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#pounditTuesday, October 26, 2021


Alex Rodriguez unlikely to return to ‘Sunday Night Baseball’?

Alex Rodriguez with sunglasses on

ESPN appears to be closing in on a new “Sunday Night Baseball” broadcast team, and it may not include Alex Rodriguez.

The Action Network’s Darren Rovell reported Friday that Karl Ravech is set to replace Matt Vasgersian on play-by-play. Vasgersian prefers to focus on his duties with MLB Network and the Los Angeles Angels. Eduardo Perez will join as an analyst.

Rovell adds that ESPN is holding a seat open for Rodriguez if he wants it. However, Rovell says A-Rod is “not likely” to join.

In the end, the decision to leave the broadcasts seems to be Rodriguez’s. It had been previously reported that he had enough support at ESPN to return for next season. He may simply not want to adjust to a new pair of partners at this point.

Rodriguez has plenty on his plate as it is. He’s the incoming co-owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Plus, he still has his FOX Sports duties, where he’s regularly taunted on air.

Ex-ESPN reporter lands new job after resisting vaccine mandate

Allison Williams ESPN

Allison Williams announced last month that she will not be on the sideline for ESPN college football games this season, and she thanked the network for supporting her decision. That network is now her former employer.

The Daily Wire announced on Friday that Williams has signed with the media company to lead a special sports series. Williams said she left ESPN over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate and that she is excited for her new venture.

“I am proud to be a part of a company that fights for our rights and I cannot wait to bring agenda-free sports reporting to the Daily Wire’s members and millions of followers,” Williams said. “Leaving ESPN was one of the most difficult decisions of my career, but it was the right thing to do. I respect people who choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but it was not the appropriate medical decision for me at this time. No one should be forced to choose between their livelihood and the freedom to make their own health care choices—it is simply un-American.”

Williams said in September that she decided not to get the COVID vaccineS after consulting with a fertility specialist. She noted at the time that ESPN was supportive of her decision to take time off.

The Daily Wire bills itself as a conservative media company that is “leading the fight against (Joe) Biden’s looming vaccine mandate.” The company is planning to legally challenge vaccine mandates.

Williams, 37, had been with ESPN since 2011. Another prominent ESPN personality recently gained attention for speaking out against the company’s vaccine policy.

Dick Vitale announces he has been diagnosed with cancer again

Dick Vitale

Dick Vitale revealed back in August that he was cancer-free after previously being diagnosed with melanoma, but unfortunately the college basketball legend is battling another health issue.

Vitale, 82, announced in a statement through ESPN on Monday that he has been diagnosed with lymphoma. He said his doctors believe the diagnosis is unrelated to the melanoma, which was removed from above his nose and “totally cleared.” Vitale said the treatment for lymphoma will be much more difficult but that he is optimistic it will be managed thanks to early detection.

“The plan is to treat my lymphoma with steroids and six months of chemotherapy,” Vitale said. “The medical experts tell me it has a 90-percent cure rate. They say I can continue to work so I will have to manage my work schedule around my chemo schedule as they will monitor my test results along the way.”

Vitale said he draws motivation from children he has met and spent time with over the years who have battled cancer.

“In my battle, I think of all the Courageous kids that I have gotten to know and I want all of them to know (after watching their battles with their cancers and handling the chemo/radiation) they inspire and motivate me to take on this biggest fight I have ever faced. I WILL DO EVERY THING IN MY POWER TO WIN THIS BATTLE!” he said.

After he spent several years as a high school and college coach, Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons for one season in 1978-79. He then went to work at ESPN and called the network’s first college basketball game in 1979.

Vitale is an incredible ambassador for college basketball and remains as enthusiastic about the sport as ever. He signed his most recent contract extension with ESPN earlier this year. Hopefully his treatments won’t keep him from doing what he loves all that often.

ESPN president asked if he regrets handling of Maria Taylor-Rachel Nichols controversy

Maria Taylor

ESPN’s executives took plenty of heat for its handling of the Maria Taylor-Rachel Nichols controversy. The network ended up separating the two women and later removing Nichols from her NBA Finals duties. Their actions were in response to audio of a private conversation Nichols had got leaked to the media. In the conversation, Nichols accused ESPN of taking a job from her and giving it to Taylor for race reasons (details here).

The situation was handled so poorly by ESPN’s leadership that problems between the women and other members of the network lingered for a year and went unresolved until the matter leaked to the media. Nichols ended up losing all her NBA roles for ESPN. Taylor ended up leaving for NBC.

ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro was in charge of the network throughout the whole matter. He was a guest on Andrew Marchand and John Ourand’s podcast and was asked if he regretted the way the matter was handled.

Pitaro must have been prepared for the question, because he never answered it and spent about a minute spinning the subject and talking about how he wanted to focus on the future.

Maybe Pitaro recognized that was a no-win question and that nothing he could say in response would reflect well upon him. There’s no way he doesn’t regret things. He was even criticized by the NBA commissioner.

The question is whether the matter taught any lessons to ESPN’s executives.

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.