NFL reporters make light of Brittney Griner’s nine-year Russian prison sentence

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Just after WNBA star Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison, NFL reporters Ian Rapoport and James Palmer make light of her sentence.

Even though NFL training camps are in full swing, the on-air talent still felt they needed to fill space with their off-air conversations. Soon enough, NFL reporters Ian Rapoport, James Palmer and Andrew Siciliano will probably wish they kept their commercial break conversation off the air, as they’re now under a lot of fire for making light of one of the most harrowing headlines in sports today.

Right after news broke that WNBA Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison, Palmer joked about how Rapoport bragged about being able to survive in a Russian prison. The timing is suspicious, given the publication of Griner’s sentence, which means Griner’s fate was somehow turned into a hard-fought game of who could win their own “Locked Up Abroad” challenge.

For Rapoport to assume he would be fine in Russian prison is not only insensitive—it’s implausible. Rapoport and his American co-hosts are so far removed from the reality that Griner and other detained Americans in Russia currently face.

James Palmer, Ian Rapoport joke about surviving Russian prison after Brittney Griner sentencing

Aside from what Rapoport imagines “surviving” a Russian prison entails, this much is certain: Rapoport would be facing a foreign prison system without legal assistance or jurisdiction from the United States. That means, depending on the crime, Rapoport could potentially face a decade or more in prison without the possibility of parole, as Griner and Paul Whelan are right now.

Rapoport would be removed from the comforts of her day job, her lucrative NFL media salary and her family and loved ones, just as Olympic medalist and WNBA champion Griner remains for now.

In her emotional pre-sentence plea and in the letter she recently wrote to President Biden, Griner made it clear that surviving in a Russian prison while facing a terrifying decades-long sentence is terrifying.

For anyone to make light of what Griner now faces — in addition to the other Americans in her situation — is not something that should be made into a game.

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