ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky kicked off a firestorm last week when he appeared on The PatMcAfee Show and shared thoughts he had heard from anonymous NFL sources regarding quarterback Justin Fields.
“One, I have heard that he is a last-guy-in, first-guy-out type of quarterback. Like, not the maniacal work ethic. I’ve even heard it compared to Justin Herbert, where it was like, dude, when Justin Herbert showed up, he was like a psychopath when it came to working and get ready for the draft. Or even at school, like, “Give me more, I want to work non-stop.” And I’ve heard that there are issues with Justin Fields’ work ethic.
The second thing is … Where is his desire to go be a great quarterback? I think that there’s a desire to be a big-time athlete, from what is expressed to me, but where is his desire to be a great quarterback? And to be great, you gotta be willing to find the things that you are not good at and just freaking grind on them.”
The comments fed into a long-standing narrative that exists around Black quarterbacks and their ability to compete in the NFL.
Right on cue. Anonymous quotes slandering the Black QB using the same playbook. How predictable https://t.co/KvLbFDjuyT
— Evan Barnes〽️ (@evan_b) March 31, 2021
Along with opening old old (and all-too-predictable) woulds, the comments also didn’t sit well with the people who would already know whether or not Fields did, in fact, have a bad work ethic: Ohio State insiders.
Our own Ben Koo, an Ohio State alum, shared his insight in the initial post, refuting these quotes and ideas about the team’s star QB this past season.
There have been literally zero whispers about Fields and work ethic and lack of wanting to be great inside the Ohio State community. I say this as an OSU fan plugged in with a lot of the Ohio State writers who often gossip to themselves about things they wouldn’t or cannot publish but know with absolute certainty. For instance knowing what players would be out for Covid was regularly known this past season well in advance of when the school announced it on gameday. Likewise in a pre-pandemic world, OSU writers would regularly be happy to tell you all of the off-the-field chatter about the team if you picked up a round of drinks at a bar.
Another Ohio State alum who decided to chime in with a response to Orlovsky was Kirk Herbstreit, his ESPN coworker. Despite the corporate affiliation, the former Ohio State quarterback didn’t mince words defending the other Ohio State quarterback.
Even if YOU aren’t saying it…
to pass that along from “people in the know” is reckless and absurd!! Embarrassing!! https://t.co/r0RFSr1B6y
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) April 1, 2021
Debate shows aside, ESPN certainly doesn’t want to see it’s reporters and media personalities publicly fueding. And so, per the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, the company has spoken with both Orlovsky and Herbstreit in private. Per Jackson, neither of them will face any disciplinary action, but “management has addressed the issue with both men.”
We’re guessing cooler heads will prevail here for now and Orlovsky seems to have learned some valuable reporting lessons over the entire ordeal (even if his response didn’t include much of an apology). But let it be known that if you’re going to come for an Ohio State player with anonymous sources and retrograde analysis, you’re gonna hear about it, whether it’s Herbstreit or otherwise.
Also, you have to wonder how this entire controversy will impact ESPN rethinking their (recently revised) policy of letting reporters and personalities appear on McAfee’s show.