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Michelle Beadle returns to ESPN ‘SportsNation’ with great pirate quote

Michelle Beadle pirate

Michelle Beadle returned to ESPN show “SportsNation” on Monday after a two-year absence, and she came back with her typical flare.

Beadle left ESPN for NBC Sports two years ago and served in a variety of roles. She worked on “Access Hollywood,” hosted “The Crossover” on NBC Sports Network, and did a number of other things for the network, such as interviews and reporting for other sporting events. But things didn’t go as well as she’d hoped, and now she’s back with ESPN.

“I’ve missed the everyday fun of this show and this group so when given the chance to reunite, I got here as fast as I could,” said Beadle in a quote released by ESPN. “For two years, I’ve kept my pirate costume hanging in my closet. It was starting to collect dust. Returning to SportsNation is my destiny.”

Beadle originally co-hosted “SportsNation” with Colin Cowherd and helped the program build its popularity and following. She will join current hosts Max Kellerman and Marcellus Wiley on the show.

Her return to the show was highlighted by a video of her taking a two-year absence to play minor league baseball for the Birmingham Barons a la Michael Jordan.

Michelle Beadle Returns from ESPN Dev on Vimeo.

Allen Iverson thanks Stephen A. Smith, Howard Eskin and both get booed (Video)

Allen Iverson thanked a long list of friends, family, former teammates, executives and other basketball-related people during his speech at his jersey retirement in Philadelphia on Saturday night, and he even decided to thank a few media members.

Not surprisingly, both media members he mentioned were booed by the Philly faithful.

“I know you wouldn’t believe someone like me would shout these people out, but it is what it is. They’re a part of my career, a part of my life,” Iverson prefaced his thank-yous.

“I gotta thank Stephen A. Smith. Howard Eskin,” Iverson said before thanking a few other people.

Though Smith has been a national personality for several years, he started off as a prominent writer/reporter/columnist for the Philly Inquirer. He was close with Iverson during A.I.’s tenure with the Sixers and often reported exclusives on the former MVP.

Eskin is veteran Philadelphia sports personality and media member. He works for FOX 29 TV and 94 WIP Radio in Philly, and he has received national attention for some of his reports, many of which have turned out to be incorrect. Eskin’s son, Spike, who is also a host for WIP and totally awesome, shared this cool photo of Iverson hugging Howard:

Allen Iverson Howard Eskin

I’ll be fair here and point out that there were roars from the crowd when both names were mentioned, but I think that was just because they were roaring after everything Iverson said. Most of the reception seemed to be boos.

Craig James files complaint saying he was fired for religious discrimination

Craig JamesCraig James may have been sacked by FOX Sports Southwest, but he is not going down without a fight.

According to The Associated Press, Liberty Institute in Texas, a group that promotes religious rights, filed a complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission Tuesday on behalf of James. The Liberty Institute believes James was fired by FOX Sports Southwest because of his anti-gay marriage beliefs.

James was hired by FOX Sports Southwest last September to serve as a college football analyst for the regional channel, but the larger FOX Sports network put an end to that after learning about the move.

“The decision to no longer use Craig James in our college football coverage was simply because he was not a good fit,” a Fox Sports Networks spokesperson told The Dallas Morning News in September. “Regrettably the decision to use him was not properly vetted, and as a result he will no longer provide commentary on Fox Sports Southwest college football coverage.”

A statement from FOX also supposedly called James “a polarizing figure in the college sports community” and said he was let go “based on the perception that he abused a previous on-air position to further a personal agenda.”

But here’s the quote from a Sept. 6 Dallas Morning News article that James and the Liberty Institute are focusing on.

“We just asked ourselves how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department,” said a Fox spokesman. “He couldn’t say those things here.”

Based on that comment, James and his group believe religious discrimination was at play.

Too bad there’s no legal reason that says you can fire someone on grounds of them being a d-bag, because that’s probably the best explanation for the situation.

Bart Scott joining CBS NFL Today broadcast

Bart-Scott-Wes-Welker-Days-in-Uniform-NumberedCBS announced last week that Tony Gonzalez will be joining the network’s “NFL Today” broadcast next season and that Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe will not be returning. The announcement, in theory, left one spot open for the pregame show. That spot will be filled by Bart Scott. He worked on CBS Sports Network’s “The Other Pregame Show” last season.

“Bart joining ‘The NFL Today is a natural progression from his outstanding work during his first season on TOPS,” CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said. “Bart brings a dynamic personality and unique perspective as a recently retired player providing strong opinions on all the hot-button issues on a weekly basis. We are confident he will continue to bring that perspective and those opinions to ‘The NFL Today.’”

