ESPN addresses Sarah Phillips hiring, firing

ESPN executive vice president and executive editor John Walsh hosted an online chat Thursday and addressed the company’s decision to hire and later fire Sarah Phillips. Phillips was exposed this week by Deadspin as someone who was hired by ESPN to write for their “Page 2″ section despite having very little writing background. She leveraged her position with ESPN, and combined with a friend/partner, to allegedly scam several people. Her aim was to gain money/and or promotion via social media from her victims.

Walsh was supposedly “asked” a question about Phillips during his chat. Based on the way it was phrased, the question seemed planted by ESPN (or specifically chosen by them) so that they could formulate a response that wouldn’t make them look too bad. Let’s look at Walsh’s response:

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Dan Patrick calls out Colin Cowherd for not crediting him for Kurt Warner quotes

Dan Patrick frequently talks about his former employer, ESPN, (aka the “Mothership”), on his nationally syndicated and televised radio show, but he doesn’t often go after them as much as he did on Friday.

Patrick was upset that ESPN Radio morning talk show host Colin Cowherd seemed to rip him off without giving credit, and he called him out for it.

What happened is Patrick interviewed Kurt Warner on Thursday morning and asked the former quarterback-turned-analyst if he would want his children to play football given the dangers of the sport. Warner said he preferred if they didn’t, and was called out by another player for his opinion.

According to Awful Announcing, Cowherd had Warner on his show later in the morning (audio here). He started off the interview asking about the same subject.

“You know, Kurt, yesterday on the tragic death of Junior Seau one of the first things I thought about was the effect it’s going to have on the game long term and mothers and fathers saying, ‘you know what, I’m out.’ There’s no way I want my kids playing this game. You’ve got kids, where do you fall on that Kurt?” Cowherd asked.

Patrick viewed that as Cowherd trying to piggyback on a subject Patrick raised, but without giving Dan the proper credit. After Patrick called out Cowherd on his show Friday (audio in the video above), the ESPN personality responded to people questioning him over Twitter. Cowherd played dumb.

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Jon Gruden, Mel Kiper Jr. have heated discussion over Russell Wilson (Video)

The ESPN NFL Draft set was never more animated than when the analysts began discussing quarterback prospect Russell Wilson.

Early in the third round, the only quarterback taken on the second day was Brock Osweiler. ESPN showed draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s quarterback board, and he said Wilson was more of a fourth-round prospect. Kiper’s big knock against Wilson is his size — he’s only 5’11″. That reasoning caused Jon Gruden to have a fit.

Gruden tore into Kiper for downgrading Wilson over a matter of an inch or two in height.

“You discriminate against guys who aren’t six feet!” Gruden told Kiper.

He then cited Ray Lewis, Wes Welker, Darren Sproles, and Maurice Jones-Drew as examples of undersized star players who Kiper would have downgraded.

The whole exchange was highly entertaining, and Gruden turned out to be correct in his prediction that Wilson would be taken that round; Seattle took him with the 12th pick in the third round, No. 75 overall.

Below is a look at Wilson turning down the volume on his TV after hearing all the ESPN bickering:

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Networks will limit cameras in green room to create more suspense during NFL Draft

Nobody likes spoilers. ESPN and NFL Network understand this.

So for the first night of next week’s NFL Draft, in an effort to make their draft coverage more suspenseful, both networks reportedly won’t be showing shots of players talking on the phone shortly before their name is ultimately read by Roger Goodell. According to SI’s Richard Deitsch, on-air personalities are still free to make predictions, however.

Previously, any suspense leading up to a pick evaporated once cameras showed prospects coyly speaking into their phones in the green room or their homes before Goodell had a chance to officially announce their name. It has always been the downside to the extensive coverage networks provide for the draft. LB has voiced this complaint in the past. Finally, something is being done about it. The decision comes after both networks met with the league Wednesday to discuss ways to deal with the problem.

This should be a move welcomed by anybody who enjoys all things compelling. After all, the NFL Draft is a television event more than it is a sporting event. Hopefully well-informed reporters like Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen will also have the decency to bite their tongues.

Aside from the few no-brainer selections, it’s going to be fun not knowing what to expect at each pick. For once it will happen other than when the Raiders are on the clock.

H/T Shutdown Corner
Photo credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Warren Sapp ‘likely’ done at NFL Network, report says

Already filing for bankruptcy last week, Warren Sapp could be facing additional problems in his future.

The Boston Globe reports Sapp’s stint as an analyst with NFL Network is “likely over.” This comes in the wake of Sapp’s controversial accusation last month that Jeremy Shockey was the whistle blower in the Saints’ bounty scandal. The network reprimanded Sapp, saying he is an “analyst, not a reporter,” but did not fire him. However, Sapp hasn’t appeared on the network since that week.

According to Sapp’s bankruptcy paperwork, he makes roughly $540,000 per year for his NFL Network gig. The Globe’s report cites a source that says his contract is not expected to be renewed when it expires in August. Pro Football Talk confirms that Sapp will be “benched” until his deal is up.

We’ve been vocal in the past about our belief that Sapp should have been dismissed from the network for his reckless handling of the serious allegations he leveled against Shockey. It appeared he was just going to get away with a slap on the wrist. Now it looks as if his contract simply won’t be picked up, as a consequence. Better late than never.

Photo credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Jonathan Vilma and Peter King are beefing on Twitter

Jonathan Vilma and Peter King traded a few shots over Twitter Tuesday after King pointed out that the Saints were signing linebackers to prepare for potential bounty suspensions. The Sports Illustrated NFL writer singled out Vilma with this tweet:

King sent the message shortly after the Saints signed linebacker David Hawthorne. Vilma played dumb, responding to King “that u know how to type peoples names??” Vilma then called King a blogger, saying he was doing “reckless journalism.”

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Jeremy Lin had lunch with fired ESPN headline writer and ‘it went incredible’

Jeremy Lin had lunch Tuesday with the editor who was fired for writing a racially offensive headline following a Knicks loss last month. Lin said at the time he hoped the use of the phrase “chink in the armor” wasn’t intentional and that he hoped to learn to forgive. Apparently that was the case.

Newsday reports that a member of Lin’s family contacted Anthony Federico more than a month ago but they were unable to set up a meeting until now because of the point guard’s busy schedule. They finally met for lunch at a Manhattan restaurant Tuesday and Federico, who was apologetic following his egregious error, said “it went incredible.”

“The fact that he took the time to meet with me in his insanely busy schedule . . . He’s just a wonderful, humble person,” Federico told Newsday. “He didn’t have to do that, especially after everything had kind of died down for the most part.

“We talked more about matters of faith [and] reconciliation. We talked about our shared Christian values and what we’re both trying do with this situation . . . We didn’t talk about the headline for more than three minutes.”

Federico was feeling terribly for his error but probably feels much better now that he’s met with Lin. That’s also extremely thoughtful of Lin to arrange the meeting. As Federico said, Lin is very humble, and definitely a caring person.