Every so often we’re reminded that ESPN’s Adam Schefter and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport are really just better off sticking to breaking news.
The NFL insiders both have very thorny histories with inappropriate tweets and commentary that step outside the bounds of what a journalist might be expected to stay within. Normally, we’re chastising Shefter, who has built up a reputation for tone-deaf declarations, a stunning lack of sensitivity about important issues, and creating conflicts of interest.
Rapoport has his fair share of questionable choices as well. For instance, his framing of Pat Fitzgerald’s firing at Northwestern over hazing allegations earlier this year garnered a lot of flak.
On Sunday morning, Rapoport overstepped again with his X post regarding USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams. After LA Times reporter Ryan Kartje posted that Williams “elected not to speak to the media” following Saturday’s loss to UCLA, the NFL insider took a pretty clear shot at the college star.
Joe Burrow learned his season was over on Friday, understood his responsibility, and went out and held a news conference. The job of a QB and face of the franchise. https://t.co/Xh0S6LpfUT
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 19, 2023
“Joe Burrow learned his season was over on Friday, understood his responsibility, and went out and held a news conference. The job of a QB and face of the franchise” wrote Rapoport.
That’s a perfectly fine opinion for a football fan or Stephen A. Smith to offer. But given Rapoport is supposed to be a journalist, and one who covers football players specifically, that’s just a tad over the line.
Since Rapoport’s whole business is based on relationships with the people he covers, it seems pretty stupid to take a shot at a guy who will almost certainly be one of the top draft picks next year. Using Burrow as his example is also the kind of public butt-kissing that’s unbecoming of an impartial reporter. Not to mention that Burrow is a highly paid professional while Williams is still a college student, making the comparison suspect at best.
Given his job and the specific role that Rapoport serves for NFL Network, it’s also always worth considering why he would choose to present any personal opinion, and whether or not it’s actually a stand-in for someone else’s opinion.
All of that said, we’ve known for a while now that those who have mastered the “insider” role commonly set aside these kinds of ethical quandaries, be it in the name of selling one side’s story or hawking products as a pitchman. The same rules that apply to most sports reporters don’t seem to apply to them.
Nothing will come out of it, most likely. But the post left a bad taste in a lot of peoples’ mouths given Rapoport’s position and the unnecessary messaging about a guy that he’ll be covering in the years ahead.
we don’t have to do this. https://t.co/Pfxcxxl2kJ
— Mike Golic Jr (@mikegolicjr) November 19, 2023
He’s not even employed by the franchise.
— Rex Chapman?? (@RexChapman) November 19, 2023
well when your media responsibilities are negotiated collectively with the union you are allowed to be in so you can receive the paycheck you're allowed to earn things are a little different https://t.co/MKUiHNUplu
— Natalie Weiner (@natalieweiner) November 19, 2023
This is such a weird tweet.
No reasonable person cares that a student athlete pissed after his last game didn’t want to regurgitate a bunch of coach speak at a podium for like 5 minutes postgame. Who does that help? It’s not his job. He’s not required. No one cares. https://t.co/VbgJsPHOuE
— Carter Donnick (@CDonnick1) November 19, 2023
Drake Maye's agent in his bag this morning https://t.co/e1Uy8HUcdp
— Kyle Dvorchak (@kyletweetshere) November 19, 2023
Caleb Williams isn’t getting paid to speak to the media wtf is this. https://t.co/kK2F5c4vQj
— Pranav Sriraman (@PranavSriraman) November 19, 2023
Rapoport really thought he cooked with this tweet. Comparing a college athlete with a professional athlete in year 4 who just signed the biggest contract in football?
What team paid you to say this? Patriots trying to dissuade everyone from trading above them ? https://t.co/D7E0U2HG40
— Chris Molina (@ChrisMo2413) November 20, 2023