The newly named ESPN president must assume responsibility of the network’s longstanding relationship with the NFL, which has reached its nadir in recent months, according to a SportsBusiness Daily report, as negative NFL storylines have made their way into ESPN’s coverage. Pitaro, who took over last Monday after a search that began when James Skipper stepped down in December, has made it one of his top priorities to patch up the points of contention that materialized under Skipper’s leadership.
Reconciling with NFL executives became even more urgent when it was announced FOX and the NFL Network were joining forces in covering the NFL draft. That news came the same day Pitaro grabbed the reins, and it didn’t sit well with ESPN that the league had tabbed one of the network’s biggest competitors to air its own show around the draft, for which the Worlwide Leader has been the go-to source for decades.
The FOX deal could be seen as revenge by the NFL for ESPN dipping its toes into the myriad controversies that marked last season — the league’s handling of national anthem protests, increasing connections between football and traumatic brain injuries and criticism surrounding commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract extension, among others.
AS REPORTED BY THE NEW YORK POST