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#pounditTuesday, November 30, 2021


ESPN’s Allison Williams shares why she is not reporting this fall

Allison Williams ESPN

Allison Williams will not be on the sidelines for college football games this season, and the ESPN reporter took to social media this week to explain why.

Williams announced on Twitter Thursday that she has decided to take the 2021 season off. She said she met with her doctor and a fertility specialist and determined she is not going to get the COVID-19 vaccine at this time, which is why she does not feel comfortable working.

Here’s the full statement:

Williams, 37, does sideline reporting for college football and college basketball with ESPN. She said the network has been supportive of her decision and that she looks forward to returning to work.

Todd McShay announces he will take ‘time away’ from ESPN

Todd McShay

Todd McShay covered ESPN’s marquee game between Alabama and Miami over the weekend, but that could be the last we see of the longtime reporter on television for a while.

McShay announced in a tweet on Tuesday that he is taking a leave from ESPN. He thanked his supporters and said he needs to “focus on my health and my family.”

The announcement came after some viewers felt McShay looked unwell again during Saturday’s broadcast of the Alabama-Miami game. He appeared to slur his words a bit while delivering a sideline report.

McShay’s health became a topic of conversation last year when he looked like he was struggling while giving a pregame report ahead of a Big Ten contest. He left that game due to what ESPN called an illness. You can see the clip here.

McShay, 44, has not made mention of his health since the incident last year. You may recall that he was also unable to participate in ESPN’s 2020 NFL Draft coverage after he contracted COVID-19. Hopefully he feels well enough to return in the near future.

Video: Michael Irvin did not hold back in ‘First Take’ debut

Michael Irvin First Take

Michael Irvin will be joining ESPN’s “First Take” every Monday to debate with Stephen A. Smith, and the Hall of Famer is clearly excited for the opportunity.

Irvin, who has appeared on “First Take” a few times in past years, seemed more than ready for his debut as an in-studio host for the popular show. He and Smith debated a number of topics on Monday, and both looked like they were going to pop a blood vessel at times. One particularly heated argument centered on how important offensive lineman Zack Martin is to the Dallas Cowboys.

That wasn’t even Irvin at his most animated. The former Cowboys receiver was more fired up while stating a case for Tom Brady being the best athlete of all time over Michael Jordan.

There was also a funny — if not somewhat awkward — moment when Jerry Jones called into the show. The Cowboys owner said he is so fond of Smith because Smith always has “pretty women around him.” You could tell Stephen A. didn’t see it coming.

Irvin clearly knows why Smith wanted him as a partner on “First Take.” If you look at some of the reasons Smith wanted Max Kellerman off the show, you can already see how Irvin is trying to play a much more animated role than Smith’s last co-host did.

John Sterling saved from flooded car by fellow Yankees announcer

John Sterling

New York Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling had to be rescued from his car Wednesday night in New York by the team’s Spanish-language announcer as significant flash flooding occurred throughout the city.

Though the Yankees were playing in Anaheim Wednesday, the team’s radio announcers are still not traveling with the team due to COVID-19 and instead call road games off a monitor from Yankee Stadium. Driving home, Sterling wound up stuck in his car in Edgewater, N.J. amid rising floodwaters and had to be rescued.

Yankees Spanish-language radio announcer Rickie Ricardo told WFAN’s “Moose and Maggie Show” that he was also trying to get home when he got a call from Sterling’s on-air partner Suzyn Waldman detailing Sterling’s plight.

“Suzyn asked me ‘where are you?’ I said, ‘I’m working my way across upper Manhattan to get to the [George Washington] Bridge to get to New Jersey,'” Ricardo said, via Peter Botte of the New York Post. “She says ‘John is stuck on River Road in Edgewater.’

“Now, I know for years, I’ve seen how bad it gets flooded on River Road in Edgewater, and with the kind of rain we had, I can only imagine. So I said, ‘Suzyn, I’m on my way. I more or less know where he lives. I’ll figure out where he’s at and see what I can do.'”

Ricardo eventually found Sterling in his car with water covering the wheels and spilling into the cabin.

“John gets out, we wade our way through the water,” Ricardo said. “I get him into my Jeep. We finally get John settled. He’s a little shell-shocked and I don’t blame him. And then the adventure is to get the extra half-mile from where he was stranded to his apartment. No more than a half a mile. It took us about an hour.”

Both Ricardo and Sterling did get home safely amid the rising waters.

The flooding caused chaos all throughout the New York area Wednesday. That was clear just from looking at Yankee Stadium, and things were even worse at the home of the team’s Double-A affiliate in New Jersey.

Why did Stephen A. Smith want Max Kellerman off ‘First Take?’

Stephen A. Smith

Max Kellerman appeared on ESPN’s “First Take” for the last time on Wednesday. Kellerman has spent the past five years hosting the show alongside Stephen A. Smith, and that partnership would have continued if Smith wanted it to. So why did Smith want Kellerman gone?

According to Outkick’s Bobby Burack, Smith had several issues with Kellerman as his debate partner. One was that Smith didn’t consider Kellerman to be a great debate partner. Smith apparently felt that Kellerman was a fence-sitter and did not take a definitive stance often enough. When Smith hosted “First Take” with Skip Bayless, the two almost always took opposite sides and ferociously defended them. That is the dynamic Smith wants on the show.

Burack also says Smith felt uncomfortable discussing social issues with Kellerman. That probably wasn’t as much of an issue with Bayless, as there wasn’t nearly as much spillover between politics and sports television five years ago.

A third reason that Smith wanted Kellerman off the show is that he reportedly does not view Kellerman as his equal. That is why ESPN’s solution is to have a rotation of analysts debating Smith rather than a co-host who appears on “First Take” with him every day.

