The whole world knows that ESPN looked silly yesterday when reporter Josina Anderson issued details on the shower choreography of the St. Louis Rams, a team whose roster the openly gay defensive lineman Michael Sam is trying to make. Not only did Twitter users and media critics skewer the reporting, but ESPN also found something to criticize:
“ESPN regrets the manner in which we presented our report. Clearly yesterday we collectively failed to meet the standards we have set in reporting on LGBT-related topics in sports.”
That came after a less regretful statement saying this:
“In response to recent questions about Sam fitting in with the team, a Rams player brought up the shower topic and we relayed that information as part of our reporting.”
Yet in comments about the ridiculousness, St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher went beyond the locker-room showers. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he said the following:
“We have a media policy, and we’re very flexible,” Fisher said. “We have open practices. Players are available. We have open locker rooms.
“Obviously she came in, in all likelihood to see if there was gonna be a roster move at the 75 cutdown as it relates to Mike Sam. That didn’t happen. But she needed to do something, and it’s my understanding that she manufactured this story.
“She was out of line because she went and contacted several players on their personal time. Misled them with questions and then put this piece together.”
What a melange of slanderous and flattering allegations. The slanderous: That Anderson “misled” players and “manufactured” a story. Anyone wishing to toss such claims about has a responsibility to produce hard evidence — or retract them forthwith. The flattering: That Anderson contacted players “on their personal time.” That’s called doing your job. NFL coaches are by nature control freaks who are commonly annoyed by a free and aggressive press.
ESPN chose not to combat the Fisher allegations point-by-point: “Josina Anderson is a trusted professional and a valued member of our team. What took place yesterday was a collective failure to meet our standards and we will all be better going forward,” reads an e-mail to the Post-Dispatch from ESPN senior vice president Rob King.