[Related: Shannon Sharpe has pro response to question about Tony Gonzalez replacing him]

CBS is looking to bring a fresh perspective with players who have recently retired, and bringing Scott and Gonzalez on board will accomplish that. Scott, who was one of the most outspoken players in the league during his 11-year career, will likely bring an abundance of controversial opinions to the program.

Between Gonzalez and Scott, the shakeup is obviously significant for CBS. Apparently they felt change was needed.

Report: Erin Andrews to co-host Dancing With the Stars

Erin-AndrewsWord has it Erin Andrews is returning to ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” but not as a competitor. Andrews, who appeared on the show in 2010, is reportedly set to replace Brooke Burke-Charvet as co-host of the show.

Burke-Charvet confirmed on Friday that she will not be returning to the show for an eighth season, telling E! Online that she had no idea her job was on the line and that it was one of the most “shocking eliminations” of her career. According to The Big Lead, ABC is expected to announce that Andrews has joined the show on Monday.

Andrews will co-host the show alongside Tom Bergeron. In 2010, she spoke about how demanding of a schedule being a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars” created. Apparently the same does not apply for a host, as Andrews is expected to continue her duties with FOX Sports while co-hosting “Dancing With the Stars” during the week.

The show’s ratings have been down over the past few seasons, so it’s no surprise they would bring in a popular TV personality like Andrews. I’m sure she’ll provide a boost — at least initially.

Photo: Twitter/Erin Andrews

NESN says Jenny Dell is free to pursue other opportunities

Jenny Dell Will Middlebrooks

Less than a month after NESN sideline reporter Jenny Dell was taken off Red Sox games, it appears she is leaving the network altogether. Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, who oversees NESN’s on-air operations, told reporters on Thursday morning that Dell is free to pursue other opportunities.

“I think that we talked about it internally because I think Jenny is a terrific reporter,” Werner said, per Mike Petraglia of WEEI.com. “I think we came to the conclusion, and Jenny came to the same conclusion, that it would be a distraction for her to be a reporter. So, she’s moving on.”

While Werner did not make it sound like Dell had been forced to leave, he said that she is free of any contractual obligations even though she has been offered other positions with NESN.

“It wasn’t sort of a black-and-white decision because [she could] divorce her personal life from being a professional,” he said. “But we decided that in the end it would be better to move on and not have it be a distraction. She’s looking for other opportunities. Nothing’s been set but I think she’s looking for other opportunities. We’ve offered her other positions at NESN, whether she wanted to be an anchor or on an evening show or do other stuff.”

In other words, NESN would have retained Dell if she was willing to be demoted. The decision to pull her off Red Sox games almost certainly had to do with her now-public relationship with third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

Given her popularity, it makes sense that Dell would search for work elsewhere. While she may want to remain close to Middlebrooks, you would have to think Jenny can easily land another solid sideline reporter job.

Photo: Twitter/Middlebrooks

Chris Broussard discusses his infamous trade deadline sources

Chris BroussardChris Broussard’s reporting and seemingly loose usage of “sources” is a topic of fodder among many sports fans. We’ve blasted him in the past for seemingly lifting another reporter’s report and passing it off as his own a week later. Then the internet had a blast with him two years ago after he reported on news of Deron Williams’ free agent decision several minutes after Williams himself announced the news.

With the NBA trade deadline a day away, ESPN did a segment on “SportsCenter” Wednesday called the art of the trade deadline where they called upon their experts to explain how things work from people who are on the inside. First former Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies front office member Tom Penn shared what it’s like discussing deals from a team’s perspective. Then it was Broussard’s turn to share how he (attempts to) distinguishes fact from fiction when it comes to reporting with all the rumors around.

“Well it depends on the quality of your source,” Broussard began. “If you’ve got a source in that team — say Portland, just throwing out a team — and it’s a general manager, assistant GM, somebody you know that’s in the room with the decision makers, and he tells you something, that’s a good enough source to go with.

“A lot of times — more often than not — [information] comes from other teams. A team that may have spoken to Portland, or that did speak to Portland, and they heard Portland’s trying to get such and such a player or Portland’s trying to get a backup point guard or whatever the case. And so those you have to be a little more careful with because it’s second-hand information that’s when you search for other sources that can confirm that. You just have to measure the quality of your sources.”

So there you have it: if it was someone in the room, you can go with that source. If it wasn’t, then it takes some more work to confirm. No word from Broussard on what to do to determine if the source in the room is just using you to get information out there. He didn’t really get into that part.