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Reporters apologize to Buccaneers’ Giovani Bernard after clip of tense interaction garnered backlash

The two reporters who, in the postgame, approached and badgered Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Giovani Bernard after he fumbled a botched fake punt in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals have both apologized to him privately.

ESPN’s Jenna Laine posted a video from the Buccaneers' locker room with the caption, "Bucs running back Giovani Bernard didn’t want to talk to the media about what happened on the botched fake punt. Here’s that interaction. Note: As reporters, it is our job to seek clarity on what happened, especially on the most pivotal play of a game."

The video garnered a fair amount of backlash and criticism, with many questioning why it was even posted.

Laine addressed the situation with a written statement shared to Twitter on Wednesday.

She explained that she apologized to Bernard first and wanted to wait until she “fully understood the missteps” she took before publicly apologizing.

“Obviously I afforded myself a period of grace that Giovani didn't get to have when asking him to talk postgame. He's a better person than me. For many reasons,” she wrote.

The video appeared to start mid-exchange. Bernard said something as he walked through reporters, prompting responses which referenced his limited availability due to injury.

"Well, you were injured all year," Laine said. Another reporter added: "What have you done for us to talk to you all year?"

The latter had been incorrectly attributed to Laine, who clarified that those words came from another reporter who also apologized.

Fox Sports reporter Greg Auman addressed his role in the exchange on Twitter as well. “Just to be clear: I shouldn’t have said what I said Sunday. I’ll apologize personally to Bernard the first chance I have,” he wrote on Tuesday in response to a clip from "The Pat McAfee Show" where the reporters were denounced.

“Not a good look at all and I understand the criticism,” he added.

Bernard was stunned at the reporters' behavior. In the video, he asked if he could speak with his family and the video cut after a brief back and forth. When it picked back up, Bernard said the play was a miscommunication on his part, and took full responsibility for what happened. When asked for more information, he repeated the error was his fault.

While he has not addressed the exchange, Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis chose not to answer a question from Laine to do so.

"As a team we just feel as if the people who should be on our side, should be on our side," Davis said. "Because it happened to him, we understand it could happen to any one of us."

“I don't want to shy anybody out but it’s a respect thing,” Davis added. “I respect you doing your job, you respect me doing my job.”

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 14: Giovani Bernard #25 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs onto the field during a NFL game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 14, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
The reporters who badgered Giovani Bernard have apologized. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) (Cooper Neill via Getty Images)