ESPN suspended "SportsCenter" anchor Jemele Hill for two weeks on Monday, the network announced, after Hill violated the company's social media guidelines over the weekend. Hill suggested NFL fans boycott vendors and advertisers associated with the Dallas Cowboys after franchise owner Jerry Jones told players they'd be benched if they demonstrated during the national anthem.
Hill had previously run afoul of network executives in September after she tweeted President Donald Trump was a "white supremacist." White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the remarks "a fireable offense" days later during a press briefing.
ESPN at the time warned Hill her remarks were in violation of the company's policy, but declined to punish her after other anchors threatened not to appear on "SportsCenter" without her. Hill hosts the 6 p.m. hour of the show with Michael Smith.
Over the weekend, Hill made her boycott suggestion on Twitter:
"This play always work. Change happens when advertisers are impacted. If you feel strongly about JJ's statement, boycott his advertisers."
"Or, how about not patronizing the advertisers who support the Cowboys? You can watch and do that, right?"
ESPN's statement called Hill's previous tweet, presumably about Trump, "impulsive" and said her subsequent apology for it acknowledged she was "letting her colleagues and the company down."
The network in September claimed Hill's tweets appeared as though she was speaking on behalf of ESPN. But Hill stood by her tweets, which included one that read, "Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period."
She said in statement afterward that she regretted her words "painted ESPN in an unfair light."
Trump demanded an apology from ESPN for what he called "untruths."
His administration has also taken the NFL on as players have demonstrated during the national anthem in recent weeks. On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence attended an Indianapolis Colts game, but left after "The Star-Spangled Banner" when players from the San Francisco 49ers knelt during the anthem.
Hill joined ESPN in 2006 as a national columnist and made television appearances on "SportsCenter," "First Take," "Around the Horn" and "Outside the Lines." She has been active covering the intersection of sports and race for ESPN. She hosted a town hall meeting with then-President Barack Obama in July 2016 about race relations, policing and racial equality.
She began hosting her own hour of "SportsCenter" in February.
ESPN has a history of harsh punishments for staffers who cross the NFL. The network suspended then fired columnist and TV personality Bill Simmons in 2017 after intense criticism of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.