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NFL Network harassment lawsuit names executive, ex-players

December 11, 2017

A former executive producer at the National Football League’s TV network and ex-players including Marshall Faulk and Heath Evans allegedly groped and made sexually explicit comments to female colleague Jami Cantor, according to an amended complaint by Cantor, a former employee.

The allegations against the retired players and Eric Weinberger, who’s now president of sports commentator Bill Simmons’s media group, are part of a lawsuit against NFL Enterprises in Los Angeles Superior Court. The amended complaint filed Monday detailed specific acts of harassment by several individuals who aren’t named as defendants.

Cantor, a wardrobe stylist at the NFL Network, said Weinberger sent “several nude pictures of himself and sexually explicit texts” and told her she was “put on earth to pleasure me.” He also pressed his crotch against Cantor’s shoulder and asked her to touch it, according to the complaint.

She said she was also sexually harassed by on-air talent. Faulk, a former Indianapolis Colts running back who’s an NFL Network analyst, would ask Cantor “deeply personal and invasive questions” about her sex life and fondled her breasts and groped her behind, according to the complaint.

Faulk, who played for the Colts from 1994 to 1998, was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2011.

Inappropriate photos

Ike Taylor, also an analyst, sent Cantor “sexually inappropriate” pictures of himself and a video of him masturbating in the shower, according to the filing. Donovan McNabb, a former analyst, also texted her explicit comments, according to the compliant.

Alex Riethmiller, a spokesman for the NFL Network, said Faulk, Taylor and Evans have been suspended from their duties pending an investigation into the allegations.

Weinberger hung up the phone when reached for comment. Joel Segal, who represents Taylor, didn’t immediately return a voicemail seeking comment. Jordan Bazant, who represents Faulk and Evans, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations. Representatives for McNabb didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Cantor first filed her case in October, claiming wrongful termination. Laura Horton, a lawyer for Cantor, said by phone “it’s outrageous conduct and I fully intend to hold the NFL Network responsible.”

While men across politics, media, entertainment and the technology industry have been fired over allegations of sexual harassment, there have been few recent high-profile cases in the sports world.

Live programming

Simmons, whose media properties include the website the Ringer, has praised Weinberger in the past. “He’s a talented guy with an impeccable reputation, someone who is uniquely equipped to help me build an innovative multimedia company from scratch,” Simmons said in a 2015 statement announcing Weinberger’s hiring.

“I know from experience that you’re only as good as the people around you, and Eric is one of the very best,” he said at the time. At the NFL Network, Weinberger helped create and oversee the network’s live programming, according to the statement.

Simmons didn’t respond to an email Monday seeking comment on the allegations.

Cantor said she complained about the sexual advances from former NFL players to Marc Watts, the league’s talent coordinator, but he did nothing and said, “It’s part of the job when you look the way you do,” according to the complaint. Watts didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

She said she also complained about other working conditions at the network, including a failure to reimburse her for expenses and a lack of compensation for the hours she worked. She was terminated by her supervisor at the NFL in October 2016, when she was 51, and replaced by a 30-year-old, according to the complaint.

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