Hall of fame reporter Jim Trotter has filed a lawsuit against NFL, and in part he’s claiming that the league exercises undue control over NFL Media, preventing the reporting of critical information.
In his lawsuit, Trotter points to his attempts to report on the cancellation and subsequent resumption of the Bills-Bengals game on January 2, 2023, following a cardiac arrest incident involving Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin.
According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, Trotter’s complaint, filed in court, alleges that the NFL played a significant role in the decision to resume the game after a five-minute warm-up period, contrary to initial reports suggesting the decision was made by on-field officials.
According to the complaint, Trotter and other reporters learned that this directive originated from the NFL league office.
Paragraph 162 of the complaint states, “This directive was uncovered by several reporters and was widely reported in the media in the days that followed. However, the NFL staunchly denied these claims, as reflected in the various articles. Mr. Trotter, for his part, investigated further. He received confirmation from multiple sources refuting the NFL’s version and its denial.”
Attempting to shed light on the matter, Trotter reached out to Brian McCarthy, the NFL’s Vice President of Communications, seeking a comment from the NFL employee responsible for informing the teams of the game’s resumption. However, according to the complaint, Mr. McCarthy denied the allegations and refused to make the individual available for an interview.
Paragraph 163 details Trotter’s pursuit of the truth, as he insisted on speaking with the person responsible or obtaining a comment. In response, McCarthy threatened to contact Trotter’s supervisor, to which Trotter reportedly replied that he was “fine with” the idea because he was merely doing his job as a journalist.
Subsequently, Trotter received a text message from Todd Sperry, as stated in paragraph 165 of the complaint. The text allegedly directed Trotter to “stand down” in his reporting on the story. Trotter responded, questioning the role of journalists in pursuing the truth, to which Sperry did not provide a response.
Jim Trotter’s lawsuit against the NFL brings to light allegations of content control within NFL Media and raises questions about transparency and accountability within the league regarding critical incidents like the Bills-Bengals game’s cancellation and resumption.