More high-profile executives are leaving NFL Network, and a report ties that to the ongoing investigation of sexual harassment there. The latest two executives to leave are Michael Mandt, the executive producer of original content, and Dan Dieffenbach, the coordinating producer of features. Deadspin’s Laura Wagner writes that according to sources, their departures are related to that investigation:
Two NFL Network executives, Mike Mandt and Dan Dieffenbach, are out according to network spokesperson Alex Riethmiller, who declined any further comment. But sources tell Deadspin the pair’s exit is related to an internal investigation into reports of sexual harassment at the network, being overseen by the law firm Akin Gump.
Mandt was the executive producer of original content and Dieffenbach was the coordinating producer of features. According to sources, they were first put on extended administrative leave last month and their last day was Friday.
Mandt was hired in April 2016 after a long career in TV and movies, including developing ESPN’s Jim Rome Is Burning and SyFy’s Destination Truth and serving as a producer for Million Dollar Arm and a variety of sports programming. (He also created the controversial Fantasy Sports Girls segments for AOL FanHouse, and spoke to Awful Announcing about that back in 2015.) He was involved with several new initiatives at NFLN, from the hire of analytics expert Cynthia Frelund from ESPN to the Tackle My Ride show (players rewarding fans with car upgrades) to the televising of Madden competitions to documentaries like “The Conversation” that took a look at player protests.
Dieffenbach worked within Mandt’s Original Content Group and came up with some interesting projects there, such as last January’s faux “A Football Life” documentaries on fictional characters Rod Tidwell and Frank Cushman.
This adds to the turnover at NFL Network. David Eaton, the VP of NFL Media, resigned last month after Deadspin pointed out his history of interacting with porn actresses and escorts on Twitter, while Heath Evans, Marshall Faulk, and Ike Taylor are all still suspended pending that sexual harassment investigation. The lawsuit from former NFLN stylist Jami Cantor that led to those analysts’ suspensions also implicated Donovan McNabb and Eric Davis, who had since moved on to ESPN (that network parted ways with them earlier this month), and former NFL Network executive Eric Weinberger, an executive producer at the network who oversaw their studio programming before he left to run the Bill Simmons Media Group and The Ringer in November 2015 (he’s since been suspended from his role there).
And beyond Cantor’s lawsuit, others like Lindsey McCormick have made troubling allegations about behavior at the network, with hers centering around sexist comments during the hiring process.
It’s clear that there are going to be some big changes coming to NFL Network with all these executives leaving, and with this investigation into the sexual harassment allegations still ongoing and the likes of Faulk, Taylor and Evans still suspended. We’ll see where they go from here.