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#pounditSaturday, October 1, 2022

Media

Rachel Nichols lands new sports media gig

Rachel Nichols holding a microphone

Mar 19, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; truTV broadcaster Rachel Nichols (center) interviews Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller (left) against the Texas Southern Tigers during the first half in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rachel Nichols has laid low for most of 2022, but now she is officially back.

Showtime Basketball announced on Friday their hiring of the former ESPN host Nichols. The network said in a release that Nichols will serve as both a host and a producer for them, contributing to multiple programs and projects across multiple platforms (per Awful Announcing).

SI’s Chris Mannix further reports that the plan is for Nichols to eventually host a monthly basketball program for Showtime Basketball.

Showtime’s basketball wing, best known for the popular podcast “All The Smoke” hosted by former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, is rapidly growing. Retired Basketball Hall of Famers like Kevin Garnett, Allen Iverson, and Paul Pierce have also done projects with the network.

As for Nichols, this is the first that we have heard from her since she officially parted ways with ESPN in January. Though she had spent over a decade with ESPN and become one of their most prominent personalities, the network removed her from their programming following controversial leaked comments Nichols made about former colleague Maria Taylor.

After a roughly nine-month absence though, Nichols has returned and looks poised for a major role with Showtime Basketball.

Richard Sherman disappoints during Amazon halftime show

Richard Sherman at a press conference

Jan 27, 2020; Miami, FL, USA; San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman during Super Bowl LIV Opening Night at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Richard Sherman proved to be a disappointment during Amazon’s halftime show of the Week 4 “Thursday Night Football” game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins.

The story of the first half was Tua Tagovailoa being taken off the field on a stretcher after suffering a clear concussion in the second quarter. The circumstances surrounding Tagovailoa’s concussion make it a major story.

Tagovailoa was controversially cleared to return to the Dolphins’ Week 3 win over the Bills only four days earlier. The NFLPA wants an investigation into the circumstances for how Tagovailoa was cleared.

Given the murky situation in Week 3 on Sunday, there were some who felt Tagovailoa should not have been playing on Thursday or returned for the second half of the Bills game. So when Tagovailoa suffered the concussion on Thursday night, many immediately criticized the Dolphins and NFL for the way they handled the young quarterback.

The people who didn’t criticize the team or league were all on Amazon’s halftime show. In fact, they didn’t even bring up Tagovailoa’s Week 3 situation as part of the context for the Week 4 concussion.

What’s extremely surprising is that Sherman was silent on the matter at a time when many people were thinking about it or could have benefitted from the important context.

Sherman was an outspoken player throughout his career and remains an extreme player advocate. In 2016, he wrote an article declaring that he hated “Thursday Night Football” because of how brutal it is on player health.

How could this same man then not even bring up during the halftime show that Tagovailoa playing in the game — especially on the short week — might have been a bad idea given the circumstances?

The Amazon halftime crew is not naiive. They know what happened with Tagovailoa. It was mentioned in the pregame show. For them to completely ignore the matter during halftime seems to indicate they were given instructions to avoid making the league and Dolphins look bad.

Sherman targeted the NFL as hard as anyone during his playing career. Now that he is indirectly working for the league, he’s showing how hypocritical he is by backing off.

ESPN’s Mike Breen has home destroyed in fire

Mike Breen calls a game

Nov 13, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; ESPN play-by-play commentator Mike Breen looks on during a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center. The Lakers won 120-94. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Longtime ESPN announcer Mike Breen had his home destroyed in a massive fire over the weekend, but fortunately there were no injuries.

Breen’s home in Long Island, N.Y., caught fire early Sunday morning, according to a report from TMZ. No one was in the residence at the time, but the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department received calls from neighbors alerting them of the blaze. Firefighters say they “encountered a fully involved house fire” when they arrived at the scene.

TMZ shared a video of the blaze that was captured at the scene. The fire is under investigation.

ESPN released a statement on Thursday confirming the bad news.

“Mike is a cherished member of the ESPN family and he knows he has our full support through this excruciating circumstance,” the statement read. “We know the damage is devastating, and at the same time, we are grateful that he and his family are safe.”

Breen has been with ESPN since 2003. He calls the network’s biggest NBA games alongside Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy. He is also the voice of the New York Knicks on MSG Network. The 61-year-old and his famous “bang!” calls missed some time during the NBA Finals this year.

