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#pounditTuesday, November 30, 2021


ESPN’s Jay Williams received death wishes after defending Kyrie Irving

Jay Williams

Jay Williams and Stephen A. Smith got into a heated debate this week over Kyrie Irving’s decision to not get the COVID-19 vaccine, and Williams says people have wished death upon him over the stance he took.

During Wednesday’s edition of ESPN’s “First Take,” Smith was critical of Irving for leaving the Brooklyn Nets hanging by choosing not to get vaccinated. Williams, who said he is pro-vaccine, defended Irving’s right to make a personal decision and do what he feels is right for him and his family. You can see the argument below:

Williams posted an emotional video on Instagram this week in which he revealed that people have told him he doesn’t deserve to live because of his take on Irving.

“You know the crazy s— people say to me on the internet when they disagree with my opinion? … ‘Go hit a pole. Go die again. Duke’s education…’ All this stuff,” Williams said. “Thank god I went through that experience, because I don’t need other people to justify how I think about myself.”

Williams, of course, was a star at Duke and taken with the second overall pick by the Chicago Bulls in the 2002 NBA Draft. He suffered severe injuries in a motorcycle crash in 2003 that ultimately cost him his playing career.

Williams also doubled down on his defense of Irving.

“Kyrie Irving doesn’t owe you anything. He doesn’t owe you a response on your timeline. He doesn’t owe you answers that you feel like you need,” Williams said. “Everybody says, ‘Oh, the NBA season starts in five days.’ Who gives a damn.”

Here’s the full video from Williams:

Almost everyone has an opinion on the Irving situation. There has been speculation that Irving could retire, and the star point guard responded to that this week. Irving has given no indication that he will change his vaccine stance. If he does not, he likely won’t play at all this season.

Terry Bradshaw being canceled for acknowledging Erin Andrews’ cowboy outfit

Terry Bradshaw

The outrage mob is trying to cancel Terry Bradshaw for acknowledging the themed outfit Erin Andrews wore for an interview.

Andrews is one of the reporters on FOX’s NFL team. She sat down with Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White for an interview that aired ahead of his team’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night. The interview was about White’s love of horses and took place inside of horse stables.

Andrews dressed appropriately for the occasion and had on cowboy boots and a jean-cowboy shirt.

After the interview was done playing, Bradshaw, who was at FOX’s headquarters, spoke with Andrews, who was on the scene in Philadelphia.

“You got your cowboy boots on and your shirt, you’re looking good, I enjoyed that interview,” Bradshaw said to Andrews.

Absent context, it might look like Bradshaw is randomly remarking on Andrews’ appearance, which would be odd. But in context, Bradshaw’s acknowledgment made sense. He was noting that Andrews dressed up for her interview in cowboy attire.

None of that mattered to the Twitter mob, which began accusing Bradshaw of effectively sexually harassing Andrews. One website even called Bradshaw a “creep.” Most of the people probably did not even know that Andrews had dressed up for the horse interview with White and were just seeking Twitter cred by piling on Bradshaw.

Andrews tweeted a few times after the game ended, but she did not tweet anything about Bradshaw. If she feels Bradshaw’s comments were inappropriate, she should say so publicly. Until then, this is almost as stupid of a controversy as her Jimmy Garoppolo interview that got attention.

Photo: Jan 19, 2020; Santa Clara, CA USA; Terry Bradshaw before the NFC Championship Game between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers at Levin’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Schefter addresses editorial controversy with statement

Adam Schefter

Adam Schefter addressed his editorial controversy with a statement issued on Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Times published a story about the Jon Gruden leaked emails. The Times was able to track down some of the emails through an information request into a legal matter between Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder and former WFT executive Bruce Allen. Allen is the friend with whom Gruden was emailing in the chain of leaked emails that caused the coach to lose his job with the Raiders.

Snyder’s legal team was trying to get Allen to produce discovery for a defamation case Snyder is pursuing in India. Snyder’s team was disputing Allen’s assertion that he maintained a low profile while with Washington and was not the source of media leaks. An email exchange between ESPN NFL reporter Schefter and Allen was used as proof to dispute Allen’s claim that he was not a media source.

The email that received attention included Schefter telling Allen he would provide a draft of a story for Allen to review and approve before Schefter would publish it. Schefter even jokingly called Allen “Mr. Editor” over email.

Schefter’s journalistic integrity has been called into question since the details of his email exchange with Allen were made public.

“Without sharing all the specifics of the reporter’s process for a story from 10 years ago during the NFL lockout, we believe that nothing is more important to Adam and ESPN than providing fans the most accurate, fair and complete story,” ESPN said in a statement defending Schefter.

Schefter addressed the matter during both a radio appearance and in a statement issued on Wednesday.

