that ESPN has been plagued with financial troubles many blame, at least partly, on the network’s insistence to tout an obviously leftist narrative within its “sports” reporting. The network has seen subscribers bail on it in large numbers, and while a big part of ESPN’s downfall is clearly related to increased cord-cutting behavior on the part of television consumers, few disagree with the notion that overt political expressions by on-air talent there have hurt, as well.
Unsurprisingly, NFL Network wants none of that.
“When in doubt, keep it to the game,” said NFL’s vice president of social media and emerging programming, Tom Brady (not that Tom Brady). “There’s always a time to showcase your personality and be able to engage with fans and go outside of your core. But at the end of the day, as a member of the NFL Media Group, try to stick to football because that’s what people want to hear from you about.”
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large