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Report: Julio Jones Call Raises Concerns for FOX, NFL

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones’s interview with Shannon Sharpe of FOX Sports’ Undisputed on Monday has reportedly caused concern for the network’s relationship with the NFL, according to Front Office Sports.

Sharpe, who called Jones live on air on Monday, asked the seven-time Pro Bowler if he wanted to stay in Atlanta next season and where he wanted to play.

“I’m out of there,” Jones told Sharpe. “I ain’t going to Dallas, man. I never thought about going to them.”

Per FOS, it was not clear if Jones knew he was live on air with Sharpe along with co-host Skip Bayless. The Falcons had no advance knowledge or input into the interview per FOS. The franchise, however, failed to respond to the incident on Tuesday.

Creative Artists Agency, Jones’s representatives, reached out to FOX about the situation saying that it has become a “huge deal.” FOX recently agreed to pay more than $2 billion a year for 11 seasons to keep its Sunday afternoon NFL TV package.

As an NFL TV partner, this could potentially limit FOX in getting access with the Falcons, access with other teams as well as missing out on premier game matchups. 

According to FOS, the Falcons could seek an on-air apology. Undisputed is also produced out of FOX Sports’ studios in Los Angeles. California is a two-party consent state when it comes to capturing a phone conversation similar to that of Sharpe and Jones.

But, both Jones and Sharpe would have needed prior knowledge of the call being aired and recorded. Sharpe could face a misdemeanor charge for violation of California Penal Code Sec. 632, although a complaint would have to be filed. 

The misdemeanor charge calls for a $2,000 fine and/or a year in jail. A spokesperson from the Los Angeles Police Department told FOS Tuesday that no complaint had been filed.

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Jones, 32, has been in trade rumors since the conclusion of the 2020 season. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Monday that Jones requested a trade from the organization a few months ago and that the team agreed to listen.

Jones signed a three-year, $66 million extension before the 2019 season began with $64 million guaranteed. However, according to CBSSports.com, only one quarter of NFL teams have the cap space to pick up Jones’s salary—who is expected to make more than $15 million in the 2021 season.  

Atlanta finished at the bottom of the NFC South and went 4-12 overall in the 2020 season. The Falcons have not made the playoffs since the 2017 season. Former Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and former head coach Dan Quinn were fired last season after opening the season 0-5.

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