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#pounditThursday, January 28, 2021

Media

Beloved NBA reporter Sekou Smith receives tributes after his death

Sekou Smith

Beloved NBA TV reporter Sekou Smith died due to complications from COVID-19. The popular reporter received numerous tributes online following his death at age 48.

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr called it “crushing news” and said Sekou has been part of the NBA family for a long time.

Numerous fellow reporters and members of the media shared their thoughts on the late Smith.

Last week, Stan Van Gundy sent his thoughts about Smith, when the reporter was battling COVID. Unfortunately, Smith has died.

Smith was a Senior Analyst for NBA Digital and had been with Turner since 2009. Prior to that, he covered the Hawks for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the Pacers for the Indianapolis Star. He was a graduate of Jackson State University.

Report: ESPN interested in adding Philip Rivers to broadcast team

Philip Rivers

Philip Rivers appeared to have his post-NFL career sorted out, but it sounds like another very notable option is available to him.

The veteran NFL quarterback has attracted the interest of ESPN, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post. While the network initially wants to gauge Rivers’ interest in an NFL analyst role, they would be open to putting him in the broadcast booth for games if he had an interest in that.

For now, ESPN is prepared to stick with the team of Steve Levy, Louis Riddick, and Brian Griese for “Monday Night Football,” feeling that the trio will continue to build chemistry the more they work together.

It’s not really clear if Rivers would be interested in any of this. He already has a job lined up post-retirement that he seems very passionate about. Still, ESPN will do its due diligence, even if they get turned down.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan criticized for tweets about Hank Aaron

Jeff Passan

Hundreds of sports reporters paid tribute to Hank Aaron on Friday after hearing the news that the MLB legend has died, and Jeff Passan was among them. The ESPN insider regrets the way he went about it, however.

Passan sent a tweet about Aaron that called the one-time home run king a “true American hero.” He also tried to call attention to how Aaron was subject to racism in the deep south. Many were offended with the way Passan worded the tweet, as he said Hammerin’ Hank “ignored hate as he conquered baseball.”

The backlash led to Passan sending a follow-up in which he tried to explain why he used the word “ignored.”

“The use of ignored here was meant to convey Henry’s ability not (to) allow the awful things people said and did to shake him publicly,” Passan wrote. “That was a sliver of his reality and one I could’ve worded better. He endured hated, he fought hatred, he braved hatred. And he deserved none of it.”

That didn’t improve things for Passan. He was then ripped for referring to racism as a “sliver” of Aaron’s reality, and he decided to delete both tweets. You can see screenshots of them below:

Bleacher Report’s Master Tesfatsion was among those who ripped Passan. He called the tweets an example of “white people trying to wax poetically about racism.” Others said Passan was trying to minimize the role racism played in Aaron’s life and MLB career.

Passan eventually deleted the tweets and issued an apology. He included a link to two books about Aaron, one of which is the slugger’s autobiography.

It seems obvious that Passan’s intentions were good, but unfortunately he did not convey his thoughts the way he wanted to. Between the Aaron tweets and his animated feud with a radio host earlier in the week, it has been a rough few days for the MLB insider.

Jeff Passan, radio host Craig Carton in big feud over Jared Porter story

Craig Carton

WFAN radio host Craig Carton has been highly critical this week of the way ESPN handled its bombshell story about former New York Mets general manager Jared Porter. Now, what began as some on-air criticism from Carton has turned into a rather animated feud.

Carton and Evan Roberts, who host the “Carton & Roberts Show” together, ripped ESPN earlier in the week for what they perceived as the network sitting on a sexual harassment story for years and then releasing it at an opportune time. Carton also accused Passan of taking credit for a story that Passan’s co-worker, Mina Kimes, had been working on.

As you might expect, none of that sat well with Passan. The longtime MLB reporter appeared on “The Michael Kay Show” Tuesday and unloaded on Carton and Roberts for their remarks. He explained that the timing of ESPN’s story was dictated by the woman who was harassed by Porter, not ESPN. Passan called the claims from Carton and Roberts “the most giant load of irresponsible garbage that I have heard in a long time.”

