Earlier this week, NFL Insider Albert Breer blasted the league for media layoffs after cashing a $110 million check from Peacock to stream a single playoff game.
Now, former NFL QB and ESPN analyst Robert Griffin III is joining the chorus.
On a recent edition of the podcast “Front Office Sports Today,” Griffin, who’s worked at ESPN since August 2021, said it’s disheartening to see the NFL laying off dedicated media people with annual revenue creeping towards $20 billion.
“I want to say, first and foremost, I’m praying for all of those people and want them to land on their feet, because none of us want that to be happening,” he said. “But it’s also difficult when you see the NFL broker a deal like the one with Peacock, where they’re making $110 million for one playoff game, and then saying, ‘We can’t pay the media to continue to support their families. We have to cut back on the amount of people being paid in those regards,’ when there are countless amounts of money that’s being made. It’s tough, it’s really tough.”
While it’s important to note that shares of TV revenue go to NFL teams—and not the league’s media arm—the layoffs at NFL Network are still a horrible look. As Breer mentioned, NFL owners are showing what they’re all about: greed.
That the NFL conducted layoffs due to the economic "realities" of 2023 while pulling down $110 million to give a single playoff game to a streaming service is … a pretty good indicator on who the owners are.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 15, 2023
That’s not exactly breaking news. But still, it’s notable that multiple media figures closely aligned with the NFL are calling out the league for laying off their peers. NFL Media cut about five percent of its full-time employees in Los Angeles earlier this month, due to apparent “economic and industry-wide shifts.”
Three prominent figures, reporters Jim Trotter and Mike Giardi and on-air talent Rachel Bonnetta, have also left NFL Network in recent months. Trotter’s contract curiously wasn’t renewed after he publicly asked commissioner Roger Goodell about the lack of diversity among NFL Media leadership.
Griffin, 33, said he originally wasn’t interested in broadcasting, because he thought the media treated him unfairly as a player. But after years of haggling from his agent, he agreed to an ESPN audition.
That’s when Griffin says he realized he could go about his work differently, and foster change.
“I realized this was a real opportunity for me to make an impact in a way that would be very reflective of how my career went, as in, ‘Hey, I didn’t love how I was mischaracterized, so I make sure I don’t mischaracterize people,'” he said. “I didn’t love how some of the stories told about me became personal. So I make sure the stories I tell about these players aren’t personal.”
Griffin is a nascent media star, regaling younger football fans with his pizzazz and knack for double entendres. With an apparent knack for speaking freely, his star should only continue to rise.