A public back-and-forth is playing out between NFL Network and former analyst Heath Evans.
In response to the league’s response to Evans’ opening salvo from Thursday morning, Evans continues to peel off the gloves.
“Your 180 degree change in position now that you settled the lawsuit is astonishing,” Evans said in response to a statement from the league that Evans was terminated for misconduct to which he has admitted. As Evans sees it, it’s not that simple, given that the league was aware that Evans and Jami Cantor exchanged photos before Evans’ name came up in Cantor’s sexual harassment lawsuit.
“The NFL Network kept me on air for a month and a half (46 days) after you knew about the picture exchange,” Evans said. “The NFL Network only suspended me (with pay) after the false allegations were made public. . . . The NFL Network continued to pay me for 9 months (nearly $400K) while it used my evidence in the lawsuit. . . The very first time the NFL Network ever mentioned terminating me was after it settled the lawsuit in an effort to threaten me and silence me. Coverup never looks good . . . even on the NFL.”
The timeline isn’t all that surprising, given the manner in which many companies handle lawsuits alleging workplace misconduct. The company often defends the employee accused of wrongdoing while the case is pending, in order to ensure that the employee will cooperate with the lawyers and will testify, if needed, in a way that assists the cause. Then, when the underlying lawsuit is settled, the employee accused of wrongdoing can safely be cut loose.
That’s what Evans seems to be saying — that the league had no issue at all with his conduct until it became public, that it took him off the air but paid him while the sexual harassment lawsuit was pending, and that it then fired him after the case was settled and after Evans no longer had value to the NFL as an employee who would help the league present its best possible defense at trial, if needed.
Really, why else would the league fire Evans now for conduct about which the league had known for months? In hindsight, Evans should have insisted on clarity regarding his employment status while the original lawsuit was still pending, and when the league had a clear incentive to ensure that Evans would be willing to help the league avoid losing in court.
Evans can still get a pound of flesh. He already has promised to shed light on “experiences not only pertaining to my accuser but also other women who work at the NFL Network and what they have been subjected to and have had to endure in order to keep the jobs they have worked their entire careers for.”
So, basically, this one may get even uglier.