Fox Sports and Amazon host Charissa Thompson took to social media on Friday to clarify her comments on a podcast earlier this week that she “would make up” sideline reports during NFL games.
Thompson, who hosts Fox’s “NFL Kickoff” show and Amazon Prime Video’s “Thursday Night Football” coverage, said in a post on Instagram that she did not fabricate quotes from players or coaches, and that she would report her observations on the sidelines.
“Working in the media I understand how important words are and I chose wrong words to describe the situation. I’m sorry. I have never lied about anything or been unethical during my time as a sports broadcaster,” Thompson wrote.
“In the absence of a coach providing any information that could further my report I would use information that I learned and saw during the first half to create my report. For example if a team was 0 for 7 on third down, that would clearly be an area they need to improve on in the second half. In these instances I never attributed anything said to a player or coach.”
Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Friday that he had not heard a reporter fabricate any quotes by him.
“I’m sure it’d be boring if they fabricated what I had to say. Don’t all laugh at one time, guys,” he said.
Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell, who worked as a sideline reporter for San Diego State football games in his first post-NFL job in 2012 once he was done playing, said he has always tried to be accommodating to reporters in that role.
“I don’t know much about what’s transpired. I just know that every interaction I’ve ever had has been professional and really the questions have been thought-provoking and really something that hopefully provided some bonus for the TV broadcast during the game,” O’Connell said. “I can’t always give all the information, but I think it’s important to be honest and articulate and make sure that you’re putting some thought into the things that you say so hopefully that message gets delivered to our fan base.”
Thompson did NFL and college football sideline reporting for Fox Sports and the Big Ten Network in 2008 and ’09. Since then she has mainly handled in-studio hosting duties for ESPN, FS1, Fox and Amazon.
Thompson said on an episode of the “Pardon My Take” podcast released Wednesday that “I would make up the report sometimes because, A, the coach wouldn’t come out at halftime or it was too late and I was like, I didn’t want to screw up the report, so I was like, ‘I’m just gonna make this up.’”
On a 2022 podcast, Thompson and Fox’s Erin Andrews both said there were times when they paraphrased what coaches told them at halftime.
“I have nothing but respect for sideline reporters and for the tireless work they put in behind the scenes and on the field,” Thompson said in her social media post. “I am only appreciative and humbled to work alongside some of the best in the business and call them some of my best friends.”
Thompson’s comments drew widespread condemnation, including by other sideline reporters. ESPN “Monday Night Football” reporter Lisa Salters posted on social media Thursday night that she was “shocked, disappointed and disgusted.”
Salters added: “Trust and credibility. They mean everything to a journalist. To violate either one — in any way — not only makes a mockery of the profession, but is a disservice to players, coaches and, most importantly, to fans.”
AP Pro Football writers Dave Campbell and Teresa M. Walker contributed to this report.
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