LIV Golf disputes FOX report

Greg Norman at a LIV Golf event

Sep 3, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Greg Norman CEO of LIV Golf before the second round of the LIV Golf tournament at The International. Mandatory Credit: Richard Cashin-USA TODAY Sports

A report this week claimed that LIV Golf is nearing a deal with FOX to air its events, but the Saudi-backed league insists that is untrue.

Golfweek reported on Tuesday that LIV has almost completed a deal with FOX to pay the network for air time and have LIV events broadcast on FOX Sports 1. LIV would also be responsible for all production costs and selling advertisement.

LIV Golf issued a statement on Wednesday calling the Golfweek report “incomplete and inaccurate.”

“As we have stated previously, LIV Golf is just beginning its process and is in active discussions with several companies about broadcasting the LIV Golf League,” the statement said, via The Associated Press. “We caution that no one should draw any conclusions about potential media rights given that we are still in the middle of negotiations with several outlets.”

LIV CEO and commissioner Greg Norman said earlier this month that the league was negotiating with four different networks about potential TV rights deals. It is possible that those negotiations are still ongoing. LIV executives probably also do not like the optics of the public knowing they may have to pay a TV network to air their events. Typically, the network pays for the rights to air sporting events, not the other way around.

LIV events have only been streamed online thus far. The league is in desperate need of TV exposure, which is why it would not be a surprise if they pay FOX for it. One streaming service reportedly turned down LIV for being “too toxic,” so their options seem limited.

NFL reporter has great reaction to husband catching Aaron Judge home run ball

Matt Buschmann holds a ball

FOX NFL reporter Sara Walsh had a great reaction to her husband recovering Aaron Judge’s record-tying home run ball.

Walsh’s husband is Toronto Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann. After Judge’s 61st home run ricocheted off the wall in front of the left field stands and into the bullpen, Buschmann caught it.

Walsh learned about her husband recovering the home run ball and cracked a joke about retiring early.

Walsh then joked that she was going to file for divorce after learning Buschmann handed the ball over to the Yankees.

Walsh, 44, has been an NFL reporter for FOX since 2018. Buschmann, 38, was a pitcher for the Diamondbacks and has been a coach for the Jays since 2019.

Report: LIV Golf near deal to buy air time on FOX

Greg Norman in a hat

Jul 1, 2022; Portland, Oregon, USA; Greg Norman, CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf, looks on during the second round of the LIV Golf tournament at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

A major factor in LIV Golf achieving success as a rival to the PGA Tour is their ability to generate revenue through a TV package. Though LIV has yet to find a TV home, they may be close to securing a temporary arrangement.

Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch reported on Tuesday that LIV Golf is nearing a deal with FOX to air its events. However, unlike most TV deals where the network pays to air the sporting event, LIV would be paying FOX for the air time.

In addition to paying for its air time, LIV would be responsible for all production costs and selling advertisement.

The one benefit to LIV is that FOX reportedly offered to re-evaluate the network’s TV placement of LIV events in the future.

LIV having to buy air time reflects poorly upon the league and could result in some initial embarrassment, but such a move is not unusual for new leagues. The Alliance of American Football (AAF) bought air time during its only season in 2018.

Additionally, Peter Kostis pointed out that the Ryder Cup paid for air time before being able to receive a rights fee.

LIV Golf reportedly negotiated with Apple but was turned down because they were deemed “too toxic.”

LIV Golf has streamed its events online this year, which is its first ever season. They have numerous top players under contract, such as Dustin Johnson, Cam Smith, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau.

Video: Joe Buck makes great allusion to infamous Artie Lange interview

Joe Buck laughs

Joe Buck on Monday night made a great allusion to his infamous interview with Artie Lange.

Buck was interviewing ABC talk show host Jimmy Kimmel during halftime of the “Monday Night Football” game between the Giants and Cowboys. Kimmel threw Buck a funny line, asking him “is it true the reason you quit Fox is because Terry smelled like old corn cobs?”

Buck started laughing and then admitted he was having flashbacks to another show he hosted in New York.

The other show he hosted in New York was the short-lived “Joe Buck Live.”

Buck hosted a live talk show for HBO in 2009 that lasted three episodes. In the show’s debut episode, Buck was joined by guests Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis and comedian Lange. Lange was instructed to go nuts and liven things up if the segment started to get too boring. He did just that and effectively took over the show, turning it into a roast of Buck. He also facetiously but presciently predicted that the show wouldn’t reach its fourth episode; he was right.

The interview with Kimmel didn’t quite go down that path, but the corn cobs line was pretty funny.

Also, Lange was great in that interview. And if you haven’t seen his movie “Beer League,” you should. It’s underrated but a classic.