“The story waits for when the person whose it is, is ready to tell it. And so, she waited, and she left the industry where she was worried she was going to have backlash and potentially have her job harmed,” Passan explained, as transcribed by Zach Braziller of the New York Post. “And she saw Jared Porter’s rise to general manager of the New York Mets, putting him in a position of great power and great authority, and thought to herself, ‘This man, who has his dream job, ended up facilitating me losing my dream job. And I didn’t do anything … I didn’t do anything.’

“And so the idea that this story, four-and-a-half years after this incident happened, has any less resonance, has any less importance, and has any less right to be told — anybody who thinks that needs to shut up.”

You can hear Passan’s full comments below:

Those who are familiar with Carton won’t be surprised to hear that he did not back down. He called Passan a “whiny little weasel” on his Wednesday show and sent several tweets ripping the reporter before that. Carton accused ESPN of not caring about Porter’s victim and said some might call it sexist that Kimes was “forced to share credit for that story with senior male reporter,” referring to Passan.

Here are some of the tweets:

Passan said Kimes had been working on the story since 2017 and that he contributed to the reporting more recently.

Porter was fired by the Mets on Tuesday in the wake of the allegations. He is accused of harassing a foreign female reporter with several text messages and an explicit photo.

Carton returned to WFAN late last year after he spent time in federal prison for running a fraudulent ticket scheme. He has always been known for his unapologetic approach, so the back-and-forth with Passan is right on brand.

Andy Reid even fooled Tony Romo on Chiefs’ big 4th down play

Andy Reid fools Tony Romo

One of the reasons Tony Romo is so good at his job is that he always seems to know which play is coming, but even he was fooled when the Kansas City Chiefs sealed their win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

With Chad Henne in at quarterback for an injured Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid decided to go for it on 4th-and-inches rather than giving the ball back to the Browns. Romo and many others thought Kansas City was just going to try to get Cleveland to jump, call timeout and punt. Before the ball was snapped, Romo said he could tell by the body language of Chiefs players that there was not going to be a play.

“You’re trying to draw them offsides, take a timeout, let the clock tick. Try to draw them offsides. Try to draw them offsides,” Romo said, via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk. “No play, everybody. There’s no play. Just look at the body language.”

Romo was wrong. As you can see in the video below, the Chiefs snapped it and Henne completed a pass to Tyreek Hill.

Romo was glad he was fooled. He went absolutely bananas over the playcall.

Reid’s gutsy call was the right one, even with Patrick Mahomes in the locker room because a scary injury he suffered.

The fact that Reid fooled Romo is pretty impressive. Romo has made a living of correctly predicting plays (here is an example), so he’s not caught off-guard very often.

Chiefs fans, you’ll love this Andy Reid cheeseburger shirt. Reid loves his cheeseburgers, and you can wear it. This makes a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

Tony Romo drops ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ reference after Patrick Mahomes TD

Patrick Mahomes wasted no time finding the end zone in the Kansas City Chiefs’ game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, and the way he celebrated paved the way for Tony Romo to deliver an outstanding pop culture reference.

Mahomes heaved the ball into the stands at Arrowhead Stadium after he rushed for a 1-yard touchdown to give the Chiefs an early 6-0 lead. Jim Nantz noted on the CBS broadcast that the ball landed somewhere near the last row of the upper deck. Romo chimed in that Mahomes could “throw it over those mountains over there” if he wanted to.

Those who have seen “Napoleon Dynamite” immediately got the reference. Romo was doing his best Uncle Rico impression.

Add that to the growing list of reasons we love Romo. Between that and his hilarious sexual innuendo last week, Romo has been on fire during the playoffs.

Pam Oliver did not sound like herself during FOX broadcast

Pam Oliver

Pam Oliver is one of the most accomplished sideline reporters to have covered the NFL, which is why fans were concerned when she did not sound like herself on Saturday.

