Amidst the roiling controversy at ESPN, the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reports the network is taking Rachel Nichols off her NBA Finals sideline reporting role and replacing her with Malika Andrews. ESPN released a statement on the lineup change.
“We believe this is the best decision for all concerned in order to keep the focus on the NBA Finals. Rachel will continue to host The Jump.”
A New York Times Piece released Sunday detailed conversations between Nichols and adviser to Lebron James, Adam Mendelsohn, where Nichols accused ESPN of making Maria Taylor the NBA Countdown host because of diversity pressure last year.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world—she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said in the audio clip obtained by The New York Times. “If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity—which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it—like, go for it. Just find it somewhere else.”
“You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away,” Nichols added.
The host of The Jump addressed the elephant in the room on Monday with an apology that social media widely criticized for not addressing any of the things said in the leaked audio.
“So the first thing they teach you in journalism school is don’t be the story,” Nichols said to open The Jump. “I don’t plan to break that rule today or distract from a fantastic Finals. But I also don’t want to let this moment pass without saying how much I respect, how much I value our colleagues here at ESPN. How deeply, deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I hurt, particularly Maria Taylor, and how grateful I am to be part of this outstanding team.”
Game One of the 2021 NBA Finals begins at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
Randy Moss Throws Lombardi Trophy In East River On NFL Countdown
“It is worth wondering what the World Wide Leader’s plan was if the Lombardy Trophy did indeed sink to the bottom of the East River as a result of the stunt.”
It turns out the Lombardi Trophy was never in much trouble during the boat parade to celebrate the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Super Bowl championship. A lot was made of a clearly intoxicated Tom Brady’s devil-may-care attitude in throwing the trophy between boats. The daughter of the man that designed the trophy even demanded an apology from Brady.
Well, no apology necessary it seems. Randy Moss proved on Sunday that even if the trophy had hit the water, it wasn’t going to the bottom.
During a segment of ESPN’s NFL Countdown, the crew wanted to know what would have happened if the trophy had hit the water. Tedy Bruschi, Matt Hasselback, Sam Ponder and Rex Ryan joined Moss outside of ESPN’s New York City studios. As the crew overlooked the East River, both Ryan and Bruschi predicted that the Lombardi would sink.
Bruschi said that he had held several Lombardi Trophies in his career and he knows that it is very top heavy. “This is gonna sink, just like this, straight to the bottom,” he said flipping the trophy upside down.
Moss had the honors of hurling the trophy into the East River where the entire Countdown crew shouted in amazement as it flipped to its side and floated. Moss was jokingly appointed the man to go in and retrieve the trophy.
It was a funny and undeniably memorable bit though. It is worth wondering what the World Wide Leader’s plan was if the Lombardy Trophy did indeed sink to the bottom of the East River as a result of the stunt.
Saints Still Giving Drew Brees Game Plans
“That is a nice leg up on his broadcasting competition for being able to break down what he saw on Sunday nights when he is on NBC.”
Officially, Drew Brees is no longer part of the NFL franchise in New Orleans. That doesn’t mean the NBC analyst is not still well-connected inside the Saints locker room. That was evident on Friday during his appearance on The Dan Patrick Show.
Patrick asked Brees how often he still speaks with Jameis Winston, who served as his backup last year and is his successor as the team’s starting quarterback this season. Brees responded that the two exchanged texts after the game against the Packers. That prompted Patrick to push a little more.
Eventually, Drew Brees revealed that he stays in regular contact with both Winston and the Saints’ backup and gadget play quarterback, Taysom Hill.
“Are you an unofficial assistant coach?” Dan Patrick asked.
“I will say this,” Brees said laughing. “I did have the game plan for the (Packers) game in my hand prior to the start of the game.”
Drew Brees admitted that the game plan came directly from the New Orleans Saints. That is a nice leg up on his broadcasting competition for being able to break down what he saw on Sunday nights when he is on NBC.
While it may be strange or even surprising for some to hear that Brees still is unofficially in the loop in New Orleans, there is nothing wrong with it. In week 1 at least, Brees’s new job had him nowhere near the Saints. That likely made it very easy for Saints coach Sean Payton to view him as Drew Brees, the former player, and not Drew Brees, NBC broadcaster.
Now, will the practice continue? Currently, it is unknown whether or not Brees had the Saints’ plans for Sunday’s visit to Carolina.
Jim Hughson Will Not Return To Hockey Night In Canada
“Hughson has been a part of Hockey Night in Canada since 2005.”
A voice very familiar to Canadian sports fans will not be part of the upcoming NHL season. According to the @yyzsportsmedia Twitter account, Jim Hughson will not be a part of Sportsnet’s Hockey Night in Canada in 2021.
Hughson has been a part of Hockey Night in Canada since 2005. He followed the television package from the CBC to Sportsnet in 2014. He was the secondary play-by-play voice, mostly calling games on the West Coast.
There was less Jim Hughson on Canadian television last season than in the past. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Hughson did not travel. His TV work was limited to calling home games for the Vancouver Canucks.
What exactly happened is still a mystery. The @yyzsportsmedia account did not have details regarding Hughson’s exit.
At 64-years-old, it isn’t crazy to wonder if there is another chapter left in the story of Jim Hughson’s broadcasting career. He will certainly be missed. In addition to calling hockey games, he had stints as the TV play-by-play voice of both the Toronto Blue Jays and the Montreal Expos. Jim Hughson also served as the voice of EA Sports’ NHL video game series until 2009.
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