Rachel Nichols made some remarks about Maria Taylor last year that she was unaware were being recorded, and the comments have reportedly caused an internal rift at ESPN.
The New York Times released on audio clip on Sunday that claims to feature Nichols’ private — or so she believed — thoughts on losing out on the NBA Finals hosting gig job to Taylor last year. Nichols reportedly forgot to turn off her camera while filming “The Jump” inside her hotel room at the Walt Disney World bubble.
The clip, which you can listen to below, shows Nichols expressing frustration that ESPN gave Taylor the NBA Finals job. She suggested that the network should have instead made Taylor its NBA Finals sideline reporter over Doris Burke. Nichols said ESPN was “feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity.”
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said. “If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity — which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it — like, go for it. Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”
Nichols criticized ESPN for its track record with diversity, but she obviously felt she was more qualified for the NBA Finals hosting job than Taylor.
The clip, which was leaked by an ESPN employee, circulated behind the scenes with the network. Nichols told the New York Times she was just venting to a fellow employee and has apologized to Taylor, though she says Taylor has not yet accepted.
“My own intentions in that conversation, and the opinion of those in charge at ESPN, are not the sum of what matters here — if Maria felt the conversation was upsetting, then it was, and I was the cause of that for her,” Nichols admitted.
As for Taylor not accepting her apology, Nichols said that is “completely fair and a decision I respect.”
Other ESPN employees were also angered by Nichols’ comments and feel that ESPN has shown favoritism with Nichols. Some of the on-air talent with “NBA Countdown” reportedly considered not appearing on the show in response to the Nichols situation, though ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro was able to smooth things over.
Taylor is in the middle of a contract dispute with ESPN and reportedly turned down an offer of $5 million per year from the network. Jalen Rose showed support for her live on the air last week. You can see that video here.
Maria Taylor has become one of the most well-known faces on ESPN, and the network knows it. However, it sounds like the two sides do not see eye-to-eye in ongoing contract negotiations.
According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, Taylor turned down nearly $5 million a year from ESPN during contract negotiations last year. Taylor was instead seeking “Stephen A. Smith money,” which is roughly in the neighborhood of $8 million per year. Taylor currently makes about $1 million annually in her role as “NBA Countdown” host and lead college football sideline reporter.
ESPN has further reduced the salary offerings since making its initial offer to Taylor. The current offer is said to be between $2 million and $3 million. Taylor has not accepted, and though ESPN wants to keep her, there is a chance the two sides may be forced to part ways. Notably, Taylor’s current contract expires around July 20, which means it is possible that could happen before the conclusion of the NBA Finals she is slated to host.
Taylor ascended to her NBA Countdown post as a replacement for another high-profile name at ESPN. The network likely did not envision these negotiations becoming rocky, but it seems that’s what they are.
Robert Griffin III is, for the moment, still trying to catch on in the NFL for the 2021 season. However, it seems he has another career waiting for him whenever he wants it.
According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, FOX and ESPN are in a bidding war over Griffin in the hopes that he will end his NFL career and become a TV analyst. FOX initially showed heavy interest in Griffin, but ESPN wants him badly enough that it spurred them to increase their offer to him. It’s not clear if Griffin plans to retire in order to take either opportunity, but it’s clear that a TV career awaits him whenever he does decide to step away from the NFL.
The reason for the serious interest is apparently because Griffin’s auditions have been fantastic. Marchand adds that sources from both networks were “blown away” by Griffin, and some of them even said his audition was among the best they had ever seen.
ESPN’s offer to Griffin would involve both studio work and opportunities as a color commentator for college games, as well as the chance to appear on other shows during the week. FOX would likely add Griffin to one of its NFL commentary teams while also putting him on its college football studio shows.
Griffin has voiced interest in serving as a mentor for one specific quarterback in 2021. Ironically, he did so as part of a live broadcast that very much hints at his potential as an analyst. The 31-year-old is still young and solid enough to come in and serve as an NFL backup for someone, but the money and the visibility of a high-profile broadcast career may end up being a better option for him at this point.
Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr via CC-BY-SA 2.0
Paul Pierce is happy to let his old boss know that he is living his best life.
The retired former Boston Celtics star took to Twitter on Wednesday to clown ESPN after he was let go by the network last month. Pierce bragged about how he had made more money in cryptocurrency over the last month than he made with ESPN in a year.
The 43-year-old Pierce had worked as an analyst for ESPN in the last few years, appearing on programs such as “The Jump” and “NBA Countdown.” But he was fired after streaming an inappropriate Instagram Live video.
Pierce posted a funny video response to being let go where he promised big things to come. Perhaps becoming a crypto king was what Pierce was alluding to all along.
One of ESPN’s most familiar and longest-serving faces will be leaving the network.
Kenny Mayne, who has been at ESPN since 1994, announced Monday that he will be departing the network. Mayne referred to himself as a “salary cap casualty,” and did not give any hint as to what he has planned next.
Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported that ESPN had asked Mayne to take a pay cut in order to remain with the network, which he declined to do.
Mayne became familiar to sports fans through his dry sense of humor and his numerous appearances as an anchor on “SportsCenter.” He has hosted numerous other programs for the network, including the popular web series “Kenny Mayne’s Wider World of Sports.”
There have been plenty of big changes at ESPN in the last couple years, with plenty of network stalwarts departing for various reasons. Mayne is just the latest in that department.