Oliver was assigned to cover the NFC Divisional Round playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams. Usually an extremely sharp reporter, Oliver’s speech was staggered.

In a postgame interview with Aaron Jones, Oliver’s speech was unclear.

Viewers noticed that right away that Oliver did not sound right.

Fans were similarly concerned during the fall when ESPN’s Todd McShay did not sound right on air, so this isn’t the first time we’ve seen something similar.

There was some speculation that Oliver was affected by the cold in Green Bay. But Kristina Pink, who was also reporting from the sideline, sounds like her normal self, and the temperatures were above freezing. Let’s hope all is well with Oliver, who is 59 and has been with FOX for over 25 years.

Tony Romo will reportedly call Bears-Saints playoff game from home

Tony Romo

CBS will have to get creative this weekend when broadcasting the playoff game between the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints.

Tony Romo will be unable to travel to New Orleans to call the game in person due to COVID-19 protocols. Subsequently, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, Romo will call the game remotely from Dallas while Jim Nantz broadcasts from New Orleans. This possibility was floated earlier in the week as well.

Essentially, CBS is emulating what ESPN did when Kirk Herbstreit tested positive for COVID-19. That broadcast went out without a hitch, and if you didn’t actually see the image of Herbstreit broadcasting from home, you likely wouldn’t have known it.

Romo is one of the most popular broadcasters in sports. After missing Week 17’s broadcast due to COVID-19 protocols, there was no way he was going to miss out on calling a playoff game.

Tony Romo could call Saints-Bears playoff game remotely

Tony Romo

Tony Romo was unable to call Sunday’s game between the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals due to COVID-19 protocols, and it’s possible he still won’t be cleared when the postseason kicks off this weekend. That does not mean he will miss another broadcast, however.

Romo could call Sunday’s CBS playoff game between the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints remotely, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports. If Romo is not cleared, CBS would likely set up a studio at his home in Dallas so he can still work the game with partner Jim Nantz.

ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit called Saturday’s College Football Playoff semifinal between Ohio State and Clemson from his home after he tested positive for COVID-19. Play-by-play announcer Chris Fowler was on site for the game in New Orleans.

A spokesperson for CBS told the New York Post that the network will announce its official plans for Sunday’s Bears-Saints broadcast later in the week.

CBS did not say whether Romo tested positive for COVID-19. As long as he is feeling well, it would be a surprise if the network did not find a way to accommodate having Romo call Sunday’s game. You don’t pay as much as CBS is paying Romo to have him sit on the sidelines for a playoff game.

ESPN fooled by Chan Gailey news on fake Adam Schefter account

Adam Schefter

Adam Schefter is one of the most well known sports reporters in the world, which is why countless people have been duped by social media accounts from people who are posing as the ESPN insider. Now, even Schefter’s own employer has fallen for a fake Schefter tweet.

On Monday, a fake Schefter Twitter account “reported” that the Miami Dolphins have fired offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. The tweet came from one of those accounts that uses the same avatar as Schefter, which makes it confusing. The account was not verified, however, and had a handle that read @TuaNeedsHelp.

Unfortunately for ESPN, someone at the company missed those important details. That led to ESPN publishing a story about Gailey being fired and attributing it to Schefter. The false report was also shared on the air during “SportsCenter.”

Yikes.

Several major outlets picked up on the story before ESPN realized the error. They then published a follow-up correcting it, which was shared by the real Schefter.

“The story has been removed from ESPN.com, and replaced with this correction. The story was also mentioned on the 1 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter,” the correction read. “No ESPN reporters reported on Gailey or the Dolphins, or were involved in the error, which was made internally. ESPN regrets the error.”

This certainly isn’t the first time we have seen NFL news circulate because of a fake tweet. You can see another fairly recent example here.

What makes this particular incident so unusual is that ESPN was duped by an account posing as its own reporter. Welcome to 2021.