Regular NFL Network viewers this week may have noticed that Warren Sapp – an analyst who is officially an independent contractor with the network – remains on their air in the wake of being given a talking-to by network management after relaying alleged information from a “source” close to the New Orleans Saints bounty sanctions saga that former Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey (who spent the previous season with the Panthers and is currently a free agent) was the one who was the “snitch” on the whole thing.
In fact, much to the chagrin of Shockey – and many viewers who have let their feelings be known about the analyst on the network’s Facebook page – Sapp has appeared on NFL Network’s “Total Access” program for three consecutive days following the Twitter incident on Wednesday – including Thursday, the day he was reprimanded by the network for it.
However, you may have noticed there was something a bit different about his appearances on the network since Thursday – particularly in the network’s graphics.
That’s because the Twitter handle of Warren Sapp – @QBKilla – is no longer identified alongside Sapp’s name on NFL Network’s chyrons – while other NFL Network talent continue to have their Twitter identities branded on their individual chryons.
First, here’s a screengrab of Warren Sapp from Wednesday night’s edition of “Total Access” – mind you, hours after Sapp had appeared on the network earleir in the day to break down the “snitch” information he received:
Thursday. One day after Sapp went public with his “source” on Shockey. Not counting situations where he was identified along with other talent on the same shot, there were three different instances where Sapp was identified individually, with his Twitter handle nowhere to be found. We start with his appearance in the A-block, and his participation in a group discussion about whether or not newly acquired quarterback Tim Tebow can “coexist” on the Jets with former first-round draft pick Mark Sanchez. Torry Holt’s chryon included his Twitter handle @BigGame81. Michael Irvin – who has appeared to have taken a Twitter sabbatical for all of 2010 and 2011 – is also identified by his identity on the social networking site, @MichaelIrvin88. As for Warren Sapp’s chyron, the red area where Holt’s and Irvin’s Twitter names were displayed, in lieu of @QBKilla, it just read, “NFL Resume”:
Compare that with this still from an appearance also from Wednesday’s installment of “Total Access”:
At the bottom of the hour, Sapp authored a telestrator piece depicting how the Jets would be using Tebow “in the red zone… all year long.” Once again, his name is not accompanied by his Twitter handle:
And in the penultimate segment of Thursday’s edition of “Total Access,” Sapp was asked by co-host Kara Henderson how the signing of defensive end Mario Williams would impact the Buffalo Bills, in a “State Of The Franchise” segment on the team. Yet again, @QBKilla was nowhere to be found:
Friday. Yet another debate about the Jets’ quarterback situation was featured in the A-block of “Total Access.” This time, the program decided to “go Brady Bunch” (using a term from co-host Andrew Siciliano from the segment) with Sapp, Brian Billick and Jamie Dukes in answering the question, “How should Mark Sanchez… respond” in the wake of Tebow’s addition to the Jets roster. Viewers would see Dukes’ name alongside his Twitter handle @JamieDukes on his individual chyron, and Billick’s chyron branded with his Twitter identity @CoachBillick. But not before Sapp and yet another chyron sans @QBKilla:
And then there’s Saturday. The weekend edition of “Total Access” consists mostly of replays of the top segments from the past week, but usually is led off by a pre-recorded A-block – which Sapp had appeared on. Yet again, the Twitter handle on his chyron was MIA:
No doubt, the removal of Sapp’s Twitter identity from his individual chyrons on NFL Network is related to his being reprimanded by the network for labeling Shockey a “snitch” for Bountygate. But it leaves us with several questions: Whose idea was it to disassociate Sapp’s Twitter handle from how he’s identified on NFL Network’s air? Was it somebody from network management who suggested it? Perhaps it was a request from Shockey himself (though if he had his druthers, he’d rather see him off NFL Network’s air entirely)? Or was the network responding to viewer reaction? Which leads to another question: Is it because Sapp’s Twitter handle is @QBKilla that the network yanked any and all mentions of it from his on-air graphics? Or is it mainly because Sapp’s outing of Shockey as the alleged Bountygate “snitch” initially happened on his Twitter account? (Recall that one of the network’s higher-ups had vehemently distinguished that Sapp used “his personal Twitter account” to relay the “snitch” information, and “not on NFL Network or any platform related to NFL Media.”) And the obvious question: Is NFL Network’s removal of Sapp’s Twitter handle temporary? In other words, will we see the return of @QBKilla mentions on NFL Network’s air once this situation with Shockey dies down?
We attempted to contact NFL Network through NFL.com, but there is not even an option on their website for leaving a comment or a question related to their television programming, though there is an option for inquiries about “radio”.
I’m actually surprised that after three days, I’m the first person to notice this – and it’s concerning to me mostly because it gives the impression that a darn good program like “Total Access” isn’t getting the viewership it deserves – but should.
One thing’s for certain: At least for the time being, NFL Network has an on-air talent other than Tom Waddle without a Twitter handle attached to their chyron!