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New 'MNF' Announcer Slips on National TV, Slams NFL's 'Left Wing' Agenda

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The NFL has often been dragged by American leftists as a league for Republicans, with performative patriotism, tributes to the American flag, and the most vocal and open support of America’s military leading in the most hyperbolic cases to accusations of outright fascism.

So for a television commentator — and not just any commentator, but one broadcasting a “Monday Night Football” game on ESPN — to accuse the league of becoming “left-wing” is a 10-megaton bombshell the size of Ivy Mike.

The commentator in question is former Cowboys tight end and current ESPN game analyst Jason Witten, who was referring to the stricter roughing-the-passer rule that everyone in NFL circles loves to hate these days.

Twitter caught the gaffe, which came during the third quarter of the Steelers’ 30-27 win over the Buccaneers.

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Witten’s comments were otherwise heartfelt until that political jab from out of left field.

“They’ve just gone too far with that rule. I knew they wanted to make it about the health and safety, and protecting these quarterbacks, but it just seems like we went a little bit to the left wing on that, you know?” Witten said.

Then again, if your political orientation is the Cruel Irony Party, you could point out that this happened on ESPN, a network desperately trying to shed its image as a left-wing propaganda vehicle masquerading as a sports outfit.

New ESPN boss Jimmy Pitaro has made it his mission to discourage anchors from making political statements, and many feel the network’s decision to part ways with political lightning rod Jemele Hill was a case of Pitaro putting his money where his mouth is.

Is ESPN still too political?

So for Witten to open up that can of worms just three weeks into his on-air tenure with the network puts Pitaro in one heck of a spot.

Pitaro’s words in March were clear on that very point.

“We are not a political organization. We are a sports-media company. And our focus is on serving the sports fans,” Pitaro said. “There will always be intersections between sports and politics. When that news happens, we are going to cover it.

“I will tell you, regarding our employees specifically, we provided them with guidelines. There is general understanding and alignment in terms of what our best path forward is within the company. … I’m a big believer in the value of social media, and we need to engage with our fans through social media in a thoughtful way, and we are doing that. We have taken and will continue to take a very open approach, and what I mean by that is we are going to make sure we are present everywhere our fans are.”

Meanwhile, on the subject of the roughing-the-passer rule, Witten poked at the same point that has plagued the league since Clay Matthews started racking up penalties the way Babe Ruth used to rack up home runs in baseball.

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The fan perception of the NFL has become one of a league gone soft, where on any given play, 22 players are risking their health and their long-term ability to function through head and joint injuries to provide the most brutal spectacle in team sports.

The idea that one of those 22 players is now exempt from that, and the one in question is the guy making the most money and getting all the credit for the wins, is an affront to the blue-collar nature of football.

Which, speaking of cruel irony, protecting the top 4.55 percent at the expense of the masses? That’s not very socialist or left-wing of the NFL now, is it?

So far, the roughing-the-passer rule has poisoned everything it’s touched. Quarterbacks are still getting injured — look at Jimmy Garoppolo for proof of that — fans are getting turned off, and broadcasters are courting controversy by defying their bosses’ prohibition on being overtly political.

The sooner the league finally acknowledges the new rule has failed, the better.

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Boston born and raised, Fox has been writing about sports since 2011. He covered ESPN Friday Night Fights shows for The Boxing Tribune before shifting focus and launching Pace and Space, the home of "Smart NBA Talk for Smart NBA Fans", in 2015. He can often be found advocating for various NBA teams to pack up and move to his adopted hometown of Seattle.
Boston born and raised, Fox has been writing about sports since 2011. He covered ESPN Friday Night Fights shows for The Boxing Tribune before shifting focus and launching Pace and Space, the home of "Smart NBA Talk for Smart NBA Fans", in 2015. He can often be found advocating for various NBA teams to pack up and move to his adopted hometown of Seattle.
Birthplace
Boston, Massachusetts
Education
Bachelor of Science in Accounting from University of Nevada-Reno
Location
Seattle, Washington
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Sports




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