NFL Network’s Heath Evans: ‘I Don’t Work For Roger Goodell’
Heath Evans is a former NFL fullback who is now an analyst for the NFL Network. He also happens to realize that it is not his job to tip toe around the feelings of Roger Goodell when being asked for his professional opinion regarding the league he played in for nine years. He delivered some absolutely epic commentary to that effect on Tuesday afternoon while joining Damon Amendolara of CBS Sports Radio.
Evans, a member of the Patriots from 2005-2008 who remains friends with Tom Brady, was naturally asked for his thoughts regarding the DeflateGate saga. He explained that he is unsurprisingly skeptical of Goodell's true intentions and the way he has handled the investigation.
“I’m going to be honest with you, for all your listeners, yeah, I played for Bill (Belichick) for four years and with Tommy for four years" Evans began. "And it’s impossible to remove a family-atmosphere bias, so let me just get that out there...When the Wells Report was released, I read probably about a third of it . . . and I’m thinking, ‘Man, this seems very one-sided and there just seems so much left out of it.’ Then I go back and read the whole stinking thing and I start formulating opinions about things that have been left out.”
He then explains that he also texted Brady directly.
“Tommy was like, ‘You know me well enough to know I’m not cheating this game,’” Evans said. “...I think people that are willing to read now and really start tracking everything that’s been released...you’re starting to see a completely different side of more or less a witch hunt, and maybe a few guys in the league office that had some ill will directed toward the Patriots and leaked out false reports and started a landslide that was just lies and propaganda."
Evans, who as a reminder is an employee of the NFL Network, goes on to clarify that he believes this has been an unsubstantial investigation from the beginning.
“If people really want to sit there and look through all the evidence . . . and look at the facts – not bullet-point broadcasting that the NFL Network and ESPN and FOX and other sources have done, but look at the facts – I’ve stood by the fact that Tom Brady is going to eventually walk away with no suspension. His name probably won’t ever be looked at the way it should because people are always just going to remember the bold headlines, but there’s no substance to this whatsoever.”
This dude straight up called out his own network! Whether he's being a homer or not is besides the point. Finally a former player with credibility and sources is unafraid to admit that he owes the teams and the fans the benefit of his true knowledge and opinions, and that he is under no obligation to adhere to a script that will favor the commissioner or the league offices. He goes on to make the best quote of the interview and in my opinion, the best quote by an NFL analyst in a long time.
“People say, ‘Heath, you work for the NFL, you better watch it,’” said Evans. “No, I work for Jerry Jones, and I work for Daniel Snyder and I work for the Rooney family and I work for Robert Kraft and I work for Tom Benson. I don’t work for Roger Goodell and that league office. The owners own the network. If this was being done to the Green Bay Packers, I would have gotten around to saying all the same things I’ve said. If it was done to the Oakland Raiders, I’d be defending Jack Del Rio. It has nothing to do with loyalties. I challenge people to go read what’s out there and formulate your own opinion.”
It's so refreshing to hear someone actually say that because he is 110 percent right. The NFL Network is riddled with people who are terrified to rock the boat with Roger Goodell, others in the league offices or even with an individual owner. They fail to assert their opportunity to speak for the whole, and often feel as though they have to function as an extension of the NFL's public relations department.
Football fans should be able to turn on the NFL network for information and clarity and opinion and debate. Yet when informed reporters and analysts operate under the belief that there will be repercussions from their dictator commish for saying what they actually know or believe, it dilutes the product and does a disservice to everyone that tunes in.
Even if you disagree with Evans' stance regarding the NFL's guilt and the Patriots' innocence, you at least know you are getting the unfiltered opinion of a former player who has honed that viewpoint based on sources and knowledge of the situation and conversations with those involved. He's giving you the benefit of hearing the same thing he says in the green room and production meetings, rather than curating some politically correct re-phrasing of his opinion in order to stay in the commissioner's good graces. That's what we all want from analysts who are former athletes; a glimpse into what they know and believe after having been a part of it.
“I got my job by being factually correct, bold and opinionated,” Evans went on to say. “... I stand by what I say...This is going to get messy real, real quick. Roger Goodell already said that it wasn’t an independent (report). Jeff Pash, who is the attorney for the NFL, edited his report before he it was released. How independent is that? That’s the stuff people don’t want to read because they just want to say, ‘Hey, we want the Patriots to be cheaters’ because they can’t wrap their minds around for the last 15 years, they’re just better than everybody. That’s just the truth. People love to hate on the best. I’m a Saints fan, I’m a Seahawks fan – I’m loyal to those teams as well. But the truth is the truth.”
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