Shannon Sharpe’s phone interview with Julio Jones on “Undisputed” sparked an internet frenzy over where the Atlanta Falcons All-Pro wide receiver might be heading next. For Fox Sports, the repercussions seem to be much worse.
According to Michael McCarthy and A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports, the interview put a strain on the relationship between Fox Sports and the NFL, and the Falcons were blindsided by it.
Sources told FOS that the interview undercut Atlanta’s negotiating position as they explore moving Jones who has been linked to possible trade rumors since 2020.
“The Falcons are not going to be happy with this — and they will express their angst to the NFL,” Andrew Brandt, the former Green Bay Packers vice president told FOS. “Payback’s too strong a word. But they will hope for some kind of stroke down the road.”
In terms of repercussions for Fox Sports, FOS notes that “Fox could end up in the doghouse among the league’s TV partners, which include NBC, CBS, and ESPN. That could mean less access and cooperation from the team and other NFL clubs. Or, the worst case scenario for an NFL TV partner, the bad blood could lead to poor game matchups.”
It has yet to be determined if Jones knew he was live on “Undisputed” when talking on the phone with Sharpe, but if he didn’t, that could be cause for legal trouble for the show’s co-host. California is a two-party consent state when it comes to recording a phone conversation, which means both Jones and Sharpe must have had knowledge that the conversation was being recorded prior to it taking place.
Stephen A Smith: ‘I Haven’t Been This Excited To Do First Take in Years’
“Anytime Smith and Irvin match up it creates headline haymakers and that contributed to the feel of First Take on day one.”
The new era of First Take just hit the two-week milestone, and the path to changing the show up was a big group effort. ESPN FrontRow detailed the changes and those behind them, including a prizefight feel on the Sept. 6 debut.
Michael Irvin is now debating Stephen A. Smith on Mondays, while Tim Tebow saddles up to the debate desk on Fridays with a rotating cast in between.
“I haven’t been this excited to do First Take in years,” Smith said in the story. “The future is limitless.”
Anytime Smith and Irvin match up it creates headline haymakers and that contributed to the feel of First Take on day one.
“My first Monday on First Take,” Irvin described. “The set was covered with white boxing ring ropes on all the walls throughout the studio. I thought it was beautifully designed and set the stage for what was about to transpire every Monday. ‘Put your dukes up!!!’”
The first shot of the new era featured just Qerim Rose on the debate desk — then the prizefighting debaters walked out to the arena.
“Senior coordinating producer Antoine Lewis wanted to swing big and come out with something memorable,” producer Michael Goldfarb said about the process. “I pitched him on the boxing intro open. Meg Drobniak directed the shoot from Bristol. Stephen A., Michael, and Molly all came in on their off day to film. Associate producer Kat Seelig then worked with remote editor Lauren Bernstein on Sunday night to turn it around in edit for Monday morning. It was an awesome team effort to create something memorable to kick off an important new era for the show.”
The talent and production crew went above and beyond to create the memorable open. A new beginning for a show that’s leaned on Smith for years and isn’t shying away from that strategy anytime soon.
“I’m incredibly excited about First Take’s future. Considering the exceptional lineup of experts who already contribute to our show, combined with an enthusiasm that emanates from the close relationships we all have with one another, you can expect lots of laughter and entertainment, along with astute analysis.”
PFTCommenter Makes It On Manningcast Again
“This week, PFT tweeted what seemed like a compliment to Eli Manning.”
Either PFTCommenter’s tweets really do get under Peyton Manning’s skin and someone in the ESPN control room knows it, or someone in the ESPN control room is a big fan of Pardon My Take.
For the second week in a row, ESPN2 put a tweet from Barstool’s PFTCommenter on the screen during the Manningcast of Monday Night Football. And, for the second week in a row, the older Manning brother complained about his spelling.
It started last week when the podcaster tweeted Peyton Manning needed a prescription helmet, because the one he was using on set clearly did not fit.
Peyton countered by pointing out that PFT does not know how to spell the word prescription.
This week, PFT tweeted what seemed like a compliment to Eli Manning.
“Oh this guy’s back,” Peyton said when the Tweet appeared on screen.
Eli joked that it was his burner account, but his older brother, likely still sore from the way PFTCommenter fired back at him on last week’s Pardon My Take, pointed out another spelling error.
“He spelled wonderful wrong again. He couldn’t spell prescription last week.”
Will PFTCommenter respond on this week’s Pardon My Take? If so, how? We will find that out on Monday.
In the moment, PFTCommenter seemed happy to have the recognition. He noted that he has now made more appearances on the Manningcast than he and Big Cat ever did on Barstool Van Talk, which ESPN2 cancelled after one week.
Mike Greenberg A Candidate To Host NBA Finals
“If the network chooses Greenberg, it may solidify him as the face of ESPN.”
ESPN is in need of a new host for its coverage of the NBA Finals. Last week, Outkick reported that Michael Eaves and Elle Duncan have emerged as candidates to be the new host of NBA Countdown. It sounds like that may not mean they would automatically host the league’s biggest games.
Andrew Marchand reports in his SportsClicker Newsletter that Mike Greenberg has emerged as a candidate to lead studio coverage of the NBA Finals. Duncan is a potential host as well. So is Cassidy Hubbarth.
If the network chooses Greenberg, it may solidify him as the face of ESPN. Sure, Stephen A. Smith makes more money and is at the center of a bigger show, but making Mike Greenberg the host of the NBA Finals in addition to the NFL Draft would make it clear that he is the one the network wants at the center of its most-watched events.
Jay Rigdon of Awful Announcing doesn’t believe that Greenberg will end up with the job. The optics aren’t great after the way Maria Taylor and Rachel Nichols left their roles at ESPN.
“After the PR disaster this past summer, with one Taylor leaving the network after it was revealed Nichols had accused ESPN of giving Taylor hosting duties because Taylor is Black and Nichols is not, handing that gig to a white dude would set ESPN up for a massive (and, to be honest, fairly justified) backlash,” he writes.
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