NFL Threatening To Take Away Playoff Games From ESPN If They Continue To Do Negative Stories on Them

Image via Getty

Image via Getty

Over the past two years, the NFL has been a PR nightmare, with most of the controversy centered around the national anthem protests, the Colin Kaepernick situation, and Donald Trump going back and forth with the league and its players.

Over that time span, ESPN has done a number of stories that didn’t particularly paint the NFL in the best light, just like every other network did. But ESPN’s stance seems to have struck a cord with the NFL, and they could end up paying for it.

Sports Business Daily has the details:

“George Bodenheimer had only been on the job as ESPN’s acting chairman for a couple of weeks when he got word that Fox and the NFL would partner on the NFL draft, jointly producing a show that would directly compete against ESPN.

ESPN executives were angry. ESPN created the NFL draft as a TV show 38 years ago and popularized it to unprecedented heights over the years. It was one thing when the NFL Network started covering it. But when the NFL brought in a competitive broadcast network, it was seen as a slap in the face.

Soon after, Bodenheimer heard rumblings that the NFL was going to put ESPN’s wild card playoff game on Fox. The move, which still hasn’t been completed, potentially leaves ESPN with a $1.9 billion per year deal that features no NFL playoff games — a scenario that miffs several executives in Bristol.

NFL executives privately described the relationship as the worst they’ve ever seen. In particular, they pointed to stories on and “Outside the Lines” that they felt went out of their way to portray the NFL in a bad light.

Their complaints ranged from the number of times ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” covered the concussion issue to the number of stories from feature writers Don Van Natta and Seth Wickersham about Commissioner Roger Goodell’s salary, the league’s handling of the player protests, palace intrigue at the Patriots and the ongoing dispute between Goodell and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Plus, there were all the negative headlines surrounding the NFL this season that made their way onto “SportsCenter” or the home page of”

If ESPN all of a sudden starts to run good wholesome stories about the league, you know the reason why!

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