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Andrea Kremer senses no limitations to working for NFL

Seattle Seahawks v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 19: NBC commenator Andrea Kremer reports from the sidelines as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Seattle Seahawks at Raymond James Stadium on October 19, 2008 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

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Earlier this year, after former NFL Media reporter Albert Breer went public with his concerns about the stories he couldn’t tell while working for the league, the NFL remained conspicuously silent. Several months later, a current NFL Media reporter has weighed in on the issue.

In an interview with Jeff Pearlman (via SportsBusiness Daily), Andrea Kremer said she has had no issues in her four years working directly for the league.

“When I joined the network in 2012 as chief correspondent, player health and safety I was told unequivocally that I would have the freedom to tell stories that might raise some eyebrows at 345 Park Avenue but my bosses would have my back as long as we were fair and captured both sides of the issue, a no brainer for me since that is the root of journalism, right?” Kremer.

That’s a fair point, as long as the reporter’s view of fairness meshes with the opinions of the reporter’s employer. The process becomes more delicate when the reporter’s employer is also the reporter’s subject.

“I feel I’ve never been asked to compromise my journalistic ethics working at NFL Media,” Kremer said. “In recent years the scope of what I cover for them has broadened . . . so I have hosted coaches’ roundtables, news shows at the Super Bowl plus a once-in-a-career opportunity -- chronicling Darrelle Revis’ year long comeback from his torn ACL. This was a first, which I’m proud to say turned into A Football Life documentary. Let’s be real, NFL Network is not Real Sports [With Bryant Gumbel] and I feel lucky that I get to work for NFLN as well as HBO in addition to co-hosting the first all female talk show, We Need to Talk on CBSSN, a troika of jobs that provides the creative and journalistic challenges and outlets that I crave.”

Kremer has unique status among NFL Media reporters, however. She possesses the tenure, reputation, and career options that insulate her from the pressures that other reporters who have only one media job may feel. If anyone tries to muzzle Kremer or in any way shape her coverage, she can push back aggressively -- knowing that the worst-case scenario will nevertheless leave her with other viable options in the media, and possibly more of them. For that reason alone, chances are she’ll never be pressured by anyone within the NFL.

She also seems to realize that certain stories are better suited to a truly independent outlet, as evidenced by her concession that NFL Network isn’t Real Sports, the most respected sports news show on TV. If, for example, she were inclined to do a piece on workplace violence in football, it would be prudent not to pitch the concept to NFL Network in her capacity as chief correspondent for player health and safety -- especially since one of NFL Network’s primary analysts would have to be mentioned in the story because he once (according to Pearlman’s own book, Boys Will Be Boys) stabbed a teammate in the neck with scissors.

So of course there are limitations to what reporters employed by NFL Media can do. Their checks, after all, are signed by Roger Goodell.

And, yes, it’s a little awkward for me to point out from time to time the inherent lack of independence for any reporters who work for NFL Media. People at NFL Media don’t like it, and some haven’t been bashful about letting me know that directly.

Curiously, reporters who don’t work for NFL Media also get uncomfortable when these issues arise, primarily because the mere existence of league- and team-owned media outlets creates more jobs. Take those jobs away, and all of a sudden there would be even more competition within an already competitive industry.