“I’ve learned for a long time in this business not to discuss sources, or the process, or how stories are done, but I would just say that, basically, it’s a common practice to run information past sources, and in this particular case, during a labor intensive lockout that was a complicated subject that was new to understand, I took the extra rare step again to run information past one of the people that I was talking to,” Schefter told 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia, according to Pro Football Talk. “You know, it was an important story to fans; a host of others, and that’s the situation.”

Schefter also issued a statement through ESPN.

“Fair questions are being asked about my reporting approach on an NFL Lockout story from 10 years ago,” Schefter said. “Just to clarify, it’s common practice to verify facts of a story with sources before you publish in order to be as accurate as possible. In this case, I took the rare step of sending the full story in advance because of the complex nature of the collective bargaining talks. It was a step too far and, looking back, I shouldn’t have done it. The criticism being levied is fair. With that said, I want to make this perfectly clear: in no way did I, or would I, cede editorial control or hand over final say about a story to anyone, ever.”

Schefter is widely regarded as the top NFL reporter. Schefter has previously described himself as an information broker, which helps him get so many scoops.

Randy Moss threatens to fight media personality in deleted tweet

Randy Moss

Randy Moss was extremely emotional while sharing his thoughts on the Jon Gruden situation on Sunday, and the Hall of Famer drew a lot of praise for what he said. Jason Whitlock, however, is one member of the media who was not impressed. Whitlock was highly critical of Moss, and let’s just say Moss did not appreciate the feedback.

Whitlock published a story on Monday in which he used the spelling “Randi” for Moss’ first name. Whitlock intentionally used a feminine spelling of the name and berated Moss for “(using) Gruden’s leaked email to ascend through the pearly gates of victimhood.”

Moss saw Whitlock’s criticism and responded to Whitlock over Twitter with a threat.

Moss wrote “ON SITE!” to Whitlock before quickly deleting the tweet. One of Whitlock’s followers captured a screenshot:

That was Moss’ way of threatening violence against Whitlock.

What Moss meant was “on sight,” which is a way to say that there will be a fight the next time the two people see each other. The phrase “on sight” is
described by Urban Dictionary as “a phrase you use to tell a person once you see them no word will be spoken, but hands will be thrown.”

Most people know what the phrase means. Moss likely realized it was wrong to threaten to fight a fellow member of the media, which probably explains why he deleted the tweet.

You can see the clip of Moss talking about Gruden on “Sunday NFL Countdown” below:

That certainly isn’t the first time we have seen a former athlete threaten violence over something a prominent member of the media said. It was a bad look for Moss, and he probably knew it.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter sent Bruce Allen draft of story to approve as his ‘editor’

Adam Schefter

Jon Gruden lost his job this week over numerous offensive remarks he made in emails that were leaked to the media, but the former Las Vegas Raiders coach is not the only person whose reputation is taking a hit.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who is widely considered to be the top NFL reporter in sports media, has also come under fire. An email that was exchanged between Schefter and former Washington executive Bruce Allen in July 2011 raised questions about Schefter’s journalistic integrity. According to Sam Farmer and Nathan Frenno of the Los Angeles Times, Schefter sent a draft of an unpublished story to Allen and asked him if the story needed any changes. Schefter referred to Allen as “Mr. Editor” in the email.

“Please let me know if you see anything that should be added, changed, tweaked,” Schefter wrote. “Thanks, Mr. Editor, for that and the trust. Plan to file this to espn about 6 am ….”

Schefter’s story was about the labor negotiations between the NFL and NFL Players Association during the 2011 lockout. Allen was not mentioned by name in the story, which means he was one of Schefter’s sources. Allen, of course, was on the management side of the labor dispute. Schefter’s email indicates that he was letting Allen present the story exactly how the then-Washington general manager wanted it presented.

ESPN defended Schefter after the email leaked.

“Without sharing all the specifics of the reporter’s process for a story from 10 years ago during the NFL lockout, we believe that nothing is more important to Adam and ESPN than providing fans the most accurate, fair and complete story,” the network said in a statement.

At the very least, Schefter giving Allen editorial privileges over his story is a bad look, even if the email is not nearly as damaging as the ones that were exchanged between Gruden and Allen.

Michelle Beadle lands job with Spurs

Michelle Beadle

It has been roughly a year since Michelle Beadle last held a prominent role in the media, but the former ESPN personality will once again be part of the NBA landscape this season.

The San Antonio Spurs announced on Friday that Beadle is joining their local broadcast team. Beadle will appear as a “special correspondent” on Bally Sports Southwest.

The gig is one that should allow Beadle plenty of opportunities to pursue work elsewhere, as well. A recent report said she is in talks with several media outlets about possible roles, and those discussions will likely continue.

