ESPN was rightly criticized this week after it ran a story about the showering habits of Rams rookie Michael Sam, the NFL's first openly gay player. The network, which found itself in the crosshairs of Rams coach Jeff Fisher and Comedy Central's The Daily Show, has since apologized for the report.
On Friday afternoon, ESPN's Josina Anderson, who reported the Sam shower story, explained herself through the network's PR website.
“I wanted to take this opportunity to say I understand the vast and varying perspectives regarding our Michael Sam report,” Anderson said. “I'm particularly sensitive to those who feel the content therein worked to perpetuate stereotypes surrounding the LGBT community, or was just overall insensitive. In all humility, I truly understand these viewpoints and have taken time to reflect on how our story had this unintended consequence. To Michael Sam, I truly empathize with and respect your journey thus far on many different levels. Ultimately, I've always believed making a professional sports roster should and will come down to production.
“In my role as reporter, it's also important for me to emphasize that I highly value accuracy and in this case gathered facts using well-accepted journalistic standards. I can also appreciate that there are always lessons to be gained in any situation regardless of experience or tenure.
“As I move on, I look forward to leading off ESPN's regular-season NFL coverage next week and I appreciate their continued support.”
ProFootballTalk.com reports that Anderson hasn't been suspended by ESPN. Regardless, Fisher was livid.
"I'm extremely disappointed in her piece," the coach told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Wednesday. "I think it's unethical. I think it's very, very unprofessional. Not only the piece itself, the content. The manner in which she did it."
Fisher went so far as to suggest Anderson "manufactured" the story.
"We have a media policy, and we're very flexible," he said. "We have open practices. Players are available. We have open locker rooms. She was out of line because she went and contacted several players on their personal time. Misled them with questions and then put this piece together. ...
"Obviously she came in, in all likelihood to see if there was gonna be a roster move at the 75 cutdown as it relates to Mike Sam," Fisher continued. "That didn't happen. But she needed to do something, and it's my understanding that she manufactured this story."