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Will Cain Blasts NASCAR, Media In Final First Take Appearance

“As the conversation ended, First Take made it a point to wish Cain well as he heads to FOX News after the end of this month.”

Ricky Keeler

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For the past five years, Will Cain has made regular appearances on ESPN’s First Take. His debates with Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman have brought entertainment and laughs on non-serious issues as well as important conversations from two different viewpoints on the intersections of various sports and social issues. 

Cain was back on First Take Wednesday morning in response to his tweet Tuesday about the FBI’s finding that there was no hate crime that took place at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday. It was reported that a noose was found in Bubba Wallace’s garage. An investigation later determined that it was a knotted rope used as a garage door pull. This was the statement given by NASCAR: 

About 30 minutes after the NASCAR statement, Cain sent this chain of tweets on the situation: 

That chain of tweets received plenty of reaction from Cain’s colleagues and soon to be former colleagues at ESPN, including Jason Fitz and Mike Golic Jr. Fitz brought up the role of the media is to report as the story changes and Golic Jr. addressed the point of where the line of fairness should be: 

Here is some of what Cain said in his opening statement Wednesday after Molly Qerim Rose asked him if this will bring further backlash to Bubba Wallace and NASCAR: 

“Unfortunately, I do,” said Cain. “I think that’s a real cost to this. We in the media and I think NASCAR really were ignorant as to the cost of when you do not pursue the truth. In the media at large, We are not prioritizing our simple job to absolutely seek and hopefully successfully find the truth. NASCAR immediately rushed to judgement and the beautiful moments that came out of unity with the NASCAR drivers are true, but unfortunately they were built upon a falsehood.

“I believe we undercut improvement in racial relations. We are going to take a step back because we have sowed distrust, sowed division, and it will come back as a backlash on NASCAR and unfortunately on Bubba Wallace as well.”

Smith added his thoughts to the conversation and how the incident still helped NASCAR as it tries to push racism out of the sport.

“When you look at what transpired under the stewardship of Steve Phelps overseeing NASCAR, we’ve seen guys like Marty Smith and others who are covering the sport, this is the direction they want to go in. This is a new day…Whatever culture that has existed surrounding this sport that condones that, we are no longer accepting it.”

Kellerman brought up an old saying that caused Smith to make a face on camera that involved two different types of animals:  

“The old saying is if you hear hoofbeats in North America, don’t rule out zebras, but think horses first. It turns out this time it was zebras. The fact that many people assumed horses based on the history of this country and that region and that sport is reasonable. It is a happy day that it turned out not to be true.

Cain added to that old saying by this:  

“The fact that it turned out to be zebras is going to make it hard to convince people it was horses next time.” 

As the conversation ended, First Take made it a point to wish Cain well as he heads to FOX News after the end of this month.

When these three men got together to talk about any given topic, it’s clear they embraced the motto of the show, which is to embrace debate, and tried to see both sides despite the conflicting viewpoints at times. 

Sports TV News

Peter King: Sean McVay Wants to be a Star, ‘Not Just Some Guy on TV’

“I do think he had some regret over not taking a two- or three-year hiatus last year and taking one of the big TV jobs. Amazon? Maybe FOX? But if he really wanted to jump after winning the Super Bowl, he would have.”

Jordan Bondurant

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L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay will remain at his post for the 2023-24 season. The team tweeted that news Friday afternoon, seeming to, at least for now, put the rumors of McVay leaving coaching for a TV job to rest.

ProFootballTalk’s Peter King wrote in Football Morning in America on Monday that McVay understands the kind of position on television he’s looking for may not necessarily be there for him.

“I don’t think that was the only thing about TV that appealed to him, but I don’t think McVay was interested in being Just a Guy on TV,” King wrote. “I do think he had some regret over not taking a two- or three-year hiatus last year and taking one of the big TV jobs. Amazon? Maybe FOX? But if he really wanted to jump after winning the Super Bowl, he would have.”

King noted that McVay has been told to “Do what makes you happy” by folks with the Rams. He also said he believes coaching is what Makes McVay happy. Especially with a chance to shake up his coaching staff and being involved in trying to bring the team back from a 5-12 season in their follow-up campaign to winning the Super Bowl.

“He wants to be challenged, and this staff wasn’t doing it,” King said. “Offensive coordinator Liam Coen may not have been what McVay wanted in an OC—a coach who would challenge him and bring new ideas to him—and that could be why he’s going back to the University of Kentucky as a coordinator.”

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Lisa Salters Makes Monday Night Football History Completing 11th Season on Sideline

“Salters has been with ESPN for almost 23 years. She started as a general assignment reporter before moving to sideline reporting in 2006.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Monday night’s Cowboys/Bucs wild card playoff game set a new milestone for ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters.

The network tweeted that Salters completed her 11th season in that role. That makes her the longest tenured reporter in Monday Night Football history.

Salters has been with ESPN for almost 23 years. She started as a general assignment reporter before moving to sideline reporting in 2006.

“When I first got the call to do Monday Night Football, I would have never thought that 10 years later I would still be doing it,” Salters said last year in a video reminiscing on ten years on Monday Night Football. “I was at home and I got a phone call from my boss Vince Doria and he said, ‘Hey, I was wondering if you would be interested in being a sideline reporter for Monday Night Football‘, and I couldn’t believe what he just asked me.”

Salters is also featured on network coverage of the NBA, something she’s been doing since 2005.

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Sports TV News

No Conspiracy Behind ESPN Monday Night Playoff Game Selection

“The decision to continue with 4/5 games in the Monday night window came down to convenience.”

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN has only carried NFL playoff games on Monday night for two seasons but has been a part of wild card weekends dating back to the 2014-15 campaign.

With the exception of one season, a 4-seed versus 5-seed matchup has always been covered by the Monday Night Football broadcast team in that stretch of nine seasons. That continued with Cowboys/Bucs this year.

In 2021-22, with the NFL expanding the playoff field to seven teams, the first Monday night playoff game was played. The Rams cruised past the Cardinals 34-11.

Last week, the decision was the source of much speculation. TV executives shared a number of theories about why ESPN landed the game that had the most star power in the Super Wild Card round of the playoffs.

Andrew Marchand of the New York Post wrote that no speculation was necessary. The decision to continue with 4/5 games in the Monday night window came down to convenience. The new format, the games that have a likelihood of altering seeding for the divisional rounds have already been played.

The 4/5 games this weekend proved to be pretty entertaining. The Jaguars rallied from down 27 to beat the Chargers. Al Michaels and Tony Dungy were ripped on social media for how they called a particularly exhilarating game for NBC. So it turns out Joe Buck and Troy Aikman would’ve called either one of the weekend’s best games.

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