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The Turmoil Continues For Grantland

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The defections at Grantland continued today, as popular staff writer Rembert Browne bolted for New York, adding his name to the growing list of staffers who have left the site since the network cut ties with founder Bill Simmons.

With a staff exodus underway, a clearer picture of the site’s last year of operations has emerged. Though Simmons has only technically been out at Grantland for five months, many began to see the writing on the wall last fall, when Simmons was suspended for calling N.F.L. commissioner Roger Goodell a liar on his podcast.

Insiders at Grantland point out that in the aftermath of Simmons’s suspension, executive vice president Marie Donoghue told the staff that they “shouldn’t worry, because whether or not Bill stays at ESPN, the company is committed to Grantland.”

ESPN management says that Donoghue, who oversaw the site, made that statement because staffers were specifically asking whether they should fear for their jobs, “given Bill’s behavior.” She was trying to calm them down, ESPN brass points out, she wasn’t trying to suggest she and the network didn’t want Bill to stay.

Several key Grantland members, however, took it another way. Says one, “That was the tipping-point moment. What do you mean if Bill’s here or not? Bill is Grantland! What are you talking about? Bristol never recovered with the staff after that.”

Digging deeper into the steaming remains of the ESPN-Simmons divorce, it becomes clear that while the breakup may have been bloody, costly, and emotionally exhausting, it was also certainly worthwhile for both sides.

Over 48 tempestuous hours, in more than 15 conversations with current and former ESPN employees, current and former Grantland staffers, and current ESPN senior management, additional information has surfaced suggesting there were numerous areas of major conflict, and several more defined by personal animosity, fundamental misconceptions, and even accusations of sexism.

As ports of entry into this Byzantine world, we can look to three major stress points.

First: Simmons’s relationship with the rest of ESPN outside Grantland. There was no love lost between the two. During his last year at ESPN, many at the network believe, Simmons still respected and had warm feelings toward executives John Skipper, John Walsh, and several others at the company. It was equally evident to many that he resented the way he was treated by other executives and was largely dismissive of the way they conducted business.

A major fork in the road arose when Magic Johnson left NBA Countdown in 2013 and, Simmons’s associates believe, Bristol was spreading the story that Simmons was to blame, even as Simmons swore to co-workers that he had not put that in motion. Being blamed for Johnson’s departure enraged him, in fact. Try living in L.A. and being regarded as the guy who dumped Magic Johnson.

For ESPN’s part, the animosity was mutual. “Nobody at ESPN wanted to work with Simmons,” says a high-ranking executive. “He was loathed throughout the company. He kept up a long-running diatribe on how terrible it was to work here.”

There were also complaints that Simmons would not allow Grantland writers to contribute to ESPN.com or to the magazine—or, for a long time, to appear on any of ESPN’s TV shows. Some of that was true: The Grantland staff was intent on building the Grantland brand.

And, at least one executive complains—somewhat ironically, given his feelings toward Simmons—that Simmons seldom came to Bristol, but Simmons would tell the Grantland staff and others that it was hard for him to get to Bristol from the site’s Los Angeles headquarters, that he didn’t have the time, and that he didn’t think it necessary. He did, however, go at least once three years in a row, and traveled at least four times a year to New York, where he would meet with the network’s executives.

Nevertheless, bitterness was palpable and plentiful.

Says Donoghue: “I think Bill sometimes tries to associate whatever frustration he had at ESPN onto something with me personally, and I don’t want to play into that narrative. I was one of his biggest champions at ESPN and defended Bill many, many, times.”A senior ESPN executive adds this: “I bet you a dollar to a dime that many of your sources are men who do not like Marie Donoghue, because women are still subject, in the workplace, to a lot of prejudice and lack of acceptance. A lot of people don’t want to work for a woman, even if they say they do.”

To continue reading this article visit Vanity Fair where it was originally published

 

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Warriors Fans Throw Objects At Charles Barkley On Inside the NBA Set

“Barkley yelled back at the crowd but never actually left the set.”

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TNT/Larry Brown Sports

Charles Barkley is no stranger to being the object of fans’ ire. The cities of San Antonio and Cleveland have a history of being the butt of the Round Mound of Rebound’s jokes. Thursday night in San Francisco, fans of the Warriors took things to a different level, throwing objects at Barkley on the Inside the NBA set.

The TNT studio show was broadcasting live from outside the Chase Center. The crowd chanted “Chuck, you suck!” at Barkley before the game. After Golden State clinched a birth in the NBA Finals, things got physical.

Fans threw things at the set, including a rolled-up t-shirt, which hit Charles Barkley in the back of the head. That resulted in Barkley leaving his seat and bowing up to the audience.

“Come on Chuck!” Ernie Johnson pleaded as Kenny Smith repeatedly said “Sit down Chuck.”

Barkley yelled back at the crowd but never actually left the set.

Now that the Western Conference Finals are over, TNT’s NBA schedule has concluded. That doesn’t mean Charles Barkley won’t return to San Francisco for the NBA Finals, but it is highly unlikely given the reception he has received there.

Barkley spent most of the postseason telling Golden State fans they were annoying and need to shut up and saying the city of San Francisco has “dirty ass streets”.

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Jon Miller To Call MLB Sunday Leadoff Game On Peacock

“According to a press release, Jason Benetti has a scheduling conflict.”

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Rich Eisen Show

Legendary play-by-play man Jon Miller will be returning to the national broadcast booth on Sunday. He will call the San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds game for Peacock. He’ll be joined in the booth by Barry Larkin and Shawn Estes.

According to a press release, Jason Benetti has a scheduling conflict. Benetti, the regular play-by-play voice of Peacock’s MLB Sunday Leadoff, is also the television voice of the Chicago White Sox. NBC Sports Chicago has prioritized this weekend’s series between the White Sox and Cubs, making Benetti unavailable to the national broadcast.

Miller has been calling Giants games since 1997 and previously shared the Sunday Night Baseball booth on ESPN with hall of famer Joe Morgan.

The broadcast, called MLB Sunday Leadoff, will begin at 11 a.m. with pregame coverage hosted by Ahmed Fareed. The game broadcast begins at 11:30 a.m.

The game will take place in an exclusive two-hour broadcast window prior to the start of the rest of the league’s day of games.

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Amazon Eyeing Pat McAfee For Thursday Night Football Megacast

“No deal is done yet. A source tells McCarthy that it hinges on McAfee’s very busy schedule, but a Megacast is appealing to the former punter.’

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First it was the Mannings. Now it’s McAfee. Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports that Pat McAfee could be at the center of an alternate broadcast of Thursday Night Football on Amazon in the 2022 season.

No deal is done yet. A source tells McCarthy that it hinges on McAfee’s very busy schedule, but a Megacast is appealing to the former punter.

Rumors of Amazon’s interest in McAfee began to bubble up last month. While he never directly addressed them, he did make mention on his show that he was “up to something” and insinuated that Amazon wasn’t the only company he was talking to.

McAfee has said on his show in the past that he wants to be part of an NFL broadcast. However, he is firm in that it would not be in the broadcast booth.

“I can’t call games. Not yet,” McAfee said on a show in February. “Have to be done with this show to call games. Because that’s like a 3-day, 4-day thing.” 

In addition to his daily show, McAfee is also committed to the WWE. He is on the road for Smackdown every Friday.

There is no word on exactly what a Pat McAfee-centered broadcast would look like. When reports first came out regarding discussions with McAfee, Ryan Glasspiegel of The New York Post reported that moving The Pat McAfee Show to Amazon was on the table. If that happens, it would make sense to use his entire crew on the Thursday Night Football presentation.

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