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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Media

Report: Tony Romo bidding surpasses $15 million

Tony Romo CBS

Tony Romo’s first contract to broadcast NFL games for CBS paid him $3 million a year. He’ll be making a lot more than that going forward.

According to Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage, bidding for Romo between ESPN and CBS has already surpassed $15 million per year and may approach $20 million before negotiations conclude. This figure would make Romo the highest-paid sports announcer in American history.

Both networks are trying to send a message by signing Romo. ESPN wants to retain its “Monday Night Football” package with better games and get into the Super Bowl rotation. CBS wants to keep Romo, show that they’re committed to the NFL, and does not want to be tasked with finding a new commentator to work next year’s Super Bowl.

CBS has the right to match any offer made to Romo.

We had previously heard that Romo could get between $10 million and $14 million. If this reporting is correct, he has already surpassed that and may well come close to doubling the initial low-end estimate, which is what he originally sought.

The only question is how high the two networks are willing to go before one concedes defeat.

Report: Paul Finebaum could leave ESPN by end of 2020

Pete Finebaum show

Paul Finebaum’s tenure with ESPN could be coming to an end.

The radio host and college football analyst could leave ESPN to start his own sitcom. According to Michael Smith of Sports Business Journal, Finebaum is pitching a show about his life and his call-in show to all four major networks, and there is interest. If that show were to come to pass, Finebaum would leave ESPN and the SEC Network, with his contract expiring next summer. There is some belief that Finebaum could leave the network at the end of the 2020 college football season.

In addition to a sitcom, Finebaum is looking at other opportunities. Those include Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, and DAZN. DAZN is run by John Skipper, who originally hired Finebaum at ESPN. Finebaum has also been spoken to about a startup akin to Bill Simmons’ “The Ringer,” which would put Finebaum at the top of a podcasting and editorial endeavor.

Finebaum has become highly influential, and his call-in show is a huge deal in SEC country. His takes have been noted and used as bulletin board material by various teams. Clearly, that high profile has given him options, and it certainly sounds possible that he may move on from ESPN quite soon.

Jeremy Roenick fired by NBC over comments about coworkers

NHL analyst Jeremy Roenick won’t be back with NBC after inappropriate comments he made late last year about colleagues Kathryn Tappen and Patrick Sharp.

Roenick made the announcement in a Twitter post Wednesday, stating he was “disappointed and angry” and calling the move a “joke” in his caption.

Roenick makes it pretty clear that this was a firing based on his reaction as opposed to a mutual parting of ways.

The analyst was initially suspended indefinitely by NBC over inappropriate sexual comments about both Tappen and Sharp. He was left that way for about a month and a half leading up to his announcement on Wednesday.

Roenick thrives on offering controversial opinions and unfiltered thoughts. It’s unclear if he’ll surface anywhere else, or what network or outlet would be willing to hire him after this incident.

D’Angelo Russell calls reporter Nick Friedell a ‘clown’

D’Angelo Russell took aim at a reporter over Twitter on Tuesday.

Russell tweeted at ESPN NBA reporter Nick Friedell and called him a “clown.”

Russell’s tweet at Friedell was likely in response to what the reporter said ESPN’s “The Jump” Tuesday.

Friedell said he did not believe Karl-Anthony Towns was the kind of player a team could build around. He advocated for the Timberwolves to trade Towns in the future. Friedell also said the Warriors traded Russell to Minnesota because the team believed Russell was not the kind of player who would make for a core member of a championship team.

That all probably rubbed Russell in the wrong way; Russell and Towns are very close friends and have each others’ backs, especially now that they’re teammates.

NFL exploring possibility of using flex scheduling for ‘Monday Night Football’

Roger Goodell

The NFL has taken steps over the past several years to give fans a better chance of seeing meaningful games in primetime slots, and the league wants to be able to do that with games played on both Monday and Sunday nights.

In 2006, the NFL implemented flexible scheduling that allows for better matchups to be featured on “Sunday Night Football”. Games between Week 5-17 can be affected by flex scheduling, though only two matchups total can be flexed between Week 5 and Week 10. After that, the NFL tries assure that the Sunday night game has some sort of playoff implication.

