We now have clarity about Julio Jones on a few fronts.
First and foremost, Jones is now a Titan after the Falcons traded him to Tennessee on Sunday. We also seem to have a bit of clarity of how that process played out behind the scenes. In Albert Breer’s MMQB, Breer takes readers behind the curtain with a look at how the Jones trade talks played out. Per Breer, the very public revelation that Jones was indeed on his way out of Atlanta was not meant for public consumption.
• When the trade request went in, the Falcons honored the ultra-private Jones’s desire to remain quiet about his bid to get out of town. That’s why, when Jones’s being on the block bubbled to the surface before the draft, that part of the story wasn’t out there.
• Along those lines, I have it on good authority that Jones had no clue that he was on national TV when he said to FS1’s Shannon Sharpe, “I’m outta there” two weeks ago, which led to his trade request becoming public.
This has been a hotly debated question in sports media circles since it happened. Our poll showed readers were pretty split on the matter.
Do you think Julio Jones was aware his call was part of the show?
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) May 24, 2021
Fox PR entirely ducked any inquiries. Shannon Sharpe, or someone on the FS1 social team, tweeted out the clip, seemingly at peace with the ethics of the call.
Julio Jones’ thoughts on the Falcons and Cowboys. pic.twitter.com/Y9tQDnw2dO
— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) May 24, 2021
Front Office Sports reported that the call had become “a strain on the billion-dollar relationship between Fox Sports and the NFL”. Many highlighted the potential illegality of the call, given that it originated in California, a state that requires two-party consent for recording a phone conversation.
With Jones now out of Atlanta, it will be interesting to see if this all fades away. Jones has to be quite happy with how this turned out, regardless if his confidence was betrayed by Sharpe. Fox absolutely loved how much the call was covered by other outlets and has refused to address the specifics of the call.
Perhaps the Falcons and the NFL feel the situation needs to be addressed. However, it seems unlikely much of that will spill out into public view, especially since all parties have been tight-lipped on the matter.
If Fox does avoid any substantive backlash from the league and the Falcons, it’s hard to see the network shying away from similar tactics and stunts going forward. For a network and show that struggles to make more noise than ESPN, the infamous call absolutely dominated the news two weeks ago. This seems like an instance where Fox decided it was easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission, and it seems like they were right.