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Thom Brennaman Meeting With LGBTQ Broadcasters, Activists

“Thom Brennaman claims that what was captured by TV microphones was the first time he had ever used the gay slur he did.”

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Thom Brennaman has been out of the play-by-play booth for the Cincinnati Reds for over three weeks now. Back on August 19, he could be heard using a gay slur over the airwaves of FOX Sports Ohio during a double header between the Reds and Kansas City Royals. He was suspended indefinitely. FOX also announced that it would not be using Brennaman to call NFL games this fall.

Brennaman issued an awkward on air apology. He also wrote a detailed apology for The Athletic. Mark Fischer has a story this week in The New York Post detailing the broadcaster’s efforts to meet with gay colleagues and LGBTQ activists in the Cincinnati area.

Evan Millward of WPCO TV in Cincinnati says he had his guard up when Brennaman asked to meet with him. He was concerned about being a pawn in an insincere apology tour that was just about PR.

“It was pretty clear to me early on that he was not using me,” Millward told Fischer.

Millward and Cincinnati LGBTQ activist Ryan Messer are working with Brennaman and having routine conversations to help the broadcaster understand why his words were so hurtful. They have run into an interesting quandary though.

Thom Brennaman claims that what was captured by TV microphones was the first time he had ever used the gay slur he did. Messer is pretty adamant that he doesn’t believe that is true.

“If he used it then, he used it before,” Messer said. He won’t dismiss the opportunity to educate Brennaman, even if it means Brennaman isn’t being totally honest. “If we don’t open the dialogue to help explain (the meaning behind the word), how do we learn and grow from it? And that’s where my whole perspective comes, and I’m willing to make sure he understands that, which is why he is coming to my house Saturday to meet my family, my husband and four kids.”

Brennaman says that the extent of his outreach to the LGBTQ community doesn’t stop at Millward and Messer. He says that he has spoken to groups across the country and that most have been forgiving and happy to see him making an effort to educate himself.

Sports TV News

Eli Manning Gives ESPN2 Audience Double Bird

“This isn’t the first time something happening on Eli’s set has disrupted the Manningcast.”

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Eli Manning didn’t have very many pleasant interactions with fans in Philadelphia. The former New York Giants quarterback was trying to convey his experience at Lincoln Financial Field to his brother Peyton and former Eagle Chris Long during the fourth quarter of this week’s Manningcast.

“You go to Philly, I mean, you’re getting the double bird right away from a nine-year-old kid. I would give the bird; I don’t know, can we do that?” Eli asked before raising both of his middle fingers. “I’m sure you can blur that out, right?”

Anyone that was watching the ESPN2 broadcast of Monday Night Football quickly learned that the assumption Eli Manning made was incorrect. There was his own double bird on live TV for all to see.

He was clearly informed during the commercial break that the gesture was not blurred. When the Manningcast returned, he apologized to the audience.

“Alright, alright, sorry. Earlier I did the double bird; I guess that’s frowned upon,” Eli Manning said over Chris Long’s laughter. So I apologize if I offended anybody. That’s what a nine-year-old did to me, so I thought I could do it back.”

This isn’t the first time something happening on Eli’s set has disrupted the Manningcast. In Week 1 his fire alarm went off in the middle of Peyton’s conversation with Travis Kelce. It seems unlikely that these moments would be planned, but they are certainly becoming the standouts of the broadcast.

Peyton and Eli Manning now get a little break from one another. They will take three weeks off. The Manningcast will return in Week 7 when the New Orleans Saints travel to Seattle. With guests becoming a staple of the Manningcast, it seems reasonable to think that may be the week it becomes an even bigger family affair. Peyton and Eli’s father Archie played for the Saints during his NFL career.

Archie did make an appearance in Week 3 but it was less about talking football and more about getting his son to fix his cellphone.

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Sports TV News

Freddy Rolón Elevated to SVP of Programming, Scheduling At ESPN

“The position leaves Rolón in charge of the schedule and content strategy for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPNEWS”

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Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN announced a promotion within their programming department this week. The network is elevating Freddy Rolón to senior vice president of programming and scheduling. Rolón previously held the vice president of programming and scheduling role.

The position leaves Rolón in charge of the schedule and content strategy for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, along with his role overseeing ESPN Deportes’ linear and digital business.

“The pause in sports caused by the COVID-19 break brought an unprecedented level of unpredictability due to the ever-changing landscape, thousands of cancelled events, altered or postponed seasons, and more,” said Burke Magnus, President, Programming and Original Content, ESPN. “Throughout that time, one factor remained constant – Freddy’s steady hand. While new to his role in programming and scheduling when the pandemic started, he led with excellence, and his strategic thinking guided us during a very tumultuous period.”

Rolón plays an integral part in ESPN’s appeal to Hispanic fans, working closely with production, audio, and digital areas to maximize the draw of English-language broadcasts.

The executive joined ESPN in 2004 and has spent the better part of this last decade building ESPN Deportes into the entity it is today. Rolón held the position of vice president & general manager at ESPN Deportes from 2016 to 2020. From 2011-2016, he served as vice president of ESPN Deportes programming and business initiatives. That title made Rolón responsible for overseeing all ESPN Deportes programming, from acquisitions and development, all the way to scheduling.

Like plenty of high-ranking ESPN voices before him, Rolón started at ESPN as an intern at the company. Shining in the ESPN International program. Rolón then joined the network as senior manager of marketing for ESPN Deportes upon earning his MBA.

That role led to a stint on the radio side of the network as senior director of marketing and integration of ESPN Radio from 2005 to 2007.

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Sports TV News

Michelle Beadle ‘In Talks With Several Suitors’ For Comeback

“Beadle has been out of the limelight for over a year now ever since ESPN bought out her $5 million per year contract in 2019.”

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Courtesy: ESPN

Michelle Beadle has been out of the spotlight for some time now, but Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy believes that’s about to change. McCarthy is reporting that Beadle could be back in the sports media saddle very soon.

“The former host of ESPN’s NBA Countdown is in talks with several suitors about possibly returning to sports media in time for the NBA’s 2021-22 season,” McCarthy wrote in his piece on the development.

Michelle Beadle has been away from the cameras ever since ESPN bought out her $5 million per year contract in 2019. During that time, plenty of ESPN ex-pats from Kenny Mayne to Dan Le Batard have found green pastures on the other side of ESPN life.

She rose in popularity alongside another former-ESPN stalwart in Colin Cowherd. The two hosted SportsNation together on ESPN2 starting in 2009, and the show saw instant success. Beadle eventually left for a short-lived show on NBCSN before returning to ESPN in 2014 to host SportsNation again and eventually take the reins of NBA Countdown three years later.

The host guided the NBA Countdown desk for one season before ESPN launched Get Up, with her, Mike Greenberg, and Jalen Rose as the headliners in 2018. The show never seemed to fit her style. Things came to a head with her and the network when she said she refused to watch the NFL or college football. Now Beadle can have her pick of the litter for a new role.

McCarthy expects Michelle Beadle to avoid a third stint with ESPN and instead explore a more independent follow-up act to ESPN a la Bill Simmons with The Ringer and Jemele Hill with her podcast network. Beadle’s representatives did not respond to McCarthy’s comment request.

Turner does not look like a great option in McCarthy’s eyes either, given that Ernie Johnson is their lead NBA host for the foreseeable future. Time will tell where Beadle eventually lands as the NBA season fast approaches.

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