According to Ben Fischer and John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, the NFL recently asked teams for feedback on the possibility of expanding flex scheduling to include Monday night games as well. That would mean games that are scheduled for Sunday could be moved to Monday, and vice versa. The goal would be for “Monday Night Football” to feature more meaningful matchups later in the season, though the issue is obviously more complicated than moving teams from one Sunday time slot to another Sunday time slot.

Flexing games from Sunday to Monday and vice versa would have travel implications, which would be a concern for teams. There would also likely be backlash from fans who planned to attend games, as that would greatly impact their schedules if they bought tickets in advance. That said, the NFL is obviously looking into the possibly of Monday night flexing because they believe ratings could improve, and the goal would be giving fans more primetime matchups that they want to see.

The NFL’s current media rights deal runs through the 2022 season, so any major change like Monday flex scheduling would not take effect for a few more years. However, SBJ reports that ESPN has been pushing to incorporate flex scheduling as part of its next “Monday Night Football” deal, and the network has offered to broadcast games on fellow Disney-owned station ABC again if it happens.

ESPN is reportedly preparing to make a massive contract offer to Tony Romo, and that number may even increase if flex scheduling is on the horizon for “Monday Night Football.” If the network believes it is going to happen, that would almost certainly mean better ratings down the road.

Arik Armstead starts Twitter feud with writer Grant Cohn

Arik Armstead

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead is definitely paying attention to what people write about him as he prepares to enter free agency.

Armstead started something of a one-sided Twitter feud with Santa Rosa Press Democrat columnist Grant Cohn earlier in the week after Cohn said on Twitter that the 49ers should pursue Jadeveon Clowney instead of Armstead if they cost the same amount of money in free agency. Armstead did not take kindly to that, and blasted Cohn on Twitter.

Armstead was not done there. He dug up video from before the season of Cohn predicting the 49ers would go 6-10, then continued tweeting about Cohn.

Cohn, for his part, was understated in his responses to Armstead’s tweets.

A lot of people will love Armstead standing up for himself, especially since he can convincingly argue he had a better statistical season than Clowney did. It may not be best for him, though, especially with free agency coming up. Noise like this can easily be ignored, which is something Baker Mayfield, another player who was not shy about responding to his critics in the media, learned the hard way in 2019. It probably won’t hurt him much, but he’d probably be better off not worrying about what columnists are writing about him and his team.

This isn’t the first time Armstead has had something to say about some media speculation about him.

Justin Turner rips media over trade reports in awful take

Justin Turner Dodgers

Justin Turner took aim at the media on Saturday for the uncomfortable situation involving many of the players who were part of the recent trade talks.

On Tuesday night, news broke saying the Red Sox and Dodgers had agreed to a trade that would send Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles for Alex Verdugo. The Dodgers would also send Kenta Maeda to the Twins, and the Twins would trade Brusdar Graterol to Boston as part of the deal. Beyond that, the Dodgers had a second trade in place involving the Angels that would send Joc Pederson to Anaheim for Luis Rengifo.

The trades have been on hold since the Red Sox supposedly found an issue with Graterol’s medical records, leaving all the involved parties in limbo. Rather than just acknowledge that it’s a crappy situation for the players, Turner, whose Dodgers are involved in the trades, decided to blame the media for reporting news of the deals.

Turner could not be more wrong.

Of course reporters care about being first. You want to know why? Because fans have a hunger for knowledge and want to be first to know and spread the word. Outlets that are first to report news become successful in a crowded field, and reporters who get information first also are compensated accordingly.

The reporters’ drive to report the news is in response to the hunger of fans for news about their favorite teams. That same fan interest is what keeps Turner making millions. He shouldn’t forget that. And if he would have a problem with someone saying he shouldn’t be paid what he makes, then he should not be calling out reporters for trying to do their job well, which is report news.

Moreover, his anger is misplaced on top of everything else. Reporters don’t know about trade information unless someone leaks it, so Turner really should be upset with the leakers. And guess what? Many people can’t keep their mouths shut when they have information. How does Turner know that it wasn’t a player involved in the deal who told a reporter? If he wants to be mad at someone, be mad at those leaking the information, or just accept that people sharing secrets is human nature and stop complaining.

This trade limbo is not fun for the players involved, and especially Joc Pederson, who was being traded in the middle of his salary arbitration. But just because it’s a bad situation, don’t go blaming the media for it when they’re not the ones responsible for this.