Over the years, Barstool Sports has often had some seeming internal drama spill over into the public square. The latest case there is with Taylor Lewan, the long-time NFL offensive tackle who, since 2019, has co-hosted Barstool’s Bussin’ With The Boys podcast with former teammate Will Compton. But while neither of those players is currently on a NFL roster, there’s been some debate about their retirement status. And with Lewan, that’s now spilled into public criticism on Twitter.
The 33-year-old Compton has been on the rosters of five NFL teams (four active rosters) since starting his career with Washington in 2013. He was last on an active roster with the Las Vegas Raiders in January 2022. Last fall, he stated that he planned to sign with the Atlanta Falcons’ practice squad, but the NFL blocked that thanks to his affiliation with Barstool Sportsbook. Then, last week, he officially announced his retirement.
Meanwhile, the 32-year-old Lewan played with the Tennessee Titans from 2014 through 2022. He made the Pro Bowl three straight seasons from 2016 to 2018. But he’s battled through injuries the past few years, including a 2020 ACL injury that has him now suing Dr. James Andrews over repair attempts. He suffered a knee injury in Week 2 last year that knocked him out for the season, and and was released by the Titans this February.
Before that release happened, Lewan said he knew that was coming, and said he was considering retirement. But he’s since said he’s still a free agent and still interested in playing. So that prompted quite the drama Sunday when Barstool’s The Pro Football Football Show posted a clip of him saying “I’m retired” on the show, only for Lewan to then say that was a joke and the team should have kept that part in the clip:
I’m not retired.
production team asked if they could use this clip. I told them yes as long as they keep me saying it’s a joke in the clip
Obviously they didn’t listen and got what they wanted. Congrats on getting numbers I guess. https://t.co/kr2DRwXWdW
— Taylor Lewan (@TaylorLewan77) September 10, 2023
The “Obviously they didn’t listen and got what they wanted. Congrats on getting numbers I guess” is definitely strong criticism. But yes, as noted above, this is far from the first time Barstool figures have aired some criticisms of each other or the company publicly. And there’s maybe even more appetite for that since founder Dave Portnoy bought the company back from Penn Entertainment (for $1, non-compete deals, and 50 percent of any future sale), with Portnoy saying “You want to publicly narc on someone, you do it on ****ing camera” while throwing out cards about HR reporting.
So this might all just be the latest development in “an episode of Succession mixed with Entourage.” But it is still unusual to see a company’s social team do something to antagonize one of their noted on-camera personalities this way. And it’s understandable why Lewan is upset. If he does still want to play, widely-spread posts about his “retirement” might hurt his chances there, and make teams wonder if he does actually want to come back.
[Taylor Lewan on Twitter]