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ESPN Personalities Comment On Protests, Death of George Floyd

“Kudos to ESPN for recognizing that this is an issue that should speak to all of us. And kudos to the talent that listened, and asked questions and especially to those that opened up and spoke so emotionally about the issue and the moment.”

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The death of George Floyd at the hands of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chavin last Monday and the many protests that have happened across the United States over the weekend had many athletes and ESPN personalities voicing their opinion on the tragic event and what needs to change in this country. 

As I was watching SportsCenter on Saturday night, I came across anchor Michael Eaves talking about the impact this situation had on him. It was leading into a piece done by Jeremy Schaap about the impact athletes are having during these tough times.

Eaves has not been the only personality who has spoken out over the weekend. On Friday’s Get Up, Jalen Rose talked about how we as a society need to come together, not just when it is convenient.

https://twitter.com/JalenRose/status/1266381588994146312

Marcus Spears, who contributes to Get Up and College Football Live among other shows on ESPN and the SEC Network, tweeted on Sunday a statement saying this is the best he could explain the situation and then spoke on Monday’s Get Up about the impact it had on his 11-year-old son: 

https://twitter.com/GetUpESPN/status/1267456484306309121

On ESPN Radio’s Sunday Morning show hosted by Matt Schick and Myron Medcalf, Schick mentioned how he had a discussion with his kids about everything going on in the world and he told them about what happened to Emmett Till. I will leave that clip here along with the interview Schick and Medcalf did with North Carolina Central men’s basketball coach, LeVelle Moton: 

https://twitter.com/ESPNRadio/status/1267170778547716097

Another segment I was able to catch Sunday was when Chris Carlin and Alyssa Lang had Bart Scott, the former Jets linebacker and co-host of Bart and Hahn on ESPN Radio New York, on their show and Lang asked what white people can do to help the situation.

“Just make abundantly clear that silence is compliance,” Scott answered. “If you fail to say nothing, you are saying it is ok and injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Eventually, if you don’t attack injustice, eventually it is going to be on your doorsteps.” 

On Monday’s The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, Le Batard spoke on the subject and you can hear the emotion he was using (credit to @gifdsports for the audio).

“It’s heartbreaking. I’m just an observer. Latin or not, minority or not, I come from privilege. I hope we can just laugh today that there can be some medicine somewhere in this,” Le Batard said. “I’ve been alive for 51 years. I have not had as heartbreaking a weekend for something that didn’t really directly impact me as I did this weekend where my fear kept me in a place. This bone-weariness, this feeling that you have in your heart, in your stomach, it feels like a disease.”

Kudos to ESPN for recognizing that this is an issue that should speak to all of us. And kudos to the talent that listened, and asked questions and especially to those that opened up and spoke so emotionally about the issue and the moment. We as a country need to do better. So, the one thing I would want everyone to take from this article and these people is please, take a minute, and listen. 

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NBA Playoff Ratings Hit 8-Year Highs

“At 3.71 million, the average audience for games this postseason is up 14% from last year. It is up 4% from 2019, the last time the playoffs started on time.”

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More people are watching the NBA Playoffs than have done so in a long time. Through the first two rounds in 2022, the league is enjoying its best postseason ratings in eight years.

The average audience across TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBA TV is 3.71 million people per game. If you take the less widely available NBA TV out of the mix, the NBA is averaging 4.08 million viewers per game.

At 3.71 million, the average audience for games this postseason is up 14% from last year. It is up 4% from 2019, the last time the playoffs started on time.

The Boston Celtics have been one of the most reliable performers this postseason. They have been involved in two of the three most-watched games. Sunday’s Game 7 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks is one of two games this postseason that now rank as the most-watched early round games in a decade. The other was Game 1 between the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies.

Golden State has also been a hot draw. The Warriors have been involved in four of the seven most-watched playoff games.

With both teams still alive and plenty of star power left in the playoffs, the NBA is poised to deliver one of its most-watched postseasons in years.

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Domonique Foxworth: Tom Brady Contract Is About Impressing NFL

“I think that’s why the booths look the way they look. It’s because the league wants their games to feel big, and it’s worth it to them.”

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The shake-up of NFL TV broadcast booths has been one of the top storylines in the league this offseason.

Part of the reasoning is because of the massive sums of money involved. Whether it’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman or Tom Brady, NFL broadcasters have been getting paid. And it doesn’t seem like the spending is going to slow down anytime soon.

