NFL requested that Carter “fall guy” comment be kept off the record

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NFL executives immediately recognized that Cris Carter had stepped in it when he urged players at the 2014 rookie symposium to have a “fall guy” take the blame for legal trouble. So the league requested that the only reporter present keep Carter’s comments out of his story.

That reporter, Robert Klemko of, got what he describes as “near-unfettered access to the rookie orientation event.” But in return for that access, he agreed to allow the league to make some elements of the symposium off the record, retroactively.

That’s unusual in journalism. Usually, when a source and a reporter agree to go off the record, they make that agreement in advance, and a source can’t make a statement off the record after the fact. But Klemko explained today that he felt it was a concession worth making.

“I only agree to these omissions when the subject matter is immaterial to what I gather is the larger point of the story, which, in the case of the symposium, I believed Carter’s comment was,” Klemko wrote today.

Klemko says Kim Fields, who serves in player engagement as the league’s vice president of strategic development and operations, immediately bristled at the Carter “fall guy” comments.

“Fields looked my way and said, ‘that can’t go in the story,'” Klemko wrote. “I was torn. I take pride in reporting every detail, even at the risk of damaging relationships.”

But ultimately, Klemko agreed to the NFL’s request.

“I loved the Carter quote for how outlandish and idiotic it was, but I didn’t see it as emblematic of the symposium,” Klemko wrote. “Maybe it was a mistake not to run it, but I had made an agreement which boiled down to this: Tell 95% of an untold story, or none of it. I chose 95% because I wanted to take readers someplace they’d never been, and I wanted to continue getting access to these sorts of events.”

Today, Klemko decided to tell the rest of the story, whether the NFL likes it or not.

It’s bizarre that the NFL was so adamant that Klemko couldn’t include Carter’s comments in his story, and then ended up publishing the video of Carter’s presentation. But it shows that sometimes in the NFL, the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing. As one league employee was trying to keep Carter’s comments from becoming public, another league employee was putting Carter’s comments on

109 responses to “NFL requested that Carter “fall guy” comment be kept off the record

  1. What’s even more interesting is that the league KNEW there might be things said that they didn’t want out there, as required the ability to “take things off the record” after the fact. Makes you wonder what other things have been said there, and by their nature sanctioned by the league, in the past…

  2. ​if carter didn’t have a holier than though attitude and tell everyone he is in the HOF every 5 seconds all the time it wouldnt bother me that much​

  3. This whole Carter episode is the perfect example of the incompetency of the league office. 90% of the league office employees falls into 3 categories. Affirmative action, nepotism, or ivy league. All three of these groups have one thing in common: They think they are entitled to everything , and do virtually nothing in return. They think that because a previous generation paved the way for them, they are entitled to the same greatness.
    The majority of league office employees live in the past, and are the kind of person that received “participation medals” for showing up to school. They live of their daddy’s accolades. If I were to google Kim Fieds, NFL, would she be in one of these categories? I’m not going to find out.
    They schedule unnecessary meeting, use 500 words instead of 50, and put together useless presentations. Then they pat each other on the back and figure out a new way to reward themselves.
    This is why the NFL will fail. They operate w/out competition and if they ever had it, their policies would be crushed by anyone w/common sense.

  4. Fools running the NFL-right into the ground. I don’t know how the incompetence, ignorance, and outright dishonesty continues to not only go unchecked, but is actually allowed to flourish. It seems the owners don’t mind having jackals and buffoons running the show.

  5. By railroading Brady the hypocrite Goodell has exposed the NFL. Now, every time we read a story like this it has a frame of reference back to the commissioner who suspended a star player despite “no direct evidence”, used a phony “generally aware” definition, of a violation that was “more probable than not”.

  6. Instead of saying “don’t do things that will get you in trouble”, Cris Carter is teaching these young kids “it’s OK to get in trouble, just make sure you find someone else to take the blame”.

    Most of these players come from an environment where personal responsibility is held in contempt anyway. Now Carter (an NFL legend) is just reinforcing that. Pathetic.

    Cris Carter: great player, utter fool of a human being.

  7. Is there any doubt left that Roger Goodell is an empty suit? The owners need to boot this incompetent, and all his minions as well.

