Charissa Thompson: NFL broadcaster apologises for saying she made up reports

Charissa Thompson at a game earlier this month
Charissa Thompson now works primarily as a host for both Fox Sports and Amazon

An NFL broadcaster has apologised after she admitted making up reports while working as a sideline reporter early in her career.

"I haven't been fired for saying it... I would make up the report sometimes," Charissa Thompson said on a podcast released earlier this week.

Her comments triggered an angry backlash from some fans as well as others who work in sports coverage.

On Friday, the host said she had chosen "the wrong words" and "never lied".

"I understand how important words are and I chose the wrong words to describe the situation," she wrote in a statement posted to Instagram. "I'm sorry. I have never lied about anything or been unethical during my time as a sports broadcaster."

"In the absence of a coach providing any information that could further my report I would use information that I learned and saw during the first half," she said.

Sideline reporters play a key role in American football broadcasts by giving live updates from on or near the field. They often share details coaches tell them during the course of the game.

Ms Thompson, 41, now works primarily as a host for both Fox Sports and Amazon.

Speaking to Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast on Tuesday, Ms Thompson said sometimes "the coach wouldn't come out at halftime, or it was too late and I didn't want to screw up the report. So I was like, I'm just going to make this up".

She added that she would often rely on clichés in those moments.

"No coach is going to get mad if I say, 'Hey, we need to stop hurting ourselves... and do a better job of getting off the field," she said. "They're not going to correct me on that."

Laura Okmin, a Fox Sports colleague and the third-longest-tenured sideline reporter in league history, criticised Ms Thompson in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

"The privilege of a sideline role is being the one person in the entire world who has the opportunity to ask coaches what's happening in that moment," she wrote.

"I can't express the amount of time it takes to build that trust," she added.

Molly McGrath, a Sports Emmy nominated ESPN college football reporter, warned young journalists such behaviour was "not normal or ethical".

"Coaches and players trust us with sensitive information, and if they know that you're dishonest and don't take your role seriously, you've lost all trust and credibility," she said.

Morgan Uber, of ESPN, said Ms Thompson's comments undermined other women "in a profession that is already stereotyped as just being eye candy".

"Good sideline reporters do their homework, talk to players and coaches throughout the week and on game day and most definitely don't make up reports," she said.

Representatives for Fox Sports and Amazon Prime did not respond to the BBC's request for comment.