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Joe Johnson’s Public Statement/Clarification Regarding the Andy Carlson/PurpleFTW! Situation

Note: The following is a statement from the owner of the purpleTERRITORY Network. Joe Johnson. And is based on public information, public admissions by Andy Carlson (a public figure) and thus is a reaction to what is public rather than what is public and alleged. This is also thorough and repetitive to reinforce what this is and isn’t. It will also be the only public statement, hopefully, needed to explain the loose affiliation between our content networks and my feelings on this, how it affects my brand and what it means for the industry.

Hello.

My name is Joe Johnson and I’m the owner of the purpleTERRITORY Network. That network includes purplePTSD.com (started in May of 2015), VikingsTerritory.com (purchased around July of 2017) and purpleTERRITORYradio.com (started in April of this year). Over the weekend certain behaviors by Andy Carlson, of the industry-leading Vikings podcast, purpleFTW! came to light and he responded to the situation Sunday night. As someone who is loosely affiliated with purpleFTW! as the show used to be posted on VikingsTerritory.com (before and around the time I purchased it in 2017) and because you will still see “Brought to you by VikingsTerritory.com”, I have to make a couple of things clear as it relates to our business relationship as well as someone who has advocated and been very open about my own struggles with depression, anxiety, PTSD and substance abuse and recovery.

That having been said, I will not be posting the screenshots that were posted on Twitter here out of respect for those who posted them, but you can find them if you’d like and also read Andy’s Sunday night statement which makes it clear that at least the online behavior that was screenshotted and posted is something that he is not denying. The rest of what was accused as part of this, I want to make clear, is alleged and not part of the following thoughts. I also need to make it clear that I/we believe in due process and want to make it clear that I am only referring to what was publicly posted and “apologized”/justified in the statement by Carlson but also am not going to allow my statement to be used as validation for the justifications posted in the statement.

First, some quick context.

While abhorred by the situation I originally intended to not say anything officially as our network exists to provide free daily content to Vikings fans and as he is not a player or coach, it felt like something we shouldn’t cover. However, I realized that Andy was still listed as one of our contributors on our contact page and that a lot of podcast networks have either “Brought to you by VikingsTerritory.com” or “Part of the VikingsTerritory.com Network” in the bio/description for purpleFTW! and as I worked on scrubbing any affiliation with his show from the internet I felt that it was important that we clarified the working relationship (or lack thereof) with purpleFTW! as a business, and to release a broader statement about the situation as this is much larger than just how it affects my business interests.

I purchased VikingsTerritory.com before training camp in 2017 after working with the previous owners for about a year. At the time purpleFTW! was being posted on the site and Andy was listed as a contributor (and he still was listed as one up until Sunday night). However, due to some irrelevant business stuff purpleFTW! stopped being posted/hosted on VT a month or two after the purchase. I did, however, work with purpleFTW! for about six months after that, selling one or two ad spots for them. So, we haven’t had a relationship with purpleFTW! since the fall of 2017 as a site and as a salesperson I haven’t sold any of their inventory since the beginning of 2018. I have kept in touch and also recently attempted to add FTW! to our podcast platform, purpleTERRITORYradio.com. But I hadn’t heard back as we hadn’t spoken for a while.

I have a strong feeling it will either fall on deaf ears or create some sort of flame war, so I want to emphasize that I personally and we at purpleTERRITORY support the LGBT community and I DO NOT think it is fair or right to conflate ones sexual orientation with what is public and begrudgingly “apologized” for as the two have nothing to do with one another, at least in terms of defending the indefensible.

I also DO NOT believe in flame wars or creating or contributing to a “mob mentality” and are not attempting to benefit from an awful situation. I am not telling people what to think. I am not telling anyone to do anything (boycott, etc.). I am simply making clear my thoughts as the owner of a network that is loosely affiliated with purpleFTW! and also hopefully providing some context as I feel that Carlson has been blocking/deleting comments that share the public information, the same information he admitted to in his apology and thus his audience is interpreting this as him coming out and getting attacked for it which again, is not what I’m doing.

I feel that people should make decisions based on public information and that if one is genuine in their apology they’d not respond this way. I also don’t intend to respond after this statement and am thus being as thorough (and purposefully repetitive) as possible while attempting to avoid any potential validation that this article could be construed as. Therefore, and unfortunately, I am addressing the potential narrative provided in the statement to ensure that it is CLEAR that I am responding to public information that was addressed and admitted to, not any of the smoke screens in the statement (homophobia, SJW mobs, etc.). I also really don’t want to be doing this. It’s dominated my last two days. But I think it’s incredibly important that someone, even as barely known as me, says something so people know that this type of behavior (public/admitted to) is not something that should be tolerated or allowed in our industry. If that hurts my business, I am comfortable as I strongly believe this is the right thing to do.

We have writers (and an owner) that have dealt with and are currently dealing with mental health issues and are in recovery from substance abuse issues. That also is not an excuse for ANY of the admitted or alleged behavior that was posted over the weekend. It can contribute, but it shouldn’t be used as a justification nor as a shield. As millions of people are dealing with similar situations and don’t act the way that Andy has apologized for or explained away as overcompensation for sexual identity issues. I’ve had three concussions in my life from playing hockey my entire youth. That also does not explain the public and admitted behavior.

