The Brawl Network.

The Brawl Network is a collection of team blogs, podcasts and so on, and one which emphasizes fan perspective. Their About Us page says “The Brawl Network is founded on the principles of bringing your favorite teams news and opinions in an unfiltered, educated and entertaining facet. Many are tired of the main stream media’s bias, filtered, reiterative news. …The Brawl Network has Changed the game by reporting the same news as the main stream media, but with passion, in-depth knowledge of the actual team and in an entertaining way” [sic]. But the network has lost a lot of talent over the past week, and many of those who have left have referenced grievances with founder Mike Brez. One of the first public exits came from Nate Sanchez, who posted a DM thread of Brez axing him (with lines like “I am the alpha and omega of the Brawl!”), and then said that came after Brez complained about a generic tweet he sent criticizing vaccine hot takes:

For the record, written social media comments would fall under libel, not slander. But Sanchez’s tweet is clearly not defamatory. It is possible to see how Brez might think that was about him, though, given that Sanchez also liked tweets criticizing Brez’s takes on COVID-19 vaccines:

Anyway, this led to other people criticizing Brez, including one posting a DM thread where Brez didn’t like the price he quoted for an intro and fired him:

And that led to a wave of other people and podcasts disassociating themselves from the network, although many of those didn’t spotlight specific issues:

That last one turned into quite a Twitter spat between that podcast and Brez over who owned the podcast Twitter account:

Who owns a Twitter account dedicated to one outlet’s coverage of a team is a legitimate point of contention, and one that usually depends on whatever contributor agreements or employee agreements are signed between the parties. And we’ve seen that lead to some acrimony and even litigation before, as in the case of The Roanoake Times and Virginia Tech writer Andy Bitter (that led to both sides eventually dropping their claims). So there may be some merit to Brez’s point here, especially if it was clear in agreements that the accounts belonged to him or Brawl rather than individuals. But this is still quite an unusually high-profile way to have that dispute play out.

After that dispute, some further heat entered the situation with Colts’ writer Michael Terrazas tweeting that Brez called him and said “I will own your Mexican ass.” Brez has disputed that, calling it “a complete lie,” and accused Terrazas of slander (again, it would be libel), and endeavored to prove his point with screenshots of four different phone accounts that don’t have an outgoing call to the number he cited for Terrazas. Terrazas responded with a screenshot of a call log showing an 11-minute call from someone in his phone as “Mike Brez,” but without an associated number.

Following that dispute, a lot of people went digging through Brez’s old tweets. And that led to a lot of posted screenshots of past remarks using racist homophobic, antiSemitic and antitrans language from Brez’s Twitter account:

In replies to people criticizing some of those tweets, Brez said he inserted the n-word to…criticize Ted Cruz:

He also tried to defend some of those other tweets with “I have no racist tweets” and “take a look at the threads.”

After the discussion about Brez’s tweets, we found a dozen tweets of people publicly announcing their departure, with that list continuing to grow.. Here are a few of those departure tweets:

It is clear that a lot of people have left Brawl in the last week-plus, and that many of them have cited Brez’s behavior and his past tweets as a reason why. We asked Brez for comment on the departures, but have yet to hear back. The company’s Twitter account has yet to put out any statement on the departures as well. It remains to be seen if there will be  any long-term implications for the network from the exodus of contributions.

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.