It’s safe to say Deflategate was a regrettable year-and-a-half debacle for just about everyone involved, including ESPN NFL insider Chris Mortensen. But no matter what happened, the hate-filled responses Mortensen received on social media were not OK.
Mortensen’s initial report that 11 of the 12 footballs used by the New England Patriots in the 2014 AFC Championship Game were underinflated by 2 pounds turned out to be false, and many outraged fans attributed that report to the fallout that led to Tom Brady’s eventual four-game suspension.
Mortensen, who since has battled throat cancer, recently was profiled by The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis, and one of the big topics addressed, of course, was Deflategate. The profile gave an in-depth look at how Mortensen reported on Deflategate and what went wrong, but that all took a back seat to this:
“Mort’s cool began to melt only when he started to get a number of death threats. ‘What bothered me is we’re in an era where if your wife goes onto social media, she basically reads that they want you to die,’ Mort said, via The Ringer. ‘Even after I got cancer, I got some death wishes.’
“The Mortensens live in Arkansas. But when Mort was working in Bristol, they often stayed in a house they leased in Connecticut. As the Deflategate threats began to pile up, Mort told Micki he didn’t want her traveling to Connecticut anymore. ‘My job is to protect her,’ he said. When Mort himself came to Bristol, he behaved like someone who was living under a public threat. He went straight from the ESPN studio to his home, avoiding restaurants and rarely appearing in public.”
That is not OK.
Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images