ESPN And NFL Network Suspend On-Air Analysts Over Sexual Harassment Allegations

Daytime news shows have been rocked hard in the recent past, with high-profile anchors like Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer getting ousted in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. It's now sports fans that are reeling, as a lawsuit has put various former athletes and on-air personalities in the crosshairs for varying degrees of sexual misconduct. In the aftermath, NFL Network has suspended Marshall Faulk, Heath Evans and Ike Taylor, while ESPN has removed Donovan McNabb and Eric Davis from appearing on the network while the investigation is underway. Former NFL Network exec Eric Weinberger is also involved.

Ex-NFL Network wardrobe stylist Jami Cantor is the one who first filed the harassment lawsuit in Los Angeles back in October, claiming wrongful termination. After making complaints about co-workers and other troublesome working conditions, the 51-year-old was fired that month, having been accused of stealing clothes, which she denied and claimed her innocence could be proven through security camera footage. (She was replaced by a 30-year-old, and Cantor claims she's seen the NFL "age out" other workers, too .) But while the original lawsuit didn't name any names, Cantor filed an amendment complaint on Monday that brought in a lot of new details and accusations, with the former athletes getting name-checked for various alleged situations.

According to Jami Cantor's complaint, Marshall Faulk would grope her breasts and buttocks, sometimes going way too far in asking personal questions about her sex life. On one occasion, he allegedly invited her to his hotel room and exposed himself to her while making suggestive comments. Heath Evans and Ike Taylor also reportedly groped Cantor and made sexually extreme comments to her. Taylor is further noted for having allegedly sent "sexually inappropriate" pictures to Cantor, as well as a video of him masturbating in the shower. According to Bloomberg, NFL Network spokesman Alex Riethmiller said all three men had been suspended while the company looked into the investigation.

Other former NFL Network analysts cited in the lawsuit include Donovan McNabb, Eric Davis and Warren Sapp, and the former two have currently been taken off their respective ESPN gigs. McNabb is cited as having engaged in sexual conversation via text, which included repeatedly asking about a specific sexual act. The claims were a tad more specific when it came to Davis. According to USA Today, he allegedly asked Cantor to have rough sex with him, saying he wanted to choke her from behind until he was begged to stop. Sapp, meanwhile, is accused of urinating in front of Cantor despite her protests, and she claims he would often talk openly about his sex life with her and others, often showing nude pictures of the women he said he'd slept with. He was also reportedly known for giving sex toys as Christmas presents.

The lawsuit amendment also alleges that former NFL Network executive producer Eric Weinberger, who is now a top executive at Bill Simmons' Ringer media empire, was known for conducting himself in inappropriate ways. In one instance, he pressed his crotch against Cantor and asked her to touch it, among other suggestive phrasings. Weinberger is currently on leave from The Ringer as the investigation goes on.

The wide world of sports analysts and execs is getting a little more murky now that these allegations have come forth, and fans will no doubt be interested to see what the future looks like for both NFL Network and ESPN, especially if these aren't the last accusations to get attention. In the meantime, there are plenty of new and returning shows headed to other channels, so hit up our fall TV premiere schedule and our 2018 midseason premiere schedule to see everything that's on the way in the near future.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.