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Peter King: NFL Hopes Peer Pressure Gets Players Vaccinated

All NFL teams have had at least 60% of their players fully or partially vaccinated.

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Courtesy: Brittany Hosea-Small | Reuters

The gloves have come off for the NFL, and NBC Sports’ “Football Morning in America” columnist Peter King has the inside scoop on how people surrounding the league feel. Last week, the NFL announced strict policies enforced if a team has a COVID-19 outbreak amongst unvaccinated players. 

The big word that stood out was “forfeit.” The league moved heaven and earth to fit in every game throughout the 2020 17-week schedule, but they won’t be jumping through those hoops in 2021. In the event of an outbreak that disrupts play, neither team is paid. On top of that, the team at fault will forfeit, not receive the loss for draft purposes, and have to refill the NFL coffers with the television money lost from the cancellation.

Powers that be in the league have essentially mandated the vaccine without saying it’s mandated. Agents Drew Rosenhaus and David Canter are caught between a rock and a hard place.

“I have players adamant they won’t get the vaccine,” Rosenhaus told Peter King. “They just don’t want to be told what to do. I think there will be players who decide they don’t want to play because of this issue.”

Canter says players on the margins don’t have much choice at all.

“If you’re on the street, and unless you were really good last year but got injured, you will not get signed by an NFL team,” Canter said to King. “GMs are already losing their minds over the vaccine, and they’re not going to take [marginal] players who won’t get the shot.”

Peter King reported that nine teams crossed the 90% vaccination rate mark, and NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero updated that mark on Monday. According to Pelissero, All teams are over the 60% threshold, 83.6% of players have received at least one shot, and 10 clubs now have 90% or more of their players vaccinated.

King says the NFL is hopeful that the “second-class citizen” feel of being unvaccinated with more workplace restrictions helps push every team closer to a high vaccination rate. Check out his entire FMIA column here as NFL Training Camps open up across the country.

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Study Finds ESPN Leading Sports Media’s Gender & Racial Diversification

“Sports media at large made little progress towards a more diverse workplace as white-male influences are still dominant.”

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Courtesy: TIDES

The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) released a report card detailing race and gender among sports media recently for the first time since 2018. Dr. Richard Lapchick and his team at the University of Central Florida put together the report. Lapchick is the endowed chair at UCF’s Devos Sport Business Management Program.

Sports media at large made little progress towards a more diverse workplace as white, male influences are still dominant.

The 2021 Sports Media Racial and Gender Report Card: Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) Racial and Gender Report Card showed minor improvements for the organization compared to 2018. APSE improved on its racial grade with a B-plus but still received an F in gender grade. 

“We need more women in this industry,” former APSE president Lisa Wilson said in an ESPN article. “We need those voices. We need that perspective. We need them making coverage and hiring decisions.”

Racial demographics showed a much larger improvement across the board in a few key areas. Something the Rainbow PUSH Coalition has been hard at work to change.

“The stories that are being told should reflect those on the field as well as the audiences that they reach,” The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said to ESPN. “Dr. Lapchick’s report indicates there has been some progress, but the sports media world is still overwhelmingly white and male.”

Lapchick noted that ESPN is a big driver in sports media’s racial and gender equity growth, so much so that removing ESPN from the equation massively impacts diversity across the industry. 

Removing ESPN from the study brings the total female percentage of sports editors from 16.7% to 13.5% and columnists from 17.8% to 13.8%. The same is true on the racial side of the equation.

Taking ESPN out of the data completely, means sports editors of color would decrease from 20.8% to 18.9%, assistant sports editors from 27.7% to 22.7%, columnists from 22.9% to 18.1%, reporters from 22.9% to 22.5%, and total staffs from 23.5% to 22.0%.

ESPN takes plenty of heat in sports media circles, but they deserve a lot of respect and acknowledgment for how they have tried to level the playing field with their gender and racial hiring practices. 

Check out the full report here.

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Sports Online

Ariel Helwani To Produce Content For BetMGM

“Helwani noted how much he enjoys MGM properties every time he goes out to the Nevada desert for a big fight.”

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Courtesy: BetMGM

MMA reporter Ariel Helwani announced on his Substack that he is joining BetMGM as a content producer. Helwani is cooking up content for the service leading up to UFC fight cards while having access to the sports book’s treasure trove of data for his analysis.

“I’m working with great people each and every day. This is the dream. But there was one more partnership I was looking to secure,” Ariel Helwani wrote in his announcement post. “As you all know, sports gaming has exploded in America, and, of course, it’s a massive part of the way people talk about and consume combat sports.”

Helwani has put on a bunch of different hats since leaving ESPN, including new roles with SB Nation, BT Sport, and The Ringer.

“So, I wanted to partner with a gaming company, too,” Helwani continued. “To provide content for and to share content leading up to events. This was big for me. And, truth be told, there was only one entity I wanted to team up with and only one that I actually spoke to: BetMGM.”

Ariel Helwani noted how much he enjoys MGM properties every time he goes out to the Nevada desert for a big fight. He also mentioned one key relationship that threaded his time at ESPN with this new role, his connection to BetMGM COO Ryan Spoon.

“Spoon was the digital content chief at ESPN during my time there,” Helwani wrote. “He’s a great guy. Very non-corporate, which is my style. I enjoyed working with him very much.

“Well, late last year, he announced that he would be leaving ESPN to become the new COO of BetMGM. I found this move to be fascinating on many levels, but it also told me that if Ryan was willing to leave a great gig at ESPN for BetMGM, BetMGM was a special place to be.”

Like so many ESPN ex-pats before him, Ariel Helwani is leveraging his brand just fine during a fresh stage of his career.

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All-22 Camera Returning To NFL Game Pass

“As of Sept. 23, the service hasn’t returned. Many buyers purchased Game Pass under the guise that All-22 would be included.”

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Courtesy: NFL

Media members in and around the NFL can soon rejoice. 

Pro Football Talk is reporting that All-22 film capabilities are returning to NFL Game Pass today. All-22 is exactly what it sounds like; the viewer can see all 22 players on the field during any given play. The camera view from each end zone is one of the many angles NFL coaches use to break down film of their teams and opponents.

The service has not been accessible on Game Pass for months now, and it has hampered the media at large from diving into their NFL analysis.

“We are targeting the end of Week 1/early Week 2 for coaches film to be available,” an NFL spokesperson told PFT earlier this month via email. “The team has a demo scheduled for mid-week next week and will deploy accordingly.”

As of Sept. 23, the service hasn’t returned. Many buyers purchased Game Pass under the guise that All-22 would be included. So far, those promises aren’t being kept. Users were also upset about search functions being removed from the website.

They’ve been through this song and dance before with the new version of Game Pass. PFT also reported on an All-22 re-launch date in early August.

“According to the league,” Mike Florio wrote last month. “The goal is to return the all-22 film to Game Pass service by the start of the regular season. The technical interface to Game Pass has changed, and it could be a technical issue associated with the transition. Whatever the reason, the all-22 film will be back in time to watch the film from the 272 regular-season games to be played in 2021.”

Nearly a month into the 2021 NFL regular season and Game Pass is still having issues with its interface. With most media members still barred from locker rooms, reviewing film is one of the ways some reporters supplement their coverage.

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