Eastman: Dissecting the A.J. Brown vs 94 WIP situation

AJ Brown graphic. - Multimedia Editor / Drew Peltzman

It became the call heard around the Delaware Valley. A.J. Brown, frustrated over the Philadelphia media’s coverage of him and the Eagles, decided to take matters into his own hands. Last Friday, Brown called into 94 WIP’s afternoon show and talked to co-hosts Ike Reese and Jack Fritz about his issues with the media. 

What became an unforgettable 20 minutes of radio begs the question: What should the media’s relationship with athletes look like? And who should carry the blame for this situation becoming so toxic? 

It’s important to establish more context to fully understand the reasoning for Brown’s frustration. During the Eagles’ late-season collapse, many journalists and fans questioned what was the root causes of the debacle. Brown was a person of interest because he deactivated his social media accounts and refused to talk to media members. People began to speculate that Brown was unhappy in Philly and that he had contributed to a divided locker room. 

The powder keg of rumors was lit last week when multiple reports came out detailing the dysfunction in the locker room. These reports varied from Brown’s relationship souring with Jalen Hurts to Hurts having questionable leadership skills after signing his huge extension last offseason, and Nick Sirianni getting involved in arguments with other coaches on the sideline during games. 

At this point, Brown had heard enough of the reports and decided to speak out, culminating with the legendary 20-minute call. Brown ripped into the media over their coverage of him and his teammates, categorically labeling all reported rumors as untrue. Brown also stated his love for Philly and his desire to remain an Eagle. 

Despite how Brown may feel, WIP isn’t in the wrong here. It’s important to remember that talk show hosts aren’t necessarily journalists, they are entertainers. They analyze the relevant news stories of the day and find an entertaining way to give their spin on them. They aren’t there to serve the players, they are there to serve the audience. 

In this specific situation, they also haven’t been making up rumors. Everything they’ve reported on has come from well-respected journalists. There shouldn’t be an expectation that WIP would avoid talking about these rumors because it might make the players upset. After all, it goes both ways. When the Eagles are doing well, WIP and the callers will be the first ones to give them their credit and discuss all the positives. The Eagles dictate what is talked about on the station. The best way Brown can control the narrative around his team is to win football games.

That being said, Brown has a gripe of his own. As detailed above, Brown has often been the one the finger has been pointed at for the late-season collapse. It’s fair to say that some sideline interactions have been taken out of context as well, such as an early season argument between Brown and Hurts during the Vikings game. To fill the void of a lack of answers, media members have theorized that Brown was complaining about a lack of targets, leading to assertions that he is a diva and a bad teammate. 

In reality, those characterizations of him aren’t accurate. Teammates have gone on the record to say that Brown is not a locker room cancer and that the frustrations were never about targets. Brown has stated multiple times that when he is frustrated, it is not because of a lack of individual success but instead it is because of a lack of team success. 

Little changes will be made to the media’s relationship with players, which is perfectly fine. The media’s job is to report on the team and provide entertainment to the fans, which the players should understand. At the same time, the players don’t have to remain silent. It is refreshing to see someone like Brown take his issues with the media directly to WIP. It allows for direct communication and for the ability to hash out disagreements, as well as get each side to better understand where the other side is coming from.

Brown also gained a new level of respect from media members and fans alike. He was transparent in his answers during his appearance and didn’t shy away from being honest when he thought the media was handling their business. All in all, it was well handled by both sides. 

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