Thanks to a 30-second commercial for a digestion supplement, my indifference toward Erin Andrews, America’s most popular sideline reporter, has blossomed into a bouquet of full-blown contempt, mixed with accents of pity and concern.
The commercial plays like a Saturday Night Live parody. When did “health and wellness enthusiast” become a credible title? Since the spot is geared toward active people, why not hire a sports icon instead of someone whose best-known athletic feat was participating in Dancing With the Stars? But very quickly, the spot takes a mournful turn. Six seconds in, a schmuck ogles Andrews. Three seconds later, another meatball blatantly stares at her ass. All the while, Andrews cheerfully espouses probiotics’ benefits.
Her obliviousness would be funny if it didn’t mask a larger, sadder story.
Andrews, of course, made national headlines in 2009 when a stalker covertly videotaped the former ESPN starlet naked in her hotel room, footage that hit the Internet. It was an awful, unspeakable violation. A distraught Andrews stepped away from her reporting duties before sharing her ordeal with Oprah Winfrey and holding a roundtable with stalking victims on Good Morning America. Three years later, she’s portraying herself as erection fodder. This is not a graceful transition, even if you are lobbying for tougher anti-stalker laws. And it displays a lack of common sense that borders on stupidity.
In a 2011 Marie Claire interview, Andrews said that numerous coaches urged her not to quit after the stalker incident. “’Please come back. Don’t let this idiot win. You are what’s right about our game,’’ Andrews said, summarizing the conversations. “So for all those people who say I’m just a pretty face on the sidelines and I don’t deserve to be there, I thought, This is validation.” The commercial dampens that spirited response, showing that she’s perfectly content being the “hot” sports reporter. Given Andrews’s past torment and that she’s now 34 years old, how much longer do we play along? At some point, someone younger and hotter will divert sports fans’ attention. Someone may arrive with charisma and formidable reporting skills. And it has already happened. Before Andrews left ESPN for FOX Sports, her star power dimmed thanks to the arrival of SportsNation co-host Michelle Beadle, 36, whose enthusiasm and warm wit made the insufferable Colin Cowherd tolerable.
Beadle, who has made no secret of her disdain for Andrews, recently signed with NBC, where she will co-host Access Hollywood. It’s the kind of plum gig Andrews probably dreams about. And it’s one she will likely never get. According to sports media reporter John Koblin, two weeks before Andrews’ ESPN contract expired there was no interest from other networks. “She can’t host,” an executive at a rival TV sports network told Koblin. “There’s no next step. And she wants more than sideline reporting, but there’s no next step.” In fact, ESPN did not try too hard to keep Andrews, Koblin wrote in a later post for Deadspin:
Two sources told us that ESPN offered Andrews more money to stay (one said it was a big pay increase; another said it was OK-ish). But the one thing ESPN wasn’t giving her: additional responsibility. The network didn’t trust her to host; she had already been passed over for the Monday Night Football sideline job, which went to Lisa Salters. She already blew her chance with Good Morning America.
Did she ever. Here’s an evaluation from Koblin, who quoted an ABC News source as saying there was no chance Andrews would work full-time for the venerable morning show:
One of her last appearances on GMA may have been the one that sealed her fate. Andrews came on to discuss helmet-to-helmet hits in the NFL and safety issues in college football (this was in October 2010, three days after Rutgers DT Eric LeGrand was paralyzed). Little flubs piled on top of one another. In an interview with Robin Roberts, she referred to the Buffalo Bills as the Buffalo Bulls (before quickly correcting herself), described Tony Dungy as a “respectable”—not “respected”—former head coach, and generally labored her way through the segment (she quoted an NFL executive as saying, “This weekend just put everything into place,” when she probably wanted to go with “perspective”). It was tough to watch.
I am a heterosexual man. I am a sports fan. I am aware that attacking Andrews violates the sports fan agreement/bro code/dude doctrine that makes her part of the game, like tailgating or face paint. But I can’t act like a perpetually happy moron—A pretty girl! Who loves sports! Go team!—while Andrews talks out of both sides of her mouth, seemingly unaware that she’s no more than a placeholder for the next pretty face. (I hope her successor has an exit strategy established before desperation sets in.) I can’t honor her request to be taken seriously when she’s offered no reason to. Simply put, Erin Andrews takes the fun out of sports for me. Given her recent work as a spokesperson, I doubt she’ll grasp the irony.