Originally published: October 20, 2010
Last updated: October 20, 2010 - 2:44pm
The National Football League is investigating allegations that coaches during Monday Night Football were asked to call timeouts so that ESPN could squeeze in some TV commercials.
The situation had NFL purists and fantasy football players outraged that the outcome of a game could be influenced by concerns related to TV broadcasting. In the situation Monday, the Jacksonville Jaguars were losing 23-3, and the Tennessee Titans had the ball with less than two minutes left. Quarterback Kerry Collins handed the ball to Chris Johnson, who scampered 35 yards for a touchdown that the Titans clearly did not need to win. During a postgame news conference, Titans coach Jeff Fisher was asked why he would risk injury to his star running back instead of having his quarterback simply kneel and chew up time on the clock.
Fisher insinuated that it was ESPN's fault. Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio called some timeouts for the benefit of the TV broadcast, so Fisher made decisions he might otherwise not have made, he said. "Jack used his timeouts, so it does me no good [to take a knee]," Fisher said. "Plus, you know, my understanding was that we needed some network timeouts, so I think that's why Jack used his timeouts ... because they came over and asked me to do it, and I said, 'Well, I was hoping to get a first down and kneel on it." Fisher also said "it's the first time" he has heard of coaches being asked to call timeouts for broadcast considerations, but that comment was not part of the video highlights of the news conference that the NFL made available.
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