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#pounditTuesday, November 30, 2021

Media

Mike Tirico in for Al Michaels on ‘Sunday Night Football’ call

Mike Tirico holds a microphone

Mike Tirico was on the call for the “Sunday Night Football” game in Baltimore during Week 12 between the Ravens and Cleveland Browns, replacing Al Michaels.

Michaels typically announces “Sunday Night Football,” but he has picked and chosen which games he wants to call in recent years. Sometimes he chooses not to make certain road trips to the East Coast. He also has opted to have some holidays off. That was the case this weekend.

Tirico, Cris Collinsworth and Kathryn Tappen formed the announcing team for the Week 12 Sunday night game. Tirico noted in his open that Michaels and Michele Tafoya were enjoying the rest of their holiday weekend.

NBC actually had double duty in Week 12. They televised the Thursday night Thanksgiving game between the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints as well. Tirico, Collinsworth and Tafoya were on the call for that game.

Tirico is in line to replace Michaels on “Sunday Night Football” when the veteran broadcaster’s contract with NBC ends after this season. Michaels, 77, is expected to become the announcer for Amazon’s Thursday night games. He also could have a role with NBC calling playoff games.

Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Schefter ruthlessly mocked over Kliff Kingsbury-Oklahoma report

Adam Schefter

Lincoln Riley stunned the sports world on Sunday when he agreed to become the next head coach at USC. One report claimed Oklahoma is targeting Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury to be Riley’s replacement, but most people found that laughable. That led to ESPN’s Adam Schefter feeling the wrath of Twitter.

Shortly after the Riley news broke, Schefter reported that Oklahoma is eyeing Kingsbury as a coaching candidate. The NFL insider also noted that Kingsbury’s current contract with the Cardinals expires after 2022. The latter piece of information is the one people felt was most important.

With Kingsbury almost certainly seeking a new deal from the Cardinals, it would make sense for his camp to leak information about Oklahoma having interest in him. Schefter was accused of being a mouthpiece and mocked on Twitter.

Now, that’s not to say Oklahoma doesn’t want Kingsbury. They would gladly hire him if he had interest in the job, but why would he? The Cardinals are 9-2 and one of the best teams in the NFC. They also have a young franchise quarterback in Kyler Murray. Kingsbury would be voluntarily taking a demotion if he left a good NFL team for Oklahoma.

When someone inevitably asks Kingsbury about the Oklahoma rumors, don’t be surprised if he responds the same way Mike Tomlin did when he was linked to the USC job.

Longtime Alabama reporter Cecil Hurt dies due to pneumonia complications

Cecil Hurt smiling

Longtime Alabama reporter Cecil Hurt died on Tuesday due to complications related to pneumonia. He was 62.

Hurt covered Alabama football and basketball for the Tuscaloosa News since 1982. He graduated from Alabama in 1981 and began writing for the Tuscaloosa News a year later. He had been on the job covering the Crimson Tide for nearly 40 years, which is why so many were concerned to learn about his health.

A note was posted on Hurt’s Twitter page on Nov. 10 that shared he was hospitalized with pneumonia.

Hurt’s condition worsened and he died on Tuesday. A note was posted on his Twitter page regarding the news.

Hurt had been actively tweeting from his account as recently as Nov. 6 and 7 regarding Alabama athletics. To think he would be dead just two and a half weeks later is hard to believe.

TideSports.com posted more on Hurt’s life and professional career.

Report: Troy Aikman is top target for NFL analyst job

Troy Aikman in a suit

Amazon will begin streaming “Thursday Night Football” exclusively next season, and the company is focused on trying to attract top talent to the booth. Troy Aikman may be the latest target.

Amazon wants to hire Troy Aikman as lead NFL analyst, according to Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports. The ultimate goal would be to pair Aikman with legendary play-by-play announcer Al Michaels, who is widely expected to leave NBC following the 2021 season.

Aikman has called games for FOX alongside Joe Buck since 2002. Many Thursday night games are simulcast on NFL Network and FOX, so Aikman has already been working them.

Eric Weinberger, the former executive vice president of NFL Network, told McCarthy he believes an Aikman-Michaels pairing would be “phenomenal” and the “gold standard of the National Football League.”

Whether it is realistic is another question. Aikman seems unlikely to leave FOX to call one game a week, though it’s possible he could work both gigs.

Michaels has been calling “Sunday Night Football” since 2006. He was with ESPN/ABC for “Monday Night Football” from 1986-2005 prior to that. He and longtime partner Cris Collinsworth will call the Super Bowl this year, and there has been speculation that Michaels could retire after that. He said before the season that he is not thinking about what comes next. However, a report earlier this season claimed he is very likely to be hired by Amazon.

If Aikman does leave FOX, one fellow former quarterback has been mentioned as a potential replacement.

Kevin Durant takes issue with Warriors writer’s column

Kevin Durant in Nets practice gear

Kevin Durant had an issue with the media. What else is new?

Ahead of Tuesday’s nationally-televised game between the Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets, San Jose Mercury News columnist Dieter Kurtenbach argued that the Warriors were “winning the breakup with Kevin Durant.”

