Tampa Bay Buccaneers backup running back Giovani Bernard attempted to bypass the media Sunday afternoon, and Fox Sports’ Shannon Sharpe has a major issue with how reporters handled the situation.
Bernard botched a fake punt on Sunday by fumbling the snap, jumpstarting Tampa’s free-fall as they blew a 17-point lead against the Cincinnati Bengals to notch their eighth loss of the season. Following the game, head coach Todd Bowles claimed Bernard was aware of the fake punt play call. That prompted reporters to make their way over to the backup running back in an effort to get his side of the story. Bernard, however, wasn’t interested in talking about the blunder.
“Oh, now you guys want to talk to me?” Bernard reportedly said as the media approached him, leading to a very awkward exchange. And according to Sharpe, reporters are to blame for that awkward exchange.
“What have you done for us to talk to you about all year?” Bucs reporter Greg Auman asked. Auman has since admitted he owes Bernard an apology for the slight.
Shannon Sharpe slams reporters for their exchange with Gio Bernard pic.twitter.com/a4mdXDk8kz
— Brandon Contes (@BrandonContes) December 20, 2022
“I believe everyone deserves a level of respect,” Sharpe continued. “I understand you guys have a job to do and I always tried to be very accommodating. I was never dismissive because I was on one side and you were on the other. I never looked at the relationship as contentious. But don’t come to me and talk about ‘what have you done?’ Because now I gotta get flip with you. Because you’re being disrespectful. What have you done? Considering I’m in this seat and you’re talking to me? Clearly, I’ve done a lot more.”
The entire conversation between Bernard and the reporters was messy, and neither side of the exchange did much to help the situation. Bernard should have known he was going to get asked about the botched punt. But when he was reluctant to answer, reporters shouldn’t have fanned the flame by insulting his body of work this season, albeit a body of work that spent a lot of time on IR.
“Go ask Tom Brady what happened to him,” Sharpe said. “‘Tom, what happened on those interceptions?’ I need them to come at him and attack him like they did Gio Bernard.”
“Attack” might be extreme. They came at Bernard to ask about the botched punt, just like they went to Tom Brady to ask about his turnovers. It was their brash response to Bernard’s initial hesitancy where things turned uncomfortable.