  8. So the NFL basically strong-armed this reporter to prevent one of their in-the-public-eye HOFers from revealing just how completely disingenuous the league actually is.

    I have lost so much respect for the league it really makes me question why I should support it.

    The NFL is ruining the game.

  9. So what will it take for the owners to realize that Goodell is slowly but consistently ruining their brand? Fans pour millions of dollars a year into the NFL and it’s not because of the owners or Goodell. The owners need to realize they don’t need Goodell, he is a cancer to them now. This is a money making league that could run itself, cut bait now.

  10. My question for Roger Goodell: How do you decide which story to cover up and which story to air and how does integrity factor into the equation?

  11. Protecting the shield means covering up for Goodell, Pash, Pash again…and again…, Vincent, Gardi, Kensil and who knows how many others. Incompetence covered by corruption.

    “The right thing to do…sometimes it’s hard to know what that is”.

  12. How ironic that Kim Fields told Klemko the line by Carter can’t be in the story.

    After McNally, Jastremski and Brady adamantly denied doing anything with the footballs Pash told Wells, “That can’t be in the Report.”

  13. Cris, were you generally aware you made those comments? Enjoy the show folks, it is only going to get brighter.

  14. The NFL – where deflating balls is a huge scandal, but advising rookies to go ahead and do anything illegal you want as long as you have a fall guy in your crew is ok.

    Even the people who hate the Pats have to see that this is incredibly twisted and disgusting.

  15. Remember kids, Shady Brady advocates having two fall guys, not just one.

    And it’s important to pretend you don’t know one of the guys names when questioned under oath. Oh, and then pretend you weren’t told you would be punished for cheating.

    Lastly, always destroy any evidence.

  16. They’ve operated with complete honesty and integrity with regards to *Framegate though, so it’s okay.

  17. I don’t fault the NFL for covering themselves for a foolish statement by a guy who has been full of himself since the time I remember him sitting by himself in the middle of Minnesota athletic club’s cafeteria, silently begging to be noticed.

    An organization needs time to correct for dumb, outrageous statements by people like Carter. I hope that the NFL people later told those rookies that Carter’s statement was out-of-bounds, and that people caught covering up will be disciplined

  18. The NFL is corrupt from the administration.

    Goodells leadership is Stalin -esque.

    The guy is power drunk…This garbage is getting sickening on a daily basis.

    The entire league…is starting to resemble the jets.

  19. When Goddell makes a statement after one of these outlandish miscues, he sounds like Kenny from South Park doesn’t he?

  20. They invited Carter back to speak at the 2015 event. Shows how much they were concerned about his comments.

  21. Haha, what a scumbag. If i hand you a drink and tell you its water, but oops it is 95% water and 5% HCl, i don’t think you would appreciate it.

  22. I blame Klemko…the stooge who works for Peter King. Makes you wonder about all of the seedy NFL related news that never gets reported.

    It is amazing. You cannot trust ESPN (did you see Lester Munson’s ridiculous Brady article last week), (Judy Batista reports that Brady demands that documents from the Appeal Hearing be sealed, when it was the precise opposite), and (Peter King has to apologize just about every week for faulty reporting and “bad” sources).

    For the truth on Deflategate, please read (by John Dowd), the Washington Post/Sally Jenkins, and Steph Stradley’s Law Blog.

  23. “Fields looked my way and said, ‘that can’t go in the story,’” Klemko wrote.

    So she was smart enough to immediately tell Klemko that he couldn’t run with it but then someone at 345 Park Ave posted it to But Klemko didn’t feel at that point it was fair game? That says an awful lot about the league’s whip hand with their higher profile national sports media ‘partners’ and none of it is good.

  24. The NFL is turning out to be unbelievably corrupt. How can they possibly mete out fines to players when they lie to the public themselves. Goodall and his “cronies” need to go and it’s about time the owners realize this

  25. I don’t know about the rest of you, but personally I’m shocked that a woman would recognize when men were being idiots and saying stupid things and the men involved wouldn’t. This must be the first time something like that has ever happened.

