The Carolina Panthers’ Spanish-language radio announcer, Luis Moreno Jr., did not return to the broadcast booth this season, a move he says was caused by his public support for President Donald Trump.
Moreno, a Mexican immigrant who in August became an American citizen, has been an open advocate for Trump and the QAnon conspiracy theory on his personal Twitter account since March.
“This has nothing to do with my performance on-air. This has nothing to do with how good I am at what I do,” Moreno told the Charlotte Observer.
Moreno has not previously been outspoken about politics. However, upon the start of quarantine in March, he began engaging with more political and pro-Trump content online, according to the Observer. He first expressed his support for the president publicly in April with a retweet from his personal twitter account.
The announcer was first contacted by Eric Fiddleman, the radio and television affiliate manager for the Panthers, after that April retweet. Fiddleman allegedly told Moreno the Panthers wanted him to remove any mentions of the team from his bios on his personal social media accounts. Moreno complied without incident, and a few weeks later added pro-Trump and pro-QAnon hashtags to his bio. (RELATED: Report: NFL Coaches Warned To Wear Masks Properly During Games Or Face Discipline)
Later in the summer, Fiddleman again contacted Moreno to tell him that the Panthers’ vice-president of communications and external affairs, Steven Drummond, wanted to speak with him. The concern was allegedly about Moreno’s social media activity once again. Moreno says he told Fiddleman he would not stop supporting the president, and that Drummond should give him a call. He also emailed Drummond asking to speak with him, but he never heard back from anyone with the Panthers, according to Moreno and the Observer.
Speaking to the Daily Caller, Moreno said it was “irresponsible” for anyone to attribute the Panthers’ “attempts to censor” him to his support for the QAnon conspiracy theory. Moreno claims the issue that led to his falling out with the league was his support for the president more than anything else. Neither Drummond, Fiddleman, nor the Panthers offered comment when contacted by the Observer or the Daily Caller.
The Spanish-language broadcaster objected to being policed over his personal social media activity despite being an independent contractor who had not yet re-signed for the 2020 season at the time, he told the Observer. Moreno also clarified later on Twitter that he was first asked about his Twitter activity before changing his bio to reflect support for QAnon.
Eventhough I’m an independent contractor, who wasn’t under contract, I complied and changed my profile information. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I replaced my bio info with multiple hashtags, including one related to Q.
-: LUIS F. MORENO JR: 6% Speak: LuisJr40 (@ luisjr40) September 15, 2020
NFL players held a “moment of unity“ prior to the season opener between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans on Thursday, sparking backlash from some fans. Other players kneeled for the national anthem, while some wore the names of black Americans killed by police on their uniforms. TV ratings for the season opener were down more than 12% from last year.