The premise is that Durant left the Warriors to form a superteam in Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving. Golden State lost in the NBA Finals in the 2018-2019 season before Durant left. Though the Warriors were the worst team in the league the following season and missed the playoffs last season, they have the best record in the league this season.

The Nets have made the playoffs in both seasons since Durant signed with them, though he didn’t play in the first season because he was recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. The Nets were eliminated in the conference semifinals last year.

Durant must have seen the article and not have cared for it. He “liked” several tweets criticizing the article.

It’s easy to see Durant’s point. He didn’t leave the Warriors because he was looking to prove he was better off without them. He wasn’t trying to win any breakup. He left because he had moved on and just wanted to go play with one of his friends on a new team in New York. That was it. He’s probably happy for the Warriors that they are doing well. In a head-to-head, he wants to beat them, but he’s not using them as a measuring stick and trying to win a breakup.

Then again, the article wasn’t written for Durant, but for Warriors fans. Warriors fans probably love reading and being told that they have won a breakup, because they’re the ones who were offended by KD leaving.

The Warriors got the edge in Tuesday’s matchup, winning 117-99. They are now 12-2.

Photo: May 8, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) warms up before game against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Broadcasting legend to make guest appearance on ‘ManningCast’

Peyton and Eli Manning on the ManningCast

Peyton and Eli Manning will once again entertain fans on Monday night with their “ManningCast” production, and they have secured another great guest appearance.

Al Michaels is scheduled to make a “ManningCast” appearance during the first quarter of the Los Angeles Rams-San Francisco 49ers game, Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports.

Michaels, of course, is the longtime play-by-play announce for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” He gave us another one of his legendary subtle gambling references during the Kansas City Chiefs’ blowout win over the Las Vegas Raiders. Fans will want to tune in to see what the 77-year-old comes up with in a far more relaxed setting.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Philip Rivers will also be a guest on the ESPN2 broadcast.

The Mannings have had some great guests all season long, but Michaels and Rivers might want to be careful. There’s already a “ManningCast Curse,” and it seems to be very real.

Al Michaels had perfect gambling reference at end of ‘Sunday Night Football’

Al Michaels in a suit and tie

Al Michaels delivered a fun gambling reference late in the game on “Sunday Night Football.”

The legendary NBC announcer was chatting with his broadcasting partner Cris Collinsworth with about 2:30 left in the Kansas City Chiefs’ 41-14 win over the Las Vegas Raiders. Michaels knows that those who are tuned in to a blowout game late typically have a vested interested due to gambling, such as the spread or over/under. However, neither gambling lines were at stake during the blowout.

“We’re in Vegas, I wish I could tell you that something was in play. But this game is over. We know it’s been over, with a capital “O.” And the cover. You know what I’m talking about!” Michaels said.

The way Michaels is able to relate to the viewers, and understand what they’re watching for, is part of his charm and what makes him so great. But one of the funny aspects of this is that unlike when Michaels would slip in his gambling allusions 10 years ago, the NFL is no longer afraid of gambling. They have not just embraced it, they are openly invested in it and promoting it. That makes Michaels’ sly approach somewhat outdated, but still very much enjoyable.

Photo: Aug 26, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Network television commentator Al Michaels before the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

H/T Will Brinson

Packers, Seahawks game on CBS had fans all thrown off

Packers Seahawks game on CBS

Sports fans are creatures of habit. They’re used to turning on TNT or ESPN for NBA games. They’re used to putting on CBS to watch a big SEC game. And they’re used to putting on FOX for an NFC football game.

That’s why Sunday’s matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks was so disorienting.

FOX has traditionally televised big NFC games, while CBS gets big AFC games. That tradition has existed for over 25 years but has changed recently, where FOX and CBS were allowed to cross-flex games.

Fans better get used to seeing these sorts of things, like Tony Romo and Jim Nantz calling a Packers-Seahawks game for CBS rather than Joe Buck and Troy Aikman calling it for FOX. Because when the new NFL TV deal takes effect in 2023, the network/conference TV affiliation is expected to disappear.

Is nothing sacred anymore?

Dave Portnoy shares proof that woman behind allegations had axe to grind

Dave Portnoy

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy has been vehemently defending himself since a Business Insider takedown attempt was published last week. On Thursday, Portnoy addressed the allegations against him via a lengthy live video stream posted on social media.

In the Business Insider piece (which is paywalled and was used as a tool to try and sign up subscribers), Portnoy is accused of humiliating and having rough sex with two young women in separate incidents.

One of the women, a 20-year-old who is referred to as “Madison” in the story, says she connected with Portnoy over social media. Portnoy eventually bought her a plane ticket and invited her to his home in Nantucket, Mass.

The woman told BI she had a “traumatic experience” that ended with her sleeping on Portnoy’s couch for two nights before she flew home.

The woman told BI she “kept trying to get away” from Portnoy while the two were having sex and that he said “stop running away from me” and refused to stop. Portnoy has adamantly denied those allegations. However, Portnoy stated that the woman in question indeed slept on his couch. But Portnoy says the woman slept on his couch due to an argument the two had over their differing views on life, not because of sex issues.