Speaking to Bomani Jones on The Right Time, Domonique Foxworth said the NFL just wants to continue to get bigger and bigger even with its broadcast crews.

“These TV partners want to be in good with the league. And I think that’s what this Tom Brady contract comes down to,” Foxworth said. “I think that’s why the booths look the way they look. It’s because the league wants their games to feel big, and it’s worth it to them.”

Even with some feeling like Brady is uninteresting and likely won’t move the needle as an analyst, it’s the name recognition factor that will set the table for Brady in the booth.

“I do believe that if you turn on an NFL game, and Tom Brady’s talking about it, it feels bigger no matter what he’s saying,” Foxworth said.

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Joe Buck, Troy Aikman Visit Bristol For First Time Since Signing With ESPN

“My anticipation for the start of this season is literally off the charts; I’ve never been this excited.”

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Monday Night Football on ESPN is going to have a new sound this year with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in the broadcast booth. The deal is reportedly worth a combined $165 million, and will officially begin on September 12 when the Denver Broncos visit the Seattle Seahawks at 8:15 p.m. EST on ESPN.

“I’m thrilled to officially welcome Joe and Troy to ESPN and Monday Night Football,” said ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro. “They are elite broadcasters who have been at the forefront of our industry for more than two decades [and] are universally respected, and fans truly appreciate their candor and expertise.”

Buck and Aikman visited ESPN headquarters in Bristol for the first time today. The broadcast duo, now entering their 21st season in the booth together, are switching networks for the first time, a move that was initiated because of Aikman’s expiring contract. Throughout the season, Aikman had an inclination that it would be his last at Fox; however, he would have stayed at the network. The original thought, according to Aikman, was that he would call Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime while continuing his role in doubleheader games with Fox – but it was quickly realized that it would not be feasible.

“ESPN began conversations with me, and it was an opportunity that was just the best fit for me,” said Aikman. “I didn’t think that was going to happen until a little bit after the Super Bowl.”

Buck’s contract was not set to expire until the end of this season, but after watching his veteran partner change networks, the possibility existed that he too would depart.

“When I knew Troy was gone, I think there was a little bit more intensity in my talks with Fox about ‘Was I going to stay there?,’ or ‘Was I going to try to continue my relationship on-air with Troy?’,” Buck reflected.

After approximately a month of negotiations between Buck and Fox, the broadcaster was off to ESPN. While the negotiations moved quickly, Buck never felt like he was taken for granted by Fox after working there for 28 years.

“They tell you how much you’re worth to them every time a check arrives,” said Buck. “They prove all that stuff by letting you continue to do it, and the relationships that we had. It was very collegial and very friendship-driven, much more so than employer-employee at Fox, and I expect the same will continue here at ESPN.”

Much of the media landscape across the National Football League has been significantly altered going into next season. Whether it is Buck and Aikman going from Fox to ESPN; the new Fox booth of Kevin Burkhardt and, upon his retirement, Tom Brady; the addition of Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime with Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit; and Mike Tirico being moved into the lead Sunday Night Football role with Cris Collinsworth, the game will adopt a new sound upon the season’s opening kickoff.

ESPN Head of Event and Studio Production Stephanie Druley commented that amid the new broadcast landscape, the network believes it now has the number one football broadcast booth in the country. Additionally, she revealed the addition of a second Monday Night Football booth to be announced in the coming weeks as part of the network’s new broadcast rights deal with the NFL. The secondary booth will be calling three games this year and five games next year, and an announcement with more details is forthcoming.

For Buck, being welcomed to ESPN was representative of a full-circle moment, as his father Jack called Monday Night Football on the CBS Radio Network with Hank Stram. While Buck idolized his father and strived to one day be like him, he was always attentive as to what was going on in one of the other booths in the stadium.

“I knew as a little kid something special was going on two doors down, and that was when Howard Cosell was there; Don Meredith was there; Frank Gifford was there – and it was, ‘Man, that is the peak of sports and media,’” said Buck. “My anticipation for the start of this season is literally off the charts; I’ve never been this excited.”

“This is an opportunity with ESPN that I’m really excited about,” added Aikman. “We’ve been doing it so long in one way [and] it feels like it’s 2001 again…. I have nothing but respect for the people I worked [for] at Fox, and appreciate the way I was treated for the 21 years I was there, but am excited for the next chapter.”

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