Thompson, 41, added that she assumed “no coach would get mad” if he misled viewers into thinking they were simply uttering tired stereotypes such as: “Hey, we need to stop hurting each other, we have to be better on the third down, we have to stop turning the ball over and get off the field better.
“Well, they’re not going to correct me on that,” she continued. “So I say, ‘Okay, I’ll just do a report.’ “
After her comments received significant backlash, Thompson released a statement on Friday saying she “chose inappropriate words to describe the situation.”
“When I was a sports broadcaster, I never lied about anything or acted unethically,” Thompson wrote. “In the absence of a coach who could provide me with information that could help prepare my report, I would use the information I learned and saw in the first half to create my report. For example, if a team was 0-for-7 on third down, this would certainly be an area they needed to improve in the second half. In these cases, I never attributed anything I said to the player or coach.
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Among the sports media members who responded to Thompson’s comments Thursday was Molly McGrath of ESPN and ABC, a college football journalist who he wrote in X, “Young reporters: It’s not normal or ethical. Coaches and players trust us with sensitive information, and if they find out you are dishonest and don’t take your role seriously, you will lose all trust and credibility.”
CBS reporter Tracy Wolfson he wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, “This is absolutely not okay, it is not the norm and it is upsetting on many levels. I take my job very seriously, I take responsibility for everything I say, I build trust in my coaches and I never make anything up. I know my fellow reporters are doing the same.”
What is the point of side reporting? My 6-minute speech that no one asked for.
I don’t expect people to listen to my whole story, but if you’re wondering why those who bust their asses as sideline reporters care so much about this story. Shout out to Tulane for doing nothing but lifting me up. pic.twitter.com/8VFsxAVVpc
— Maddy Hudak (@MaddyHudak_94) November 16, 2023
Kevin Z. Smith, a board member of the Society of Professional Journalists who helped shape the organization ethical codexstated of Thompson’s admission: “To engage in this journalism, brag about it and defend it as harmless is unacceptable, it’s just appallingly bad journalism.”
“SPJ’s code of ethics is about truth, harm, independence and accountability,” Smith added in an email Thursday evening. “He gets a C for destroying three ethical principles with his lie.”
Thompson previously discussed creating coach quotes in the January 2022 episode of “A.” podcast he co-hosts with former sideline reporter Erin Andrews.
Recalling the time she played in a 2008 game against the Detroit Lions that ended 16-0, Thompson said of then-head coach Rod Marinelli: “I thought, ‘Oh, coach, what changes are you going to make at halftime?’ And he said, “You have great perfume.” I thought, “Oh, [expletive], it won’t work. I’m not kidding, I made a report.
“I did that too,” Andrews replied at the time. “For the bus I didn’t want to throw under the bus because he was telling me inappropriate things!”
“You’re not going to say anything that would put them in a bad position,” Thompson said.
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“Thursday Night Football” representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thompson and whether she would use their platform to address the backlash. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post). As the more than hour-long pre-game show she hosted unfolded, Thompson never once mentioned the outcry sparked by her “Pardon My Take” remarks. She also did not address the topic during her postgame appearance following the Baltimore Ravens’ victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Laura Okmin, Thompson’s colleague at Fox Sports, maintained the argument that Thompson committed a serious ethical violation.
“The privilege of the sideline role is being the first person in the world to have the opportunity to ask the coaches what’s going on at any given moment” – Okmin, described by Fox Sports as the third-longest-serving sideline reporter in the NFL, he wrote Thursday afternoon at X. “I can’t tell you how much time it takes to build that trust. I am devastated by the text messages I receive asking if everything is OK. NO. Never.
Lindsay Rhodes, a former sideline reporter and host of NFL Network, responded to a question on X about what Thompson should do if a coach refuses to comment or doesn’t return to the field before the TV show gives her a report.
“He tells the producer, ‘he didn’t stop,’ and they don’t go to the sideline reporter for the latest information she doesn’t have.” – Rhodes he wrote. “OR, he tells the audience about it in his report. Or she observes things herself and reports them without misleading anyone into thinking it came from someone who wasn’t there.
Thompson wrote Friday that she has “nothing but respect for the sideline reporters and the tireless work they put in behind the scenes and on the field.”
“I am grateful and humbled to work with the best in the industry and call them some of my best friends.”