On Thursday morning, WNBA star Brittney Griner was stanched to nine years in a Russian prison on drug possession charges.
A few hours later, James Palmer of NFL Network made an insensitive joke about Russian prisons, while standing with NFL insider Ian Rapport said, “If Ian think she can survive in a. Russian prison, which apparently he believes, a tackle from Nathaniel Hackett is the least of his problems, Palmer said.
The third member of the team, Andrew Siciliano appeared to be surprised by the comment from Palmer. Rapoport made it clear he and Palmer were having a conversation about Russian prisons off-air and looked very uncomfortable as Palmer was revealing the off-air conversation:
Griner had been detained in the country since February for allegedly possessing cannabis oil at the Moscow airport. The offense can net her up to 10 years in a Russian federal prison.
Griner issued a guilty plea to a Russian court on July 7 and also included an ask for mercy from the judge. Griner claimed that, while she did commit the crime, she did so inadvertently.
She made another statement Thursday ahead of her verdict.
“I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here,” Griner said, via CNN. “I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that that is far from this courtroom.
“I want to say again that I had no intent on breaking any Russian laws,” she said. “I had no intent. I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime.”
More than 150 days into her Russian detention, the United States Government offered a deal with the Kremlin in exchange for Griner on July 27, as well as fellow American detainee Paul Whelan, per U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.