  26. This is on Klemko for agreeing to keep his mouth shut. This is not 1923, where the press and the teams are in cahoots.

  27. So he heard something, but didn’t report it because I’m sure all sorts of horse-trading and deals were made.

    Don’t write about that and we will allow you…

    Not a good day for the MMQB

  28. I cannot believe that Goodell approved of this crap.

    How can you have Goodell run the league and manage its image when he’s indirectly condoning the image to worsen?

    Also, for Klemko sign off on this showed how desperate he was for a story. The sad part is rookies have told reporters about all of the positives and the NFL let this get exacerbated. The NFL should have done everything in its own powers for none of this “fall guy” crap to come out. You have to pre-approve messages before they’re delivered.

  29. The NFL basically covers for everyone, and blames everything on the Patriots who say and do nothing.

  30. Doesn’t sound too good for Klemko or MMQB. Definitely NOT a place you want to get your NFL news from. Go stand over there by ESPN, MMQB.

  31. And when you’re slick as Tom Brady, you have two fall guys: Jim McNally and John Jastremski.

  32. Carter is such a fool. Somehow he feels his HOF status entitles him to say and do whatever he pleases and be the know-all for all subjects. He advised kids to break the law. How can he remain on radio/TV? Oh wait Ray Lewis..nevermind
    Great player after he cleaned up his act, but it’s time to say bye-bye to Carter and his clown act.

  33. The NFL, while wearing the the Shield with “integrity” written on it, has paid $10 MM to lawyers to chase Brady and pin a scarlet letter on him while they cover up a lecture to rookies by one of the NFL’s obedient servants on how to use a “fall guy” cover up and ensure they don’t get caught.

  34. The NFL needs to get its head out of its rectum here.

    Carter said something insane, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t say it. This is a perfect opportunity to fix the problems from prior days. Instead they will just cover it up.

  35. Goodell states that he is just viewing the video for the first time right now and finds it appalling. He has suspended Cris Carter indefinitely.

  36. wimpyburgers says:
    Aug 24, 2015 3:12 PM

    An organization needs time to correct for dumb, outrageous statements by people like Carter. I hope that the NFL people later told those rookies that Carter’s statement was out-of-bounds, and that people caught covering up will be disciplined

    The video, with the sage advice, was up on for over a year.

  37. guadalahonky says:
    Aug 24, 2015 3:11 PM
    Remember kids, Shady Brady advocates having two fall guys, not just one.


    Apparently there are always those who just don’t seem to understand that the story has changed and that it is the NFL that cannot be trusted – no matter what people thought about Brady when this story broke 8 months ago, it is coming out in drips and drabs that the NFL railroaded the Patriots and Brady. Some people don’t care because it is the Patriots, but wait till it is your team being lied about.

  38. That the “journalist” took the tidbit out of the story for access isn’t a big deal since this happens all the time. We hear these stories constantly after the fact, and the NFL has a strong pimp hand. It’s more scary that this is what’s going on with the “media” at large when they’re covering stuff that actually matters and not men playing games to entertain us.

  39. I’m giving it 18-24 months before we get a John Oliver video on the NFL and all the corruption that occurs. I know he did one on ray rice but it was not good enough to get Goodell out so I’m hoping for one with much more bite like the FIFA or the Televangelist episodes that will really get the ball rolling.

  40. I guess they can’t use the “we just found out what he said” excuse…..CC can forget about speaking there again….

  41. Mafia tactics by a corrupt organization willing to take down any player at anytime. Goodell needs to be relieved of duty

  42. The video has been up since 2014.. NFL and ESPN finally have a problem with it??

    C ant wait till pre-season is over..

  43. So, he wont be guess spotting on Mike and Mike anymore? One show down, another to go!

  44. That’s quite a website King is running over there at ol’ MMQB. And I don’t mean “quite” in a good way. Pretty bad when TWO reporters essentially admit being duped in one day.

    Peter King’s credibility vanishes by the week, and he’s dragging his minions down with him.

  45. What is even more amazing is the fact that the pig Sapp was standing next to him. Is anyone in the NFL administration even slightly qualified to hold a real job?