As a straight white man, I don’t want to diminish how important and awful coming out is and can be and that I am not diminishing that or even pretending I have any idea what that is like. I haven’t had that experience so I am not trying to say that it’s easy or that there isn’t bigotry in the world. There is. But as we found with Kevin Spacey, it isn’t fair to those who have struggled and continue to struggle or deal with that bigotry and discrimination to equate bisexuality with the behavior both apologized for and alleged. Nor is it fair to equate mental health or substance abuse. purplePTSD.com was like the phoenix that raised from my struggles with PTSD, anxiety, and depression. I’ve been very open about my recovery from that as well as my struggles and recovery from alcohol and substance abuse (six years sober last April! Sober for 9.5 of the past 10 years!). I think that it’s unfair to use that as a reason and it also stigmatizes those who struggle with similar issues but don’t act in the fashion that was again, publicly posted and admitted to.

It’s my brand. My brand is very important to me. I’ve worked for people who don’t treat people kindly and I’ve always strived to do business the right way and with people that I think are doing things the right way. Because of that, and the fact that ‘Brought to you by VikingsTerritory.com’ may be in the bio of purpleFTW! on a ton of podcast sites in perpetuity, I need to make it clear that not only are we not working with purpleFTW! but we won’t in the future and that I am adamantly against both the behavior shown in those screenshots and subsequently apologized for and angrily explained away, as well as the other alleged behavior(s).

So, I need to make it clear that this has nothing to do with him coming out as bisexual. We support that and as someone who has spoken with Andy I feel bad that he didn’t feel comfortable letting me know that he was struggling with mental health/substance abuse issues. While we were never that close, I have been pretty open about my past and have spoken with a lot of people online who I don’t know IRL (mostly via Reddit) about these issues because talking to someone really helps.

I’ve also found that the Viking’s content industry is very welcoming and surprisingly small. Despite the “hyper-masculine” comment in Carlson’s statement, I’ve found that most content creators are like me. Nerdy and accepting. We’re not a bunch of John Hughes’ esque Jocks, but rather mostly IT guys, creative types and millennials who are open to all ways of life (as long as that doesn’t hurt other people). I strongly feel like Carlson’s statement, while apologetic in one part, is troubling.

75% of the comment is essentially angry justifications that vary from one label to the next while basically saying, “How dare you criticize me” while also attempting to frame that criticism as homophobia or some politically motivated SJW mob justice or an attempt to hurt his dad’s last name? Sometimes bad behavior is real. Sometimes the criticism is real. If you’re sorry and say you want to do better, you also won’t angrily respond to those who have tried to hold you accountable. You’ll understand that criticism and use it to grow, you won’t label it as ten things it isn’t and end your apology with “I’m tired of hiding who I am”. It doesn’t work that way, and the main reason my response is so long and thorough is that this all reads like someone trying to get away with bad behavior they’ve admitted to and I need to ensure I cover all those angles so this isn’t used to further a narrative that I feel is repugnant and extremely worrisome. So I realize and apologize for my repetition but I would HATE for this to contribute to any sort of defense for the publicly admitted to behavior.

Due process is very important and I believe that the #MeToo movement has lost steam and credibility by turning into a roaming mob that ruins lives/careers before actually having tangible proof. It’s important that I say this because I know that this isn’t one of those situations. I am responding to the publicly shared evidence and Carlson’s, who is a public figure, response (and admission) to it. The rest is alleged and is not something I’m referencing but is something that you can find on Twitter. I again feel like the narrative has been changed and that’s not something that I believe is synonymous with an apology or “doing better”. I really did not want to do this but also felt that, again, someone that’s at least in the same industry (albeit much less well known) should clarify that we aren’t okay with any of this and again, as my site will be associated with purpleFTW! I have to speak up, make my position clear, and hopefully let people know why we’ll most likely continue to be listed as a host for purpleFTW!

I also am not telling you what to think or what to do. Outside of telling or asking you to NOT engage in some sort of mob justice. This is much larger than that and I do believe that the consequences of this should be up to the appropriate people (those who posted the evidence and whomever they believe should be involved). I do NOT want to get into a flame war with purpleFTW! and am being thorough in my statement because I fully intend on this being my only statement on this matter. So. I implore you to withhold judgment until you see the public evidence and Carlson’s admission of that behavior.

This is not why the site exists or what we’re about so hopefully we can now focus on what we’re here for the Vikings. I apologize that this had to be done and for any past affiliation or support provided to purpleFTW! as if I/we even contributed one iota of support, even unintentionally, is awful and is something that I am genuinely sick over.

I appreciate your time in reading this and again want to make it clear that this is MY statement and doesn’t represent the entire network of writers on any of our sites. This will be my only statement on the sites about this, as well.

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Joe Johnson

Joe Johnson started purplePTSD.com back in May of 2015 and has talked Vikings online since the advent of the internet, namely on Reddit's /r/MinnesotaVikings section under the username p_U_c_K. He purchased VikingsTerritory.com before the 2017-18 season, used to write for VikingsJournal.com and is the host of the purpleJOURNAL Podcast, as well.

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