New England Patriots

Jan 20, 2019; Kansas City, MO: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reacts after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs during overtime in the AFC Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium. (Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)

Jan 20, 2019; Kansas City, MO: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reacts after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs during overtime in the AFC Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium. (Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Pittsburgh-based TV station KDKA has fired producer Michael Telek, who added the words “Known Cheater” to a graphic underneath Tom Brady’s name while the station broadcast the Patriots’ Super Bowl LIII send-off rally.

Telek admitted on Twitter that he made the graphic, which he described as a “joke”. The words ostensibly allude to Brady’s four-game suspension in the wake of DeflateGate, when he sat for four games due to noncooperation in the NFL’s investigation.

Telek may have been able to keep his job if the graphic said something more factual and objective, like “Suspended four games after DeflateGate”. “Known cheater” ventured too far into bias and editorializing, and the fact that he admitted he was trying to make a joke indicates that he may not have been taking his job seriously enough at the time.

Joking or not, Brady’s alleged involvement in the Patriots’ controversies over the years clearly still strikes a chord.

SI first reported Telek’s firing. Here’s the full statement from KDKA-TV:

“While fans are entitled to have personal opinions, we have a journalistic responsibility to provide unbiased reporting. The graphic that appeared Monday violated our news standards. The individual who created the graphic no longer works for KDKA-TV.”

It’s a bit excessive for the station to cut ties with Telek altogether. Perhaps a suspension would’ve sufficed if they really had to discipline him. But at the same time, his “joke” was a clear breach of journalistic integrity and he has no one to blame but himself. It’s likely they heard from a lot of angry Patriots fans about the graphic, which spread quickly on social media after it aired.

Telek also said on Twitter that he’d just bought a house and his firing is “putting a pinch on things”. He’s not likely to get much sympathy from New England fans for that.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.