— Former ESPN analyst and longtime critic of ESPN, Dan Graziano, is suing the network and the company he founded for $1 billion.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in Los Angeles, Grazio alleges ESPN and its senior vice president, Dan Baumgartner, have engaged in a “despicable and malicious conspiracy” to silence him for criticizing ESPN’s handling of the scandal surrounding former University of Phoenix coach Jack Del Rio.
In the suit, filed in Los Gatos, California, Gavrizian claims that he was “stunned, outraged and appalled” to discover a video, which he says was shot by a member of the public, that featured Del Rio’s comments about the death of former 49ers quarterback Peyton Manning.
The video is titled “Disgracefully DisgraceFUL,” and is posted on the ESPN website.
In it, Del Rio says the NFL and its owners should “take a knee” during the national anthem in protest of what he called “bullying” of minorities.
According to the lawsuit, Delro’s comments were “disgusting” and “inappropriate,” and that ESPN “ignored” the “threats of death” and a “very real” danger to the public’s safety.
Graziano was one of ESPN’s most vocal critics of the network’s handling, which included firing Del Rio and his family.
He has called for ESPN to be taken off the NFL’s national anthem list and for ESPN executives to be fired.
The company did not respond to requests for comment.
Grazio is seeking compensatory damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of profits.
The lawsuit is seeking a jury trial, as well as unspecified punitive damages.
In an email, ESPN spokesperson Kristin D’Errico said the company stands behind its decision to remove Del Rio from its national anthem-related programming.
“Our goal is to continue our role as a catalyst for change and bring more empathy and compassion to the football community and to all people,” D’Enrico wrote.
“As we have previously said, we stand by our decision and will continue to be an advocate for those who disagree with our stance.”