In the “Monday Night Football” game between the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars, ESPN may have asked the coaches to call timeouts in order to fit in more commercials, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In a post-game press conference, Titans coach Jeff Fisher was asked about his fourth-quarter play calling, and he responded that he was reacting to Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio’s decisions to use timeouts to extend the game.
Fisher claimed that he would have had his quarterback take a knee to let the clock run out as the lopsided win for the Titans was winding down, but Del Rio’s timeouts forced Fisher to run a play instead. The Titans added a touchdown to their total and went on to win 30-3.
Fisher told the media, "My understanding was that we needed some network timeouts, so I think that’s why Jack used his timeouts … because they came over and asked me to do it, and I said, ‘Well, I was hoping to get a first down and kneel on it.’"
ESPN has denied any undue influence. A spokesperson for the network said, "ESPN did not directly or indirectly ask the coaches to take a timeout during the game."
The network runs 20 commercial breaks during a "Monday Night Football" broadcast, and if it doesn’t reach that number, it has to refund the advertisers for the time sold. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league is investigating the matter.