Marshall Faulk and 2 Others Suspended by NFL Network Over Sexual Misconduct Allegations
Marshall Faulk at the Super Bowl in 2014. He was suspended on Monday by NFL Network along with Ike Taylor and Heath Evans. CreditElsa/Getty Images
NFL Network has suspended the analysts Marshall Faulk, Heath Evans and Ike Taylor “pending an investigation” into allegations of sexual harassment and assault, the network announced late Monday.
The allegations were made in a lawsuit by a former NFL Network employee, Jami Cantor, who sued NFL Enterprises, the league’s media arm that operates the network, in Los Angeles Superior Court in October, alleging age and sex discrimination, sexual harassment and hostile work environment, and wrongful termination, among other complaints.
Eric Weinberger, the president of the Bill Simmons Media Group and a former NFL Network executive, was suspended by the media group as a result of allegations made about him in the lawsuit.
“These are very serious and disturbing allegations that we were made aware of today,” a spokesman for the Bill Simmons Media Group said in a statement. “We are placing Eric on leave indefinitely until we have a better understanding of what transpired during his time at the N.F.L., and we will conduct our own internal investigation.”
Cantor worked as a wardrobe stylist for the network from 2006 until she was fired in October 2016. She filed an amended complaint on Monday that more fully laid out the allegations of sexual harassment and assault against the three analysts, all former N.F.L. players.
In the complaint, Cantor says that Faulk, a Hall of Fame running back, asked personal questions about her sex life, fondled her and pulled out his genitals while demanding oral sex; that Evans, a former fullback, sent nude pictures and propositioned her; and that Taylor, a former cornerback, sent her a video that showed him masturbating. Cantor said that Weinberger, who left the network in 2015, groped her and put his crotch against her.
The lawsuit also said that Cantor had been harassed by the former N.F.L. players and ex-NFL Network analysts Donovan McNabb and Warren Sapp, as well as by the former network employee Marc Watts. Sapp was fired from the network in 2015 after being arrested for assault and soliciting prostitution. McNabb left the network in 2013, but later lost a job with Fox Sports after pleading guilty to drunken driving in November 2015.
“The supervisors knew about it, the supervisors observed it,” Cantor’s lawyer, Laura Horton, said in an interview on Monday. “It was insidious in this particular environment.”
NFL Network declined to comment beyond its initial statement announcing the suspensions. Representatives for Faulk, Evans and Taylor did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
All three players had long and successful N.F.L. careers that included a Super Bowl title. Faulk, a seven-time Pro Bowler who played for the Indianapolis Colts and the St. Louis Rams, won the Super Bowl with the Rams after the 1999 season and retired in 2007. Taylor spent his entire 12-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, winning two Super Bowl titles before retiring in 2015. Evans played for four teams across 10 seasons, winning a championship with the New Orleans Saints in 2010. He retired in 2011.
The lawsuit and suspensions are the latest in a wave of sexual harassment scandals that have led to firings and resignations of powerful men across a number of industries after a New York Times investigation into accusations of sexual harassment and abuse against the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
Though they are not the first accusations to hit the sports world — Fox Sports fired the executive Jamie Horowitz after claims of sexual misconductin July, the former major league catcher Gregg Zaun was fired from his job as an analyst after inappropriate behavior, and the former N.F.L. quarterback Warren Moon was accused of harassment last week — they are certainly the most high-profile to date.
They are also the latest in a string of bad news for the N.F.L. This season has seen continued protests during the national anthem, a bruising fightamong owners over the extension of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract, a protracted lawsuit over the suspension of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott after he was accused of domestic violence, and falling television ratings.
The lawsuit and suspensions were first reported by Bloomberg News.