Exactly two weeks ago, ESPN Mobile was under scrutiny for appending the headline "Chink In The Armor" to a story about the Knicks' first loss in the Jeremy Lin era; Lin, as you know, is an Asian-American player. That resulted in the termination of five-year employee Anthony Federico, and a subsequent stance by the Asian-American Journalists Association advising media to be wary of "danger zones" when reporting about Lin.
Now, it appears that ESPN is really opening up the floodgates... Pardon the pun, but they're really asking for it this time.
On Friday, news broke of an alleged "bounty system" in the New Orleans Saints organization, rewarding players for tackles that resulted in game-ending injuries for opposing players, a system that is said to have been in place for the past three seasons, and spearheaded by then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who is now an employee of the St. Louis Rams in the same capacity, but has yet to coach a game for that team (and if he receives a suspension from the league, he may have to wait a little longer for his Rams debut). Note that ESPN's Adam Schefter is credited with breaking the story.
As of Saturday morning, and well into the afternoon, the headline for a story on ESPN's mobile website about the alleged bounty system taking place at the football team in New Orleans read - ready? - "Deep Waters."
Remember, ESPN is two weeks removed from dismissing another staffer for an ill-advised headline published on their mobile website. And now, Anthony Federico's replacement goes and steps in it.
Need I remind you that Hurricane Katrina in 2005 claimed 1,836 lives, and is the third deadliest hurricane of all time in the United States, trailing the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900, and the Lake Okeechobee (Florida) hurricane 28 years later.
A natural disaster where many lives were lost and a lot of damage was done. Yet the Worldwide Leader, where so much damage has been done to their "good public relations" profile, has no problem making a veiled reference to Katrina in a headline for a negative story involving New Orleans. Pathetic.
"Deep Waters" was the headline for the item on ESPN's mobile website, as well as the bottom menu of rotating top stories, as of 10 AM ET this morning.
In fairness, the headline on ESPN's regular website for the story read, "Not Acting Like Saints," with the headline on the bottom menu reading, "Saints In Trouble." (However, the sub-headline makes a reference to "Roger Goddell"... ESPN is really batting a thousand with this story today.)
Regardless, it's clear that ESPN Mobile did not have to go "there" - especially after the Lin incident two weeks ago. I doubt the headline writer was making a reference to Saints linebacker Anthony Waters, who has a grand total of ten tackles in thirteen games with New Orleans, and who has not suited up for a game since 2010.
Now, ESPN is likely going to go through the motions (apology, punishment) once again, but it really shouldn't have come to this. Especially since not even a full month has passed after the fallout from the "chink in the armor" controversy. It has reached the point where the Worldwide Leader needs to employ an independent "headline checker" to prevent further questionable headlines from appearing on their platforms.
Because as it stands, the Worldwide Leader is really up a creek without a paddle.