ESPN+ is now the home of a new and unique combat sports league to pair with UFC and boxing. The Professional Fighters League (PFL) will be featured on ESPN+ and ESPN2 for the upcoming season beginning in May.
PFL is a unique MMA organization that operates with a regular season, playoff and championship format similar to traditional sports like the NFL and NBA.
“ESPN is the home of combat sports, and we look forward to delivering thrilling live PFL events and powerful storytelling to fans, across all platforms,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming and Scheduling.
The PFL season begins in May and runs through August. From there the playoffs start with a culmination in a New Years Eve event in which PFL World Champions will be crowned in six weight classes, including a 155-pound women’s class. ESPN+ and ESPN2 will air all 10 events live.
“We are thrilled to bring the PFL to ESPN, the undisputed leader in sports. ESPN is a ground-breaking pioneer that has fundamentally changed the way we consume sports, and we at the PFL are reimagining MMA for fans and fighters,” said Peter Murray, CEO of the PFL. “We are also the first in MMA to introduce a 155-pound women’s division and we are the first to provide equal payout to our crowned champions across all divisions.”
“Fans can now follow the stories, and business partners can engage in the journeys, of the PFL fighters throughout the season,” said Donn Davis, Co-Founder and Chairman of the PFL. “This agreement to bring PFL to ESPN and ESPN+ further validates our unique and innovative product and will accelerate the PFL’s growth.”
Bomani Jones: ‘Tim Anderson Asked Me To Interview Him’
“I got to comport myself in such a way that dudes I cover respect me, if I want them to talk to me. I have to go the extra mile in terms of earning respect if I want to have these cats listen to me.”
Josh Donaldson and Tim Anderson were all over the news last week after the two exchanged words during the Yankees-White Sox series. Over the course of two days, an altercation between the two started a bench-clearing brawl, and then a second altercation occurred when Donaldson called Tim Anderson “Jackie,” a reference to Jackie Robinson.
Bomani Jones was one of the few people in the media to land an on-camera interview with Anderson for his podcast, The Right Time, where they got a chance to discuss what really took place during that moment.
Donaldson’s “Jackie” comment was a reference to a Sports Illustrated article from 2019 in which Anderson referred to himself as being similar to the Dodgers Hall of Famer. Anderson said publicly that it may have been a joke to Donaldson, but it did not feel that way to him.
On Friday’s edition of his show, former NFL player and current ESPN NFL analyst Domonique Foxworth asked Jones how he landed an interview with Anderson. Jones said Anderson was the one pursuing him.
“He sent me a DM and was like yo, I want to talk,” Jones said to Foxworth. “I not gonna lie to y’all, he was hoping to not have to do media availability so we were sitting on it because we wanted it to be the big surprise, we wanted to drop the big joker when all the spades have been played.”
The trust level between an athlete and a reporter is arguably the most important thing for any journalist. Jones said he has had to build that trust in a different way from many in his position.
“I didn’t come up reporting, I wasn’t on the ground. And so I am in a lot of ways the dude sitting in his house popping off at people. I get every criticism that comes with that, so as a result, I got to comport myself in such a way that dudes I cover respect me, if I want them to talk to me. I have to go the extra mile in terms of earning respect if I want to have these cats listen to me. So for me it feels good when something like that happens because it means my goal, at least with that one person has been achieved.”
John Skipper: ‘Tom Brady is a Very Expensive Trophy for FOX’
“I think for Tom Brady’s pride, he had to be paid the most money because he is the greatest of all-time.”
The NFL broadcasting world went through a series of massive changes this offseason. Outside of the No. 1 crew at CBS (Jim Nantz and Tony Romo), every other network will have new faces appear on our television screens during game days.
Out of the large amounts of money being thrown around at various networks in the industry, it was Tom Brady’s massive 10-year, $375-million broadcasting deal with FOX that turned a lot of heads. Not only does the deal indicate that the seven-time Super Bowl champ will be retiring in the very near future, but some, including Dan Le Batard, wondered why such a fortune was being given to someone who has “never said anything interesting'” during his career in the NFL.
During the “local hour” of his popular show on Thursday, Le Batard welcomed former ESPN president and his Meadowlark Media partner, John Skipper. He expressed a similar.
“There’s very little economic value. He’s a very, very expensive trophy,” Skipper said on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. “I think he’ll probably be okay on the game. It doesn’t really matter that much other than for pride and I guess he’ll shake advertisers’ hands.”
To put into context how massive Brady’s deal is, the future Hall of Famer will not only be making more in 10-years than he has throughout his entire 20+ year NFL career ($302.96 million in total earnings) but he will also be leapfrogging broadcast vet Troy Aikman–getting paid twice the amount of the former Cowboys QBs’ new deal with ESPN.
“I think for Tom Brady’s pride, he had to be paid the most money because he is the greatest of all-time,” Skipper said.
Skipper continues to add that the money FOX gave Brady could’ve been put to better use, making a more significant impact in other areas of the business, including securing live event rights.
He then brought up Mike Tirico, who called Monday Night Football at ESPN during Skipper’s tenure at the network. No matter how much faith he had in the play-by-play man, Skipper said he didn’t feel the need to overspend on a partner to help him shine.
“I put Mike Tirico in the booth and thought he did an outstanding job, but I would not have paid any ex-player $15, $20, or $25 million to sit next to him.”
North Carolina Lawmakers Expect Mobile Sports Betting By Football Season
“North Carolina’s neighbors, including Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, have already legalized mobile sports betting.”
It is already legal to place bets in North Carolina on sporting events. It is just incredibly difficult. Bets can only be made inside of 2 Cherokee casinos in the western part of the state. That could change before football season.
The State Senate, which is politically divided, passed SB 688 last year. If it makes it through the State House, it would become law and North Carolinians could then theoretically place bets online legally.
SB 88 was sponsored by Paul Lowe, a Democrat from Forsyth County. He told WRAL-TV in Raleigh that he is optimistic about what will happen in the House.
“We just want to make sure we have drummed up the votes, and I think we have,” he said. “I feel confident about it.”
North Carolina’s neighbors, including Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, have already legalized mobile sports betting.
Politically, North Carolina is considered a purple state. That is showing up in the effort to legalize mobile wagering. One of the bill’s biggest advocates in the House is Jason Saine, a Republican from Lincoln County.
“We’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll. I’ve not heard any new opposition,” he told WRAL. “I think we have a pretty smooth glide path once we do kind of start rolling into session.”
The state’s Lottery Commission would oversee sports gambling. If the SB 688 is passed, operators would pay $500,000 for a five-year license, which can be renewed for $100,000. They would also pay an 8% tax on adjusted gross revenue. Both of those numbers are low compared to other states.
“Once we pass this bill, there’s some tweaks we’re going to do,” Lowe said. “But right now we’re just trying to get it out of the chute.”