Beadle left ESPN’s “Get Up!” last year after she spoke out against the sport of football and expressed anger over former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer not being fired amid the Zach Smith scandal. She then became the host of “NBA Countdown” before reaching a buyout agreement with ESPN in 2019. There was talk that network executives were upset with Beadle for not fulfilling her responsibilities off the air.

Former ESPN president John Skipper has expressed interest in hiring Beadle at the new company he co-founded.

Look: FOX unveils new scorebug for MLB playoffs

MLB FOX scorebug

FOX has had the same scorebug for MLB games for the past several years, but the network has created a new design for the 2021 playoffs.

A new scorebug will be used beginning with ALDS Game 1 between the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros on FOX Sports 1. The graphic features 3D bases, bigger font and a lot more color. Check it out:

As you can see, the new scorebug is a lot less simple than the old one. That tends to not go over well with fans. The reaction to the change was quite predictable.

There’s a lot going on with the new scorebug, which is why fans are going to complain. It’s hard to sell viewers on change as it is, let alone making a familiar graphic more complex.

Believe it or not, fans don’t always bash networks for changing their graphics. CBS seemed to get it right when they unveiled a new scorebug during the Super Bowl earlier this year.

Sage Steele off ESPN after positive COVID test, amid podcast comments

Sage Steele

Sage Steele will not appear on ESPN for at least a week after she tested positive for COVID-19, but that reportedly is not the only reason the longtime “SportsCenter” anchor has been temporarily taken off the air.

Steele tested positive for COVID-19 this week, but Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports that her hiatus “goes beyond her diagnosis.” The implication is that ESPN may have placed Steele on a leave of sorts, anyway, due to her stance on the COVID vaccine and her recent remarks about Barack Obama.

During a recent appearance on the “Uncut with Jay Cutler” podcast, Steele ripped ESPN and parent company Walt Disney Co. for requiring all employees to get vaccinated.

“I work for a company that mandates it and I had until Sept. 30 to get it done or I’m out,” Steele told Cutler, per USA TODAY’s Scooby Axson. “I respect everyone’s decision, I really do, but to mandate it is sick and it’s scary to me in many ways.”

Steele later apologized in a statement, saying she regrets that her comments “created controversy for the company.”

Steele has also been criticized for remarks she made about Obama. She told Cutler she found it “fascinating” that Obama chose to identify as black on a census “considering his black dad was nowhere to be found” when he was growing up.

ESPN did not say in a statement whether Steele would be disciplined. The network said differing viewpoints are embraced but that “those points of view (should) be expressed respectfully.” Executives at both ESPN and Disney are not pleased with Steele and felt she should take some time off, according to McCarthy.

This is not the first time Steele has faced backlash for something she publicly complained about.

ESPN reportedly chooses new ‘NBA Countdown’ host

ESPN logo

ESPN has settled on a new host for “NBA Countdown” after all the drama that unfolded in recent months, and the job has reportedly been given to one of their most recognizable faces.

According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, ESPN has named Mike Greenberg the new host of “NBA Countdown.” Greenberg will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Michael Wilbon, Jalen Rose and Magic Johnson for marquee games.

Greenberg, who makes $6.5 million per year at ESPN, has been the host of “Get Up!” since 2018. He also has a show on ESPN Radio and hosts the NFL Draft. By adding “NBA Countdown” to Greenberg’s responsibilities, ESPN executives are hoping to elevate the program after years of a rotating cast that never seems to compete with TNT’s “Inside the NBA.”

Rose is the only analyst who worked on “NBA Countdown” last year that will be returning. The show has been completely revamped after Maria Taylor left following a high-profile contract dispute that also cost Rachel Nichols her job. Taylor now works for NBC.

Nichols is still being paid by ESPN but has been removed from all on-air programming. There has been talk that she could return to her former employer once her contract with ESPN expires.

Steelers, Packers fans were so upset with CBS over TV decision

CBS Steelers Packers

CBS upset a large number of NFL fans on Sunday with their decision in the afternoon.

CBS’ national game for the second wave of games in Week 4 was Pittsburgh at Green Bay. Both of those teams have huge fan bases, and there is also a good deal of national interest in a game between the well-known teams and quarterbacks.

However, most national viewers were unable to watch the first quarter of the Steelers-Packers game because CBS aired the overtime of the Titans-Jets game instead.

Fans who did not live in the Packers and Steelers markets, and those without the Sunday Ticket package, were unable to see the first quarter of the game. Take a look at the reaction on Twitter:

And Pat McAfee did a video on it, dropping a few F-bombs.

The Jets got their first win of the year, beating the Titans 27-24 in overtime. But few people cared about the outcome of that game compared to the Steelers-Packers game.