ESPN has room for a new NBA analyst after Paul Pierce was fired earlier this week, and Nick Young would like to submit an application.
Young, who has not played in the NBA since 2018, tweeted on Wednesday about the new job opening at ESPN. He seemed like he was being sarcastic, but he would probably be interested if the network took him up on it.
Of course, Pierce was fired by ESPN after his live video stream appeared to show him smoking marijuana and surrounded by strippers. We doubt ESPN would replace him with someone like Young, who also dealt with some controversy recently.
Young was criticized last month for an Instagram comment he made about women’s college basketball. He claimed he was hacked, but most people didn’t buy it. Either way, we doubt ESPN would hire him as a Pierce replacement given the circumstances.
Paul Pierce was fired by ESPN on Monday over a video stream he shared that many considered inappropriate, and Dave Portnoy of Barstool sports is looking to capitalize on the opportunity.
Portnoy immediately began recruiting Pierce when news surfaced that ESPN was parting ways with the former NBA star. The Barstool founder first sent a tweet indicating he wants Pierce to call him.
Then on Tuesday, Portnoy said during his popular “Davey Day Trader” stream that he has reached out to Pierce.
“Listen, Paul Pierce, I’m gonna make a run at Paul Pierce,” Portnoy said. “I’m gonna make a run at his a–. I reached out. Contact has been made. He got fired from ESPN for having strippers and blunts in the background of a livestream. Whatever, I don’t give a f— about that. We’d love to have him.”
There was once a time when people may have laughed at the idea of Pierce taking a job with Barstool Sports, but it is no longer out of the question. Barstool has grown into a massive media and sports gambling company. They have hired some high-profile former athletes, most notably Deion Sanders.
That said, this is not the first time Portnoy has openly fantasized about hiring an NBA legend.
Pierce was fired by ESPN after his live video stream appeared to show him smoking marijuana and surrounded by strippers. He quickly issued a video response (see it here) that made it seem like he is not concerned about the next chapter of his career.
ESPN has parted ways with NBA analyst Paul Pierce after an inappropriate Instagram livestream on Friday night.
On Friday, Pierce streamed what appeared to be he and some friends gathering for a poker game. The group was surrounded by exotic dancers, and Pierce was seen smoking an unidentified substance. The video can be seen here, though be warned that it is graphic and contains foul language.
On Monday, multiple reports indicated that ESPN parted ways with Pierce, effective immediately.
Pierce appeared to respond to the news by posting a video of himself laughing on Twitter Monday, promising “big things”.
Pierce has been an NBA analyst with ESPN since his retirement in 2017, appearing on both “ESPN NBA Countdown” and “The Jump.”
He had become somewhat known for his bombastic and bizarre takes while appearing on the network, such as this one.
Kirk Herbstreit ripped Dan Orlovsky this week after Orlovsky passed along a negative report about Justin Fields’ work ethic, and it sounds like executives at ESPN are not pleased about the situation.
Orlovsky was a guest on Pat McAfee’s show Wednesday and was asked by the host about rumors that Fields’ stock is dropping. Orlovsky told McAfee that he has heard some talk from NFL teams questioning Fields’ work ethic and desire to be great. Orlovsky made it clear that what he was sharing was not his opinion about Fields and said he has no concerns about the former Ohio State star’s ability to perform at the next level.
After receiving some backlash, Orlovsky posted a video on Twitter to elaborate on his comments. He said he had since spoken with more people — including one Ohio State offensive assistant — who praised Fields for his work ethic. Herbstreit, a fellow ESPN employee and Buckeyes alum, was not satisfied with Orlovsky’s explanation. He called Orlovsky’s initial report on Fields “reckless and absurd.”
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, ESPN has spoken with both Herbstreit and Orlovsky. Neither TV personality will be suspended, but the issue has been addressed. It’s unclear if the higher-ups at ESPN took issue with Orlovsky’s initial report about Fields, Herbstreit’s tweet, or both.
Orlovsky repeatedly said that the negative reports he heard about Fields’ work ethic came from NFL teams and indicated he was not buying into them. The information probably came from one or more teams that are interested in Fields and want him to fall down the draft board.
With some of the throws Fields made and the blazing 40-yard dash he ran (video here) at his Pro Day, it’s hard to imagine him slipping too far.
Former NFL punter and popular media personality Pat McAfee shared some surprising news on his show Friday when he told viewers and listeners that ESPN employees are no longer allowed to appear as guests. However, ESPN claims McAfee has been misinformed.
McAfee, who regularly has ESPN guests on his show, said Friday that he had been informed through a third party that ESPN reporters, analysts and other employees will no longer be allowed on “The Pat McAfee Show.” Richard Deitsch reached out to ESPN about the supposed ban, and a network representative said there is no such mandate.
“We didn’t intend to ban ESPN guests from the show and there is certainly no ban going forward,” the network said. “We are in the midst of figuring out the best process for future guests to appear on outside platforms and Pat will continue to make regular appearances on ESPN shows.”
McAfee has been a popular contributor on ESPN shows, and he openly wondered on Friday if he should retaliate by no longer making those appearances. That may have led to a change in ESPN’s stance, or it’s possible that McAfee was simply given bad information.
It’s worth noting that if ESPN did ban its employees from McAfee’s show, it would not be the first time the network has done something like that.