Browns running back Nick Chubb suffered a gruesome injury in Cleveland’s loss to Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football, and ESPN chose not to air the replay of the knee injury on its broadcast. Former ESPN host Dan Patrick weighed in on his radio show Tuesday, arguing the Worldwide Leader had a responsibility to show viewers the play, saying “You owe it to the audience.”
Announcer Joe Buck relayed that the footage was “not to be seen,” but Patrick made the case that it’s the right thing to do journalistically to show it despite how gruesome it may be.
“You have to show it again to at least put it in context of what happened there,” Patrick said. “I would have done it. I would have done it once. Because you’re carrying the game. You owe it to the audience. And you could do a disclaimer.”
"I would've shown it once because you're carrying the game and I think you owe it to the audience, and you give a disclaimer. I might be in the minority here, but if I was running the show I would say let's show it once."
-DP on ABC not showing a replay of Chubb's injury pic.twitter.com/rHhUjJuHuS
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) September 19, 2023
Patrick and his crew then riffed through examples of how other broadcasts handled nasty injuries. They settled on Gordon Hayward fracturing his ankle in his Boston Celtics debut. In that case, the producers decided to show the replay from an aerial view to give context without airing a close-up of the break.
That way, viewers get a sense of whether the play was routine or a cheap shot. Should there have been a personal foul called? How extensive will his recovery be?
“Don’t do a slow motion, don’t do a spot-shadow, don’t do any diagramming, just ‘here is the injury from another angle here,'” Patrick argued.
The conversation puts into clearer perspective what viewers gain from seeing something so painful. Many online praised ESPN for keeping the replay off-air, indicating there are videos online to see the injury for those who want to seek it out.
But it’s fair to argue ESPN owes it to viewers to tell the full story. Chubb suffered a similar injury years ago. If this one was similar, that matters. If it was different, that matters.
By not showing the footage, ESPN leaves it up to Cleveland’s PR team to tell the story and give a prognosis.
More broadcasts could treat its viewers like adults. It’s not black and white. Explain to football fans why the replay is touchy. Then let them make their own decision.