  46. I don’t think this really reflects poorly on Klemko, even if his boss Peter King has long been a Goodell supporter. I agree with him on the day this happened this was just a couple minutes of Carter going rogue and saying something stupid and not indicative of an NFL policy or the overall rookie symposium experience.

    The stupidity of this story is that the NFL hosted the video on its website for over a year without anyone thinking there was anything wrong. You can’t blame Klemko for that.

  47. Lmao and the NFL has the audacity to say players need to protect the integrity of the shield and hold true to the standards the NFL holds true.

    By what i have witnessed the NFL has no integrity. They are just a bunch of liars and censors.

  48. Once upon a time, before ESPN became the NFL’s unofficial press organ, they had a drama series called “Playmakers”.
    It was the story of fictional pro football team.
    It ran one season and the ratings were very high.
    But ESPN cancelled it under pressure from the NFL.
    It showed the inner workings of many of the scandals we’re discussing now and many others we never really think of.
    It was way too close for comfort for the NFL, and ESPN buckled.

  49. So the league in two bad PR moves:
    Suggested Chris Carter’s comments (that came out today) be kept off the record.
    And with this whole “deflate gate” debacle, the league reports bad information & with holds correct information and smears one of it’s highest profiled qb’s.

    Which actions do you think hurts the “sheild” more?
    I’d say CC coments by 100 fold.
    This is what you get with Roger Goodell!

  50. Goodell: Who is steering this ship?
    NFL Execs: We thought you were Mr. Commish.
    Goodell: Oh, oh yeah, haha. Never mind.

  51. Nothing but a bunch of faux outrage over nothing. Carter wasn’t suggest cover up for murder, unlike the Pat’s did with Hernandez.

    Get a grip!

  52. Wow the NFL owners pay this fool over $40 million a year and Goodell makes the Raiders front office look like freaking geniuses. When are they going to realize that Goodell doesn’t have management skills of a 17 year old at a Burger King.

  53. Goodell has the stones to claim he is looking after the integrity of the game, while at the same time this is the message the NFL is delivering to its new crop of rookies.

    It is staggering how dumb this guy and his staff must be.

  54. To funny. PETER KINGS beacon of journalism MMQB will not say REDSKINS but they will look away for a year on a real story because they are on their knees humming the NFL

  55. Goodell is a fool, but this should get Chris Carter booted from the broadcast booth…this is way worse than some things others have been fired for…to teach impressionable ‘young men’ how to basically get away with crime & bad actions?!

    What a joke Carter is. He talks a big game about caring about these guys, but what he did is the farthest thing from caring. Carter being the Carter he’s always been…he just did a decent job covering it up for a while.

  56. tigerlilac says:
    Aug 24, 2015 2:52 PM
    The NFL is the old Soviet Union, Goodell is Brezhnev, and ESPN is Pravda.
    Good analogy, but Brezhnev was less dictatorial and paid a lot less than Roger.

  57. NFL, Cris Carter integrity at its finest! Doesn’t that go against the NFL’s player conduct policy or is that just for Tom Brady? Pathetic.

  58. Even more proof that the NFL could be run by ANYONE and be successful. Everyone likes to point out how much money Roger has made for them and that’s why is the Commissioner.

  59. I guess the NFL should investigate and suspend themselves for the cover up. Did any NFL office member stand up and immediately correct Cris Carter when he said what he said? Of course not because they are the all powerful NFL and they do what they want… right or wrong.

  60. thegreatpampero says:
    Aug 24, 2015 3:20 PM

    I blame Klemko…the stooge who works for Peter King. Makes you wonder about all of the seedy NFL related news that never gets reported….


    Reporters are in a tough situation – the NFL has a tremendous amount of power and if a reporter steps on toes and gets blackballed, how do they do their job? On the other hand, it’s very clear that Peter King, et al, have much too cozy of a relationship with the league and Goodell. If everyone is buddy-buddy, that’s how these things stay off the record – until they don’t, then the NFL and the reporter(s) look like they have no integrity.

    Yeah, “look like”…

  61. The NFL front office is made up of the most hypocritical people on the face of this planet & IT STARTS FROM THE TOP DOWN!!!
    SAVE THE NFL!!!!

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