According to the Sporting News, ESPN is considering hiring former NFL player Ben Watson for an NFL analyst role.
Watson seems like a natural for a broadcaster career. During his 15-year NFL career, he never shied away from strong opinions, not just involving the NFL, but also about society.
Watson’s broadcast agent Mark Lepselter told the Sporting News his client has a “voice that goes far beyond the X’s and O’s” of football. Benjamin’s ability to engage people on social issues, and do so in a thoughtful manner, is very rare.”
Watson’s has spoken on a myriad social issues during his NFL career, including a heartfelt essay on Facebook after the Ferguson verdict. He was also a critic of the language President Donald J. Trump used to describe NFL anthem-kneelers and is strong advocate for criminal justice reform.
These positions likely won’t cause any issues for Watson when he joins the MSM.
However, another of Watson’s strong opinions which actually of his could ruffle some feathers, is his vocal opposition of Planned Parenthood.
During a 2016 interview with the Turning Point Pregnancy Resource Center in San Diego, Watson criticized Planned Parenthood harshly.
“I wouldn’t say I have any unique insight,” Watson said. “I do know that blacks kind of represent a large portion of the abortions, and I do know that honestly the whole idea with Planned Parenthood and [Margaret] Sanger in the past was to exterminate blacks, and it’s kind of ironic that it’s working.
“We [as minorities] support candidates, and overwhelmingly support the idea of having Planned Parenthood and the like, and yet, that is why she created it. We are buying it hook, line, and sinker, like it’s a great thing. It’s just amazing to me and abortion saddens me period, but it seems to be something that is really pushed on minorities and provided to minorities especially as something that they should do.
“In the public, it seems to be painted that when minorities get pregnant they need to get abortions, especially when it comes to teen pregnancy. It’s like when black girls are pregnant, it’s like a statistic, but when white girls get pregnant, they get a TV show.”
Watson was troubled by videos released in 2015 detailing the alleged bartering of infant body parts, and took to Facebook to vent about the story.
“As horrific as it is, the issue isn’t really the sale of human parts” Watson wrote. “It’s the legal practice that allows this to even be a possibility. Killing children and simply discarding the leftovers is not any more acceptable than profiting [from] them.”
On January 18, 2018, Watson told Planned Parenthood to not quote Dr. Martin Luther King.
“Today, we remember Dr King’s legacy of resistance and commit to carrying the torch of courageous vision and action towards justice and equity.#MLKDay,” a Planned Parenthood post read.
Watson shared the post on his own Facebook page and responded with two words: “Just stop.”
After losing audience share due to becoming too political, ESPN’s made a concerted effort to steer their talent away from political talk, even moving on from writer Jemele Hill who once called Trump a “white supremacist.”
It remains to be seen what ground rules, in any, they’ll have for Watson, if they do hire him.