“Julio! I gotcha, it’s your favorite uncle. What’s going on, bruh?” Those were the infamous starting lines of a controversial event about to take place. It seems uncalled for, a veteran ex-football player and sports analyst making a phone call to an under-contract player about trade rumors. It’s one thing to talk about such things privately, but he chose to do it on live TV! There could have been consequences for his actions. Recording someone without their consent is a misdemeanor that could result in fines and jail time. It’s just part of his recent controversies and dustups. Let us get more into it.
Photo Cred: Wikipedia
Regarding the matter in the introduction, the player involved was former Atlanta Falcon Julio Jones. He was the subject of trade rumors in the 2021 offseason, and it seemed likely that he’d leave Atlanta. He had two hamstring injuries in a season that only allowed him to play nine games. Jones managed to get 51 receptions for 771 yards and three touchdowns. It was his worst season since he only played five games in 2013, but it was great for a nine-game stretch. After a fantastic 10-year tenure, it was disappointing to see him leave, especially in this manner. Maybe three straight losing seasons made him change his mind (7-9, 7-9, 4-12). Going 0-5 to start a season, which caused the HC and GM to get fired, may also not be appealing.
Photo Cred: Sports Illustrated
Then came the infamous day when the “favorite uncle” quote was made. On March 24th, 2021, Sharpe called Jones live on the set of Skip and Shannon: Undisputed. Sharpe went on to ask “you want to go to the Cowboys, Julio? Or you want to stay in Atlanta?” Jones replied, “Nah, I’m outta there, man.” Normally, people in the sports world asking pending free agents or those involved in trade rumors about their next destination shouldn’t be an issue. The caveat is that it’s done privately, and the news isn’t public unless the player says so/is ok with it. What Sharpe did was unacceptable and quite possibly illegal.
Something like this can put a player in a very compromising situation, as now they must address it with their team and other media sources. Jones is regretful for how things played out, but he could have put Sharpe into a lot of legal trouble if he pressed charges. California is a two-party consent state; on-air conversations cannot be recorded unless both parties agree. If Jones didn’t know he was on-air, Sharpe could’ve been charged with a misdemeanor (California Penal Code Sec. 632), which could be a $2000 fine and/or a year in jail.
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Additionally, the NFL and the Falcons themselves will have issues with the phone call. Fox Sports, which employs Sharpe, could’ve faced issues with their broadcast deal with the NFL. As a result of Sharpe’s actions, they could have gotten low-rated game matchups, less access to, and less cooperation from the NFL and all 30 teams. Atlanta believed this call could’ve undercut their negotiating position, as they couldn’t possibly drive up the asking price in a Jones trade. They could have wanted some retribution in Sharpe’s or Fox Sports’ ways.
While this event could’ve turned out to be more serious than it ended up being, the next one still doesn’t paint Sharpe in a good light. Kevin Durant, a Brooklyn Net, called out Sharpe because of a false quote that he didn’t say. Durant responded to a tweet that had a screenshot of the fake quote calling out gullible fans who chose to believe Sharpe. Instead of directly addressing the situation first, Sharpe decided to throw jabs at Durant.
Photo Cred: Lakers Daily
Durant was miffed that Sharpe still wasn’t addressing the issue. It took that tweet for Sharpe to respond, saying he didn’t want to address their differences on social media. I feel like that was the coward’s way out, as he was the one to instigate social media jabs to start! Durant wanted to keep going, but Sharpe wanted none of it. The closing tweet showed that Sharpe had blocked Durant on Twitter.
You would think Sharpe would’ve learned his lesson by now. The Twitter jabs with Durant happened a month before the ill-fated phone call to Jones. He likes to call himself “your favorite TV uncle” but he doesn’t act professionally at times. I will admit that these two controversies have been the only questionable events recently, but they could’ve been avoided. Using fake quotes and publicizing a phone call of someone involved in trade rumors isn’t the way to do things. I don’t know whether Durant and Sharpe resolved their issues or not, but Jones did respond to his incident. Jones, through Chris Simms, was disappointed in how things went down. He had no idea that he was on air on the day of the phone call. Simms talked about this in an interview with Mike Florio on NBC Sport’s PFT Live.
Photo Cred: Twitter
Personal Note: I might have targeted Sharpe specifically for the phone call gaffe. However, co-host Skip Bayless and the rest of the crew shouldn’t be let off the hook either. Bayless wanted to see Julio Jones pick up the call and answer Sharpe’s questions. This type of behavior should not be condoned. Sharpe could’ve been facing legal issues, but the rest of the crew that day should’ve known the consequences of these actions.