Josina Anderson (L) and Ryan Clark. Josina Anderson (L) and Ryan Clark. (Anderson image from The Crew NYC on YouTube, Clark image from Awful Announcing on Twitter.)

The Russell Wilson situation in Denver has prompted a lot of discussion. The Broncos’ move to bench Wilson despite still being in playoff contention, which is at least partly over an injury clause that they reportedly tried to get Wilson to waive with a threat of a benching earlier this year, created outrage from many NFL analysts, including ESPN’s Ryan Clark and Dan Orlovsky. Clark in particular went in on Broncos’ head coach Sean Payton on Get Up Friday, saying Payton has “behaved as a thug”:

While Orlovsky and others have also offered strong criticism of Payton (and prompted some snippy responses from the Broncos’ coach), Clark’s “behaved as a thug” line has drawn particular attention. Early Saturday morning, some of that came from Clark’s former ESPN colleague Josina Anderson, who now works as a senior NFL insider for CBS and as a contributor to FS1’s Undisputed. But Anderson notably didn’t cite the source of the “thug” comment, prompting a response from Clark :

There’s a case for either tagging or not tagging Clark in that post. On the not tagging side, tagging a player or media personality in every thought offered on them feels like far too much. And it’s notable that Anderson didn’t tag Wilson or Payton here either. If she’d tagged them in a post that was praising Wilson and minimizing criticisms of Payton (and one that came after she tweeted about the Broncos’ push actually being for Wilson to defer his injury guarantee, not remove it) while not mentioning Clark’s name while criticizing his take, that would have definitely seemed like dodging criticism herself.

But it seems unfortunate for Anderson to not even mention Clark’s name here or link to the context of the “thug” comments. And it should be noted that Clark didn’t actually say Payton was a thug (the way Tyreek Hill did with Colin Cowherd this week), but that he “has behaved as a thug”; there’s a distinction there between a claim about someone’s character and a claim about their actions. That language certainly could be seen as “intentionally inflammatory,” but it would have seemed better for Anderson to at least provide a link to it somewhere so those coming across this from her tweet had more context than just “someone called Sean Payton a thug.”

Beyond that, there is also a case that Anderson should have tagged Clark. This isn’t a random person responding to Clark’s ESPN commentary; it’s a long-time former colleague of his. Anderson worked at ESPN from 2011-2020 on various NFL assignments, including Sunday NFL Countdown, while Clark has been there since 2015 and has also been focused on NFL work, including NFL LiveSportsCenterFirst Take, and now Monday Night Countdown. (He also hosts Inside The NFL on The CW.) And Anderson remains a notable NFL reporter and commentator.

Of course, none of that obligates Anderson to avoid criticizing Clark publicly. But it does seem a little odd that she’d offer criticism this harsh (“intentionally inflammatory”) without even mentioning his name, or without tagging him and giving him an opportunity to respond. And her prominence combined with the level of criticism here meant this take was definitely going to get back to Clark even without the tag. And Clark’s certainly indicating here that he’d prefer that tag in the future.

[Ryan Clark on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.