A mini-controversy involving ESPN and its possible involvement in the latter moments of last night’s Monday Night Football game has steadily gained steam on the blogosphere since this morning.
The question: did the Worldwide Leader in Sports ask Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher and Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio to use timeouts in the final two minutes of a blowout in order to squeeze in more commercials?
The answer (according to them): they did not.
The trouble first began late last night, during Fisher’s postgame presser. When asked why he was still running the ball late in the game with a 20-3 lead, instead of merely kneeling on the ball and running out the clock, Fisher said:
“Jack [Del Rio] used his timeouts. My understanding is they needed network timeouts, and that’s why Jack used his timeouts. They came over and asked me to do it, but I said, ‘I was hoping to get a first down and kneel on it.'”
Whether Fisher was joking or not was unclear. Some thought he was. Some weren’t so sure. Regardless, people ran with it, and by mid-morning, many blogs were wondering aloud whether or not ESPN had attempted to tamper with a game, an obvious no-no.
Still, the whole thing seemed fishy. As PFT pointed out, there seemed to be something a little more going on under Jeff Fisher’s mustache.
So we asked ESPN about it. Here’s what we got, via email.
“ESPN did not directly or indirectly ask the coaches to take a timeout during the game.”
The final verdict? It seems as if Fisher’s “network timeouts” comment was just a joke with bad timing, and the ensuing loss in translation was enough to get the rumor mill rumoring. ESPN has sway – but even they don’t have enough sway to mess with the NFL.
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