JJ Redick getting significantly expanded role with ESPN

JJ Redick warms up before a game

Apr 12, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard JJ Redick (17) warms up before the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN appears to think it has a rising star on its hands after giving JJ Redick a significantly expanded role in NBA coverage for the upcoming season.

ESPN announced Monday that Redick signed a multi-year contract with the network that will see his responsibilities increase. The 15-year NBA veteran, whose first season of media work was last year, will take on an increased role as a game analyst, and will also become a bigger part of the network’s NBA Draft coverage.

Redick had been seeking to do more live games and ESPN accommodated him, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post. Redick will be paired with Richard Jefferson as part of a three-person booth, and will do a minimum of 25 live games per season. He will also be seen on ESPN’s other programming, including “SportsCenter” and “First Take.” The former Duke star will also continue hosting his popular “The Old Man and the Three” podcast.

Redick has clearly impressed the network, and fans seem to like his sharp analysis and wit. He also has shown himself capable of delivering some of the bold, controversial takes the network loves from its personalities.

Steve Kerr calls out Stephen A. Smith over his Warriors reporting

Stephen A Smith reports from the sideline

Dec 18, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith broadcasts before a game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen A. is getting called out this week by Stevie K.

Appearing on a recent episode of The Athletic’s “The TK Show,” Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr responded to a recent claim that ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith made on “First Take.” Smith passed along an unflattering report about young Warriors big man Jonathan Kuminga alleging that Kuminga’s work ethic and focus were not up to par.

“I know there was that weird report that came out, I think Stephen A. Smith said something about JK,” said Kerr in response. “Honestly, [Warriors GM] Bob [Myers] and I, when that came out, called each other and asked each other, ‘Where did that come from?’ Because it made no sense.

“JK’s been great,” Kerr added about Kuminga. “He’s done everything we’ve asked of him, he’s worked hard, I enjoy coaching him. He’s right where he needs to be and he’s gotta just keep getting better every day. But we’re very happy with his summer and everything he’s committed to.”

Kuminga, who is still only 19, was the Warriors’ No. 7 overall pick in last year’s draft. An energizing talent, especially around the basket, Kuminga earned enough of Kerr’s trust to make 70 appearances last season and even a handful of starts (including three during the Warriors’ playoff run).

Smith’s negative report about Kuminga has largely been an isolated one. Meanwhile, Kerr’s comments come after another Warriors figure also attacked Smith over the claim.

Yankees announcer takes classy stance amid Aaron Judge chase

Michael Kay on the mic

New York Yankees TV announcer Michael Kay is taking a classy stance amid Aaron Judge’s home run chase.

Judge has hit 60 home runs this season and is chasing Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season. Each game in which Judge participates for the rest of the regular season will draw plenty of fan interest, and therefore becomes a valuable TV property.

Friday’s Yankees-Red Sox game is set to air exclusively on Apple TV+. Though the game is available without charge to anyone with the Apple TV app and an account for said app, many fans are upset that the new streaming service will exclusively air the game.

AppleTV+ Friday night baseball broadcasts have been heavily criticized, largely because of their poor broadcasting teams. In short, baseball fans are used to listening to their local TV announcers every day, so they’re already irritated that they don’t get to hear their usual announcers. But instead of recognizing and understanding this and just giving baseball fans as straightforward of a call as possible, Apple has tried to reinvent the wheel with 3-person broadcasting teams full of inexperienced announcers. The complaints about their broadcasting teams and statistically-oriented graphics have been persistent.

Naturally, Yankees fans have complained about the game only being available on AppleTV rather than their typical home on YES Network. They’re also upset that Apple TV’s announcers will potentially be calling Judge’s record-tying and record-breaking home runs rather than Kay.

The Yankees understood the matter and reportedly were trying to talk with Apple about a trade, or to allow Kay to call Friday’s game. Kay says he doesn’t want to do that.

Kay wasn’t approached about calling the game for Apple TV+, but he told his bosses at YES Network that he didn’t want the gig because he didn’t want to steal away an opportunity from Apple play-by-play announcer Stephen Nelson.

“I’m extremely flattered that the Yankees and Yankee fans wanted me to make the call, but I just didn’t feel right about it. I would be hurt if it happened to me, and although I don’t really know Stephen, I respect his position and he has earned the right to call the game,” Kay told Front Office Sports.

That’s a thoughtful and classy attitude from Kay, but it won’t help most fans. Baseball fans don’t like the Apple TV+ telecasts. Their worst nightmare is to have an important moment in baseball history broadcast by Apple TV+.