Report: Shannon Sharpe's Call with Julio Jones Created a 'Massive Stink Bomb'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 26, 2021

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 4: Football legend Shannon Sharpe attends the First Entertainment x Los Angeles Lakers and Anthony Davis Partnership Launch Event at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on March 4, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for First Entertainment)
Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for First Entertainment

The impromptu phone call between former NFL tight end Shannon Sharpe and Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones on Fox Sports' Undisputed on Monday has reportedly created a "massive stink bomb" of frustration between the league and one of its main broadcast partners.

Michael McCarthy and A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports reported Tuesday the Falcons were "blindsided" by Jones' appearance on the show, and the receiver's Creative Artists Agency representatives have contacted Fox about the broadcast of the interview.

"It's become a huge deal," a source told McCarthy and Perez.

One of the unknown factors is whether Jones—who said "I'm out of there, man" when asked by Sharpe about his future with the Falcons—knew he was live on television when making his comments.

The situation could have potentially lasting ramifications for Sharpe and Fox Sports, per Front Office Sports. Most notably, Sharpe could face a misdemeanor criminal charge if he aired the interview without Jones giving consent to do so. It carries a possible $2,000 fine and up to one year in jail.

"It meets every criteria under the penal code," California-based attorney Dod Ghassemkhani said. "It will come down to if Jones wants to pursue it. I doubt he will."

Meanwhile, the Falcons and other teams could give Fox "less access and cooperation," while the network could end up in the NFL's "doghouse," per McCarthy and Perez.

Front Office Sports sources also questioned why the show's producers didn't cut off the interview or break for commercial to clear everything with Jones.

"This is on the production team. The producers have to do their job," a source said. "Their job is to protect Shannon and Skip [Bayless]. When something like this happens, you go to a commercial and figure it out—before they get in trouble."

Jones had already become the focus of trade rumors before the interview, but it's unlikely he'll be moved until after June 1 because of the dead-cap ramifications of his three-year, $66 million contract. Before June 1, a deal would leave $23.25 million on the Falcons' 2021 cap. It drops to $7.75 million next month, with the rest of the money shifted to 2022.

NBC Sports' Chris Simms reported Tuesday on PFT Live the seven-time Pro Bowl wideout is interested in the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans, though it's uncertain if those teams are actively pursuing a deal ahead of the 2021 campaign.

Jones has been one of the best playmakers in football since the Falcons selected him with the sixth overall pick in the 2011 draft. He's recorded 848 catches for 12,896 yards with 60 touchdowns in 135 games across 10 years with the franchise.

Most indications suggest he'll likely be suiting up for a new team before the season kicks off in September, though.