By: Joe Strupp
The Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press had to spike a column by former NFL star Deion Sanders after the NFL Network, which has exclusive rights to his “image and opinions” pulled rank on the daily paper.
In a story by Sports Editor Ed Reed on Sunday, the paper explained that Sanders had written a column responding to a “national backlash” he had received last week for a previous column defending Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michel Vick and his alleged involvement in dogfighting.
“Understandably, the NFL did not like that one of the faces of its network was being portrayed as a Vick apologist. Deion sent a column responding to the criticism to The News-Press and the NFL Network on Friday morning,” Reed wrote. “That night, I received an e-mail from Thomas George, the NFL Network managing editor, which read: ‘This column and subsequent variations of it (are) not approved by NFL Network. It cannot run.’?
Reed called the spiked column Sanders’ “best work since he started writing his column in January.” Sanders is a former Fort Myers high school football star. The editor said NFL Network has agreed to allow Sanders to continue his column for the paper, but maintains the right to block publication of any future writing.