Portnoy expounded on the matter Thursday during his Twitter Live session. The Barstool Sports founder also shared what he believes is proof that the woman had an axe to grind against him due to her political stance.

Portnoy received attention in July 2020 for a highly-publicized interview he conducted with Donald Trump ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Portnoy says the interview occurred three days after his interaction with Madison.

In his Thursday live session, Portnoy stated his belief that Madison became furious to learn that Portnoy was not radically anti-Trump the way she was.

“People think I’m like some crazy Trump guy. I am not,” Portnoy stated on Thursday. “I don’t like either extreme. This girl was extreme, extreme, extreme, extreme (politically). … I wasn’t gonna get into the politics of it. I didn’t want to bring that into it, but that is why we did not agree.”

Portnoy described his conversation that led to the woman sleeping on his couch as “vicious.”

“It was a vicious conversation, and we did not like each other after [our political conversation],” Portnoy contended Thursday.

These aren’t just Portnoy’s personal views on the matter, either. He shared past tweets from the woman that support his claim.

Portnoy says his interview with Trump was three days after he had sex with Madison. In one Instagram post, the woman shared a photo of Portnoy and Trump together and wrote, “Ok. Not my proudest f—.”

In a second Instagram post, the woman criticized Portnoy and threatened to expose him “if he ever truly pisses me off.”

“Portnoy was a d— and lame and grumpy. He gets a 2/10 from me. If he ever truly pis-es me off I have lots of content to expose him with. I am going to stick to the athletes,” the woman wrote.

During his live session, Portnoy shared screenshots of the woman’s Instagram posts, though he blurred out her username.

Madison also responded to a tweet where Portnoy bragged about his net worth being $118 million. She replied “Venmo” and listed what was presumably her Venmo account name. She seemed to be implying that Portnoy should send her money.

Business Insider omitted all of this context from its hit piece on the Barstool Sports founder.

A good portion of BI’s story was regurgitated criticisms of Barstool Sports published in other media outlets over the years. Then the majority of the remaining portions of BI’s article stemmed from Madison’s issues with Portnoy.

Since BI published its hit piece on Portnoy, which they have used to run ads on Twitter in hopes of gaining subscribers, Portnoy has pointed out other significant issues with the outlet’s takedown attempt.

Portnoy posted screenshots of messages he received from women who warned him about the author of the story contacting them. The women shared with Portnoy that the writer of the BI piece, Julia Black, seemed to have an agenda and was hunting for people who would bad-mouth Portnoy.

Portnoy shared that he believes Black was biased against him, already arrived at the conclusion that he was terrible, and that she worked backwards from there, looking for any sort of evidence that would support her takedown attempt. He noted that Nantucket police said Black did not contact them to verify a claim she included in her story.

Since the story’s publication, Portnoy has questioned other ethical/journalistic issues involving Business Insider’s dealings.

Portnoy pointed out that there was unusual trading activity involving his company’s publicly-traded stock (symbol: PENN) the day the story came out (which also coincided with the day Penn National Gaming reported its quarterly earnings). Portnoy shared speculation that either those at Business Insider who knew the outlet was about to publish a takedown piece against him either profited themselves, or shared information with other people, who then placed stock bets against PENN that paid off when the stock dropped around 20 percent the day the piece was published. (Note: the stock may have dropped due to a combination of the company’s earnings report and the publication of the takedown story.)

Portnoy pointed out that Business Insider’s CEO has been found guilty of securities violations and banned from the securities industry.

Portnoy also alleged that Business Insider was proactively alerting Barstool Sports advertisers that they were working on a follow-up piece on Barstool. Portnoy believes that was Business Insider’s attempt to get advertisers to “cancel” Barstool.

The full video of Portnoy defending himself is below.

Disclosure: Steve DelVecchio and Larry Brown own shares of PENN stock.

Adam Schefter addresses his reporting of Dalvin Cook allegations

Adam Schefter

ESPN’s Adam Schefter addressed his reporting on allegations involving Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook on Wednesday.

Schefter appeared on Wednesday evening’s “SportsCenter” to give the latest update about where Cook stands with the NFL amid allegations of domestic abuse. At the end of his report, he addressed criticism of how he went about initially reporting the story.

“In a case like this, it’s important to reach out to all sides for information and comment,” Schefter said. “When I got the information the other night, I didn’t do that, and I could have done a better job reaching out to the other people, especially on a story as sensitive and as significant as this. Didn’t do that properly, and it’s a reminder to slow down in this world.”

Schefter received some criticism for how he broke the Cook story on Tuesday. While he was the first to break the story, Schefter initially presented one sentence from Cook’s attorney regarding the matter. He did not include any details or context about the matter, and he did not note that the story was an allegation. He also did not include any comment from the alleged perpetrator’s side.

When details and evidence surfaced as part of Gracelyn Trimble’s allegations against Cook, it made it look like Schefter had set the narrative by only reporting Cook’s side of the story without any further context.

Cook has been accused of assaulting Trimble, his ex-girlfriend, last November. Cook alleges that Trimble entered his home without permission, maced him and his friends, and held them at gunpoint. More evidence on both sides continues to emerge publicly.