New York, NY — Attorneys for the New York Jets, New York Yankees and New York Knicks filed an order of protection in federal court on Wednesday against sports media giant ESPN, citing an “unnatural and downright creepy amount of attention” heaped upon the franchises by the billion-dollar media conglomerate’s broadcast, web and print outlets in recent years.
The target of claims of ‘East Coast bias’ for decades, ESPN has ramped up their coverage of New York’s professional sports teams in recent years to a level even the franchises themselves find disconcerting.
Executives from the three famous franchises presented federal judge Barry Vento with 712 boxes of documents and recordings reportedly detailing ESPN’s harassing and invasive behavior since January 2011. Included in the evidence was a video of Chris Berman shaving the Jets logo in his back hair, as well as 42 emails from Buster Olney to Yankees manager Joe Girardi offering to repave his driveway for free.
If signed, the proposed restraining order would prevent all ESPN employees from engaging in a wide array of activities currently in practice, including:
dedicating more than 82% of their allotted broadcast, web or print space to the Knicks, Yankees or Jets on any given day mentioning Tim Tebow’s chances of starting at quarterback for the Jets during tennis or boxing coverage emailing or texting photos of Stephen A. Smith wearing a Knicks jersey, and nothing else, to Carmelo Anthony and/or Amare Stoudemire
replacing all references to Jesus with “Jeter” in hotel Bibles using the television sports crawl to list the lyrics to the Jets fight song offering unsolicited blood transfusions to Yankees pitchers or their families
Yankees co-owner Hal Steinbrenner approached his football and basketball peers about the tri-partisan restraining order against ESPN back in April. Hesitant at first, the Jets and Knicks ownership groups eventually relented to Steinbrenner’s urging after watching a record 94 straight SportsCenter broadcasts lead off with news about Rex Ryan’s favorite desserts.
“It’s a well-known fact that the Yankees believe the world revolves around our organization, but even we are uncomfortable with ESPN’s constant ass-kissing?” said Steinbrenner. “Leading off every program with Yankee game-coverage is one thing. The smiley-face texts, late-night drunk dials, Facebook ‘pokes’ and singing telegrams are something completely different. Can you say ‘awkward’?”
New York Jets owner Woody Johnson took his concerns one step further, asserting that the media company’s behavior was bordering on psychotic and made Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs look downright cuddly.
“More than anything, this entire situation has become a significant safety issue for our athletes and staff,” said Johnson while using an employee as a chair. “We certainly appreciate the coverage we receive on the network’s various outlets throughout the year. That said, having Mike Greenberg from Mike & Mike in the Morning show up uninvited at your grandson’s Baptism is taking things a bit too far.”
Many of ESPN’s high-profile personalities were visibly shaken by Wednesday’s court action, with several tearing off their Mark Sanchez undershirts and running around the offices screaming and waving their arms. Others simply fell to the floor and wept.
“I went over to Robinson Cano’s house last night [sniff] to sleep on his lawn — just like every Tuesday night — and he called the police on me,” said a visibly shaken Skip Bayless, openly weeping into his Santonio Holmes-autographed handkerchief. “All I’ve ever wanted to do [sniff] is endlessly praise each and every insignificant move made by a New York athlete or team, and I’m being painted as some [voice cracking] pathetic stalker.”
ESPN president John Skipper defended the media group’s constant coverage of the Jets, Knicks and Yankees, arguing that it is the responsibility of journalists everywhere to beat their audiences into submission with repetitive and often-irrelevant coverage of the three major professional sports in New York.
“One of the things that makes this nation the envy of all others is the largely unfettered freedom we extend to the media,” said Skipper. “While we understand and respect the concerns of the Yankees, Jets and Knicks, we will continue to bury our noses up the asses of these franchises, their athletes and their fans, both literally and figuratively, whether they like it or not. It’s what we do, and we take pride in the fact that nobody does it better.”
Meanwhile, in an attempt to head off employee suicide attempts, ESPN executives gave all staff members the rest of the week off in order to gather their thoughts. In the absence of their regularly scheduled programming, all network channels will be running a repeating loop of Yankees back-up infielder Jayson Nix leaning against the dugout railing.
Responses from the dozens of rarely covered sports franchises across the rest of the country were those of both surprise and muted sympathy.
“I’d like to say I feel the Yankees’ pain, but we can’t even get ESPN to officially acknowledge we exist,” said Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington. “Our club has been in first place for longer than three weeks for the first time since Whitesnake was making hits, and our game recap on SportsCenter last night consisted of three seconds of former-Yankee A.J. Burnett eating sunflower seeds in the dugout. And he wasn’t even pitching.”
In related news, the New York Rangers left several messages with ESPN on Thursday offering unlimited access to the organization and its athletes. ESPN has yet to return their calls.