Smith was out having surgery on Wednesday, so he didn’t appear on Kellerman’s final show. He did, however, call in.

Smith is the highest-paid employee at ESPN. He makes more than $10 million annually. It’s no surprise that he has a tremendous amount of pull with the network. We already know of one strong personality who could be added to the “First Take” rotation, and Smith will have plenty of say in the others.

Al Michaels responds to talk of possible retirement

Al Michaels

Al Michaels has been calling NFL games on TV since 1986, but he is leaving open the possibility that won’t continue beyond 2021.

Michaels is entering the final season of his contract with NBC. He will take on his usual role on “Sunday Night Football” for the season. His future beyond that is unclear, however, as Mike Tirico is slated to take over the role in 2022.

On Wednesday, the 76-year-old broadcaster said he has not made a decision about his future beyond 2021. He says he plans to see how he feels toward the end of the season before deciding on his future.

“Not really, because it’s a long season,” Michaels said, via Neil Best of Newsday. “I know there’s a lot of stuff that’s already been out there, but frankly, I have chosen to just concentrate on what’s directly ahead of me right now. I’ve been doing this for a long time, still love doing it. I don’t know what the future holds. And that is the truth.

“But as we go through the season and we get toward the end of it, I think there will be a little bit more clarity and I’ll see how I feel about certain things. But all I know is I just want to make this, which is Year 36 for me on prime time football, the best. Then we’ll see what happens.”

Michaels called Monday night games from 1986 through 2005 and has been on “Sunday Night Football” ever since. It sounds as though he’ll have options to keep broadcasting games if he wants to. But it makes sense for Michaels — who turns 77 in November — to see how he feels about the job once the upcoming season concludes.

John Smoltz, Al Leiter will not be in MLB Network studio over vaccine decision

John Smoltz Al Leiter

Neither John Smoltz nor Al Leiter will be in the MLB Network studio moving forward over their vaccine decision, according to a report.

The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reported on Tuesday that MLB Network has mandated all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Sept. 1. Both Smoltz and Leiter, who are studio analysts for the network, refused to get the vaccine, the report says.

MLB Network reached compromises with both men over their decisions. They will each appear during shows from remote locations. Smoltz will also still call a playoff game for the network.

Smoltz, 54, also serves as the lead analyst for FOX’s MLB game coverage. Leiter, 55, is also a former pitcher. He has been with MLB Network since its inception in 2009.

Report: ESPN interested in hiring Draymond Green

Draymond Green

ESPN already has a number of former NBA players appearing on their network, but now they could be going after a current one as well.

Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported on Thursday that ESPN is interested in hiring Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green for their “NBA Countdown” show. Green would only be available on occasion however as an active player.

The former Defensive Player of the Year Green has already dipped his toe into television. He has made guest appearances on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” and even joined CNN as a contributor last year.

Still, Green once got fined for something he said on TV. If he wants a shot with ESPN, he may have to be a bit more careful with his choice of words.

Report: Stephen A. Smith wants to team up with Magic Johnson on ESPN

Magic Johnson

Stephen A. Smith is a powerful man at ESPN, and when he has an ideal co-host in mind, the network tends to listen. That’s what makes Smith’s latest reported idea so interesting.

According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, Smith wants to team up with Magic Johnson on TV, possibly as part of “NBA Countdown.” Smith’s ideal setup would involve him, Johnson, and longtime “Pardon the Interruption” co-host Michael Wilbon, who works with Smith frequently on “SportsCenter.”

It’s not clear if ESPN would be willing to put Smith and his selected co-hosts on “NBA Countdown.” In the past, the network has resisted making him a centerpiece of its NBA pregame show, feeling his opinionated style is not a good fit for the program. However, there is some belief that the pre-existing camaraderie of Smith, Johnson, and Wilbon would come through on the air.

Johnson could also have a role as Smith’s debate partner on “First Take” as part of a rotation. ESPN plans to use a rotating cast of co-hosts on that program after Max Kellerman’s departure.

The network is currently revamping its NBA programming in light of the high-profile departure of Maria Taylor and the demotion of Rachel Nichols stemming from her controversial comments about Taylor that leaked this year. With the NBA coverage in flux, Smith certainly appears poised to step into the void.

Johnson has done TV before, although his contributions haven’t been terribly noteworthy. He certainly has his share of opinions, but also gets roasted somewhat frequently for some of his more obvious takes.

Look: Fan scolds ESPN’s Adam Schefter in harsh letter about Tua Tagovailoa pronunciation

Adam Schefter

ESPN’s Adam Schefter received some “fan mail” from a crazed former TV announcer who scolded the reporter over his pronunciation of Tua Tagovailoa’s name.

Schefter shared a photo of the letter over Twitter on Wednesday. The fan addressed the letter to both Schefter and fellow ESPN reporter Field Yates In the letter, the fan claims to be a retired radio/TV announcer and voiceover artist.

The fan scolds Schefter and Yates for “routinely f— up” (censored by LBS) the pronunciation of Tagovailoa. The crazed person calls Schefter and Yates “a–holes” and also calls Mike Greenberg an a-hole, saying Greeny is not worth a letter.

The letter is simply amazing. Just seeing the gall of someone to write such a nasty letter like that about a subject that doesn’t call for such profanity is humorous.

The most incredible part is the fan was wrong with his correction! Here is Tagovailoa himself sharing how to pronounce his last name:

So, the proper pronunciation is: tongue-oh-vai-lo-uh. What are the chances Schefter receives an apology from the fan? Probably as good of odds that he receives an apology from this man.