In the wake of the Andrew Luck retirement saga, plenty of very bad sports media takes surfaced, which inspired some blowback not only from viewers but in some cases from colleagues. Trey Wingo and Dan Dakich, for example, had to make nice on a phone call.
Perhaps the best tweet of the entire ordeal came from a very surprising source: Fox NFL analyst Troy Aikman, who isn’t really a heavy Twitter user at all. But that didn’t stop him from calling out Doug Gottlieb in highly effective fashion:
That’s total bullshit Doug. What qualifies you to decide how someone should live their life? So you’re now the authority on what motivates Andrew Luck? And if his decisions don’t fit into what you think is best for him then you rip him? Guess that keeps you employed on FS1. Nice https://t.co/p59DsmPoER
— Troy Aikman (@TroyAikman) August 26, 2019
Aikman addressed the tweet and the fallout at Fox afterwards on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with Jimmy Traina.
New SI MEDIA PODCAST w Troy Aikman. Topics: NFL’s officiating problem, working 2 games a week for FOX, that Doug Gottlieb tweet and much more.
— Jimmy Traina (@JimmyTraina) September 18, 2019
Here’s Aikman on the tweet itself, why he felt compelled to send it, and how he didn’t really mean for it to be personal:
“I received a couple phone calls, yes, from some of my bosses. I’m not real active on Twitter, I was out of town in my hotel room, and I was bored. I thought I’ll get on here and see what’s happening on Twitter. I had some replies, and usually I only get those when people are screaming about my broadcasting, but I hadn’t called a game in a while, so I’m like I don’t know what’s going on! What happened was Doug had sent out his tweet and some people had copied me on it when they were replying, they were saying all the pain I’d dealt with in my career and I’d hung in there. So I’m thinking, well, what was said? I went and saw what Doug had said, and it just really struck a nerve with me, for several reasons.
But I know Andrew Luck, I’ve covered him, the guy loves the game of football, he’s a terrific guy. I know a year ago when I talked to him before one of our games, when he’d missed the season the year before because of injury, and he said he just found himself in a really bad place, and he didn’t like himself, he didn’t like who he was becoming during that year he was away from football and trying to rehab his shoulder. Knowing that, seeing his retirement press conference which I thought he did a terrific job on, especially because he wasn’t even supposed to give that press conference until the next day, I thought he handled it beautifully. I was disappointed that Andrew retired, but only because it’s someone as talented as he is, I’m disappointed I don’t get to watch him play anymore. Beyond that, if he doesn’t want to play football, don’t play! Go live your life the way you want to live it.
I felt that Doug’s comments were out of line. I didn’t intend for it to be personal with Doug, I know Doug, I’ve been on his show several times. I like the guy, I just don’t think the opinion on what Andrew was dealing with was really reflected the way it should have been.”
Traina then asked Aikman about the fallout from the higher-ups at Fox, suggesting (reasonably, given Aikman’s role and stature) that he might be “untouchable” in terms of punishment.
“Well I’m still working! (laughs) When you say that much trouble I don’t know exactly what that means. I don’t know about untouchable. I will say that over the years I just try to be honest, and I don’t go looking to jump into the fray by any means. But if I have an opinion on something and I feel strongly on something then I’ll say it, and whatever the consequences are they are. I have great bosses.
And I will tell you they were great in how they handled it, not because they handled it the way I wanted them to handle it, I think they were very direct with me and honest, and I’ve always respected those kinds of people. They respected the fact that I was honest, they did not like that I would say something about the company. i understand that, and I appreciate the way they discussed it with me.
The tweet’s still up, I don’t know how many people go back, I can’t imagine anybody’s read it since. I don’t know how those things work! I’m not all that well-versed in social media.”
Traina also asked if Aikman considered the ramifications of criticizing someone under the Fox Sports umbrella, or if he just spoke his mind.
“I just saw the tweet and responded. I responded how I responded, I responded honestly and it was how I felt.”
The tweet was in part so effective because Aikman is not in any way a hot take artist. He was also the perfect person to deliver the opinion; fewer people are better-suited to comment on the toll football takes on a quarterback than Aikman, who thinks he suffered 6-8 concussions during his career on top of plenty of other injuries. It was a great opinion, crafted expertly, coming from an unassailable source.
Hopefully the blowback from Fox wasn’t severe enough to keep him from doing it again in the future, should it be necessary.