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Following two weeks of controversy, Deadspin is reversing course.

On Friday, the online publication updated a story it published on Nov. 27 accusing a young fan who was shown at a Kansas City Chiefs game of wearing blackface. The story — originally titled “The NFL needs to speak out against the Kansas City Chiefs fan in Black face, Native headdress” — drew the ire of many and became a regular right-wing talking point as the fan in question only had half of his face painted black, with the other half painted red, in addition to wearing a headdress.

In updating the story written by Carron J. Phillips, Deadspin changed the headline to “The NFL Must Ban Native Headdress And Culturally Insensitive Face Paint in the Stands (UPDATED)” and replaced the photo, which had only shown the black side of the fan’ painted face, with a picture of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The updated story also now includes the following editor’s note:

Editor’s Note: On Nov. 27, Deadspin published an opinion piece criticizing the NFL for allowing a young fan to attend the Kansas City Chiefs game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Nov. 26 wearing a traditional Native American headdress and, based upon the available photo, what appeared to be black face paint.

Unfortunately the article drew attention to the fan, though our intended focus was on the NFL and its checkered history on race, an issue which our writer has covered extensively for Deadspin. Three years ago, the Chiefs banned fans from wearing headdresses in Arrowhead Stadium, as well as face painting that “appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions.” The story’s intended focus was the NFL and its failure to extend those rules to the entire league.

We regret any suggestion that we were attacking the fan. To that end, our story was updated on Dec. 7 to remove any photos, tweets, links, or otherwise identifying information about the fan. We have also revised the headline to better reflect the substance of the story.

Considering that there have been calls for the fan’s family to sue the outlet, this likely wasn’t a decision that was taken likely, and presumably included input from Deadspin’s own legal team.

As for Phillips, the author of the story has since gone private on X (formerly Twitter). He has, however, been regularly publishing content on Deadspin, including a story on Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts on Thursday.


About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.