Fox Sports 1 host Katie Nolan harshly criticized sports reporters over their friendly treatment of Dallas Cowboys player Greg Hardy, who returned from a suspension for assaulting and threatening to kill his then-girlfriend last year. Several sports journalists appeared to joke with Hardy about “attractive” women and, as Nolan put it, “let him go on about girlfriends and guns.”
Hardy was suspended for four games after he allegedly strangled his girlfriend, Nicole Holder, and “slammed” her against a futon and a couch “covered” in firearms. He was convicted by a judge of the assault last year, but that was overturned on appeal after Holder reportedly couldn't be located to testify in a jury trial.
During a press availability this week, a reporter asked Hardy if it would take very long for him to get back in shape, and he responded, “I hope not. I hope I come out guns blazing.”
On her Fox Sports 1 show Garbage Time, Nolan responded by calling out the NFL for promoting Hardy's comments, and criticizing sports journalists who asked Hardy whether he found particular women “attractive” and failed to “act with just a shred of human decency” :
NOLAN: That guy, facing the media for the first time, said he'd like to come out “guns blazing.” That's baffling to me. And not just as a woman, but as a person who majored in public relations. How do you let that comment happen? Oh, I'm sorry, not just let it happen, publish it on the league's official website, endorsing it with your precious shield, which, oh, I noticed has a pink ribbon on it this month because you care about women. That's cool, thanks.
And if you're thinking, relax, the guy used the wrong phrasing, don't get your panties in a bunch, first of all, hey Cowboys fans, thanks for watching the show. But second of all, you're wrong.
See, when reporters asked Hardy questions about his treatment of women, he deflected and insisted on bringing the focus back to football.
But then, when they asked him about Tom Brady, a question about football, here's his response per Brandon George from the Dallas Morning News: “I love seeing Tom Brady. You seen his wife? I hope she comes to the game. I hope her sister comes to the game.”
Greg Hardy had to pretend to respect women for twelve minutes. Just twelve minutes. And he couldn't even do that.
And what's worse, no one stopped him. They let him go on about girlfriends and guns, and posted video of it on DallasCowboys.com, because who fucking cares, right? Women won't see it. Women only care about football during those events they run, where they tell them what to cook on game day and give them free manicures.
And then, another reporter, a person I'm supposed to feel is a colleague of mine here in sports media, “asked if Hardy looks forward to playing teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars, and whether he finds their quarterback Blake Bortles' significant other attractive.”
Christ, guys. Enough. Enough. I see this shit in my timeline, next to a story about Stedman Bailey being fined by the league for pretending to take a nap on a football in the end zone, and it's just like, what are we fucking doing? What matters to you? Seriously? What matters to you? Because expecting a garbage human, who has been punished for being garbage, to come back from his suspension and not immediately resume being garbage, is asking the bare minimum.
And if me hoping that the league, and the Cowboys, and their PR people, and the media, could act with just a shred of human decency, is ruining football for you, then I'm disappointed I guess, in how much we're willing to accept in order to protect our precious Sundays.
This is not the first time Nolan has called out her fellow sports reporters and media outlets for their reporting on violence against women -- even her own network.
In September 2014, in response to the Ray Rice scandal (where the then-Baltimore Ravens running back was filmed hitting his girlfriend so violently she passed out in an elevator), Nolan posted a video online talking about women in the NFL, and in particular, the lack of women in sports media. She concluded by saying:
NOLAN: Women in sports television are allowed to read headlines, patrol sidelines and generally facilitate conversation for their male colleagues. Sometimes, they even let us monitor the Internet from a couch. And while the Stephen A. Smiths, Mike Francesas, Dan Patricks and Keith Olbermanns of the world get to weigh in on the issues of the day, we just smile and throw to commercial.
A lot of people like to justify women's supporting role in sports media by saying, well, they've never played the game so they just aren't qualified to speak about it. Because, God forbid, someone misspeak about the game. But topics like domestic violence and racism and corruption? Let's let Boomer handle those between downs.
It's time for the conversation to change, or at least those participating in the conversation. It's time for women to have a seat at the big boy table, and not where their presence is a gimmick or a concept -- just a person who happens to have breasts offering their opinion on the sports they love and the topics they know.
Because, the truth is, the NFL will never respect women and their opinions as long as the media it answers to doesn't. I'm ready when you are, Fox.