When it comes to employees of NFL Network potentially defaming alleged whistleblowers, the powers-that-be remind them that they are analysts, not reporters.
But when analysts have personal relationships that positions them to be reporters on matters that create no potential liability, the NFL apparently applies a different standard: Go for it.
Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, who played in Oakland with cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Charles Woodson, “reports” that the 49ers are in “serious discussions” with both men. And since those comments can’t get the league sued, they are being trumpeted by NFL Media.
Players-turned-analysts often are in position to obtain important information from players who are still playing. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. Sometimes, that’s a bad thing.
The problem comes from the fact that the NFL applied a very broad standard to Warren Sapp and his “Jeremy Shockey is the bounty snitch” report. He was reminded that he’s an analyst, not a reporter. But that broad, bright-line rule necessarily is being violated by Gbaja-Biamila.
And there’s nothing like inconsistent workplace rules to create headaches for H.R. and legal and confusion among coworkers, at least one of whom may now be whispering into a hot mic about the “f–king you’re-an-analyst-not-a-reporter f–king angle.”
The better approach would be to have the analysts funnel any potential news they may have to management, and then to let management to decide which reporter will be given the lead.
Regardless, there’s no reason to doubt the accuracy of the report, which means that the 49ers are closing in on yet another escalation of the NFC West arms race with Seattle.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals could soon be petitioning the league for a return to the NFC East.