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First Take Opens With Apology From Stephen A. Smith

Smith made the controversial comments on Monday’s episode of “First Take.”

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: Mikey Reeves / ESPN Images

It didn’t take long for Stephen A. Smith to apologize for his Monday comments on Shohei Ohtani’s viability as the face of baseball in America. 

“Let me be the first to stand up and say that I want to express my sincere apologies to the Asian community and the Asian-American community,” Smith said on First Take. “I am a Black man. I religiously go off about minorities being marginalized in this nation. I instantly go off, repeatedly bring up the fact that if you are a member of a community that feels disenfranchised in any way, that’s something we need to battle, we need to fend off to the best of our ability as a nation.”

Smith questioned Ohtani’s ability to act as the face of baseball because he is still learning how to speak English (fluently). 

“I don’t think it helps that the number one face, is a dude that needs an interpreter so you can understand what the hell he’s saying, in THIS COUNTRY,” Smith said Monday morning on First Take.

Smith stumbled on his attempts to apologize throughout the afternoon on Monday. Yet, he was sincere on Tuesday and, more importantly, listened to the perspectives of different guests throughout the first hour. 

ESPN’s Joon Lee was quick to condemn Smith’s comments on Twitter yesterday, and fans got to see Lee give an in-depth take to Smith and the rest of the cast in the first hour. Check out a snippet of the appearance below.

All in all, Smith was raw and sincere on Tuesday during one of the more memorable hours of First Take. It would’ve been easy for the highest-paid media talent at ESPN to tweet out an apology and move on as nothing happened. Smith didn’t take the easy way out. Instead, he educated himself and the audience in the process. A rarity in today’s cancel culture climate.

“The reason that I bring up my Blackness is because of this,” Smith said. “On many occasions, what I have said when people have said something that is offensive, in any way, to the minority community, it’s not about how you feel. It is about how they feel.”

“The reality of the situation is that you have Asians and Asian Americans out there that obviously was very, very offended by what I had to say yesterday,” Smith continued. “I just want to look into the camera and extend my sincere apologies. That was not my intent. I’m not going to get into all that. I do understand that a lot of racists out there are quick to say that is not my intent. That’s not where I am going. I was wrong.”

Sports TV News

Liz Loza Joining ESPN As Fantasy and Sports Betting Expert

Loza will be a contributor on multiple platforms, and will make regular appearances on Fantasy Football Now, Fantasy Focus Football, Daily Wager, and other studio shows.

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Liz Loza is joining ESPN as a fantasy and sports betting analyst on a multi-year deal, the network announced Wednesday.

Loza will be a contributor on multiple platforms, and will make regular appearances on Fantasy Football Now, Fantasy Focus Football, Daily Wager, and other studio shows.

“I am thrilled to join ESPN’s best-in-class team of fantasy and betting analysts,” Loza said. “Collectively collaborating and creating content with this esteemed group – and for such an expansive and loyal fanbase – is an absolute honor. Be warned that I’m buying the dip on Cam Akers, and am always ready to bet on an underdog!”

Loza, who previously worked at Yahoo! Sports as well as co-hosting Ekeler’s Edge with Chargers running back Austin Ekeler, will make her ESPN debut today.

Her addition comes on the heels of ESPN Fantasy Football expert Matthew Berry departing in July.

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Sports TV News

John Ourand: NBC ‘Played Possum’ With Big Ten Rights

“For the longest time, I didn’t think they were serious. I had heard that their early bids were really tepid.”

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On the latest release of The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast, Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand marveled at the job NBC did to secure the Big Ten’s media rights, which is expected to be announced in the coming week.

“NBC played possum,” Ourand said. “For the longest time, I didn’t think they were serious. I had heard that their early bids were really tepid. Didn’t suggest that they were very serious. They already have a Notre Dame game that goes in there, and now they’re going to have the Big Ten. So they’re going to have Notre Dame leading into the Big Ten on Saturday night. They have the most watched primetime telecast going on –what are we at now? 11 years running? — on Sunday Night Football. And they’re gonna have, on the weekends, a really strong lineup.”

Ourand also pointed out the importance of NBC’s streaming platform, Peacock, in the deal and what that could mean for its future.

“Peacock is going to have some exclusive games. I can’t imagine — it’s certainly not going to be Ohio State/Michigan — but they’re going to have some exclusive games. And I can tell you, as a Maryland fan, if that exclusive game is Maryland versus Indiana, I’m subscribing to Peacock. That’s the whole point of streaming. It gets you into these really passionate, local fan bases and gets them to stream those games.

“NBC, coming from nowhere, to get what I think is a really good package — because I’ve been told ESPN’s deal did not include direct-to-consumer on ESPN+, it was a strict linear television deal — so NBC was able to do this for this for Peacock, which they need to build.”

Andrew Marchand, sports media columnist for The New York Post, pointed out more games on Peacock could potentially be better for fans than fewer exclusives.

“When you add one game here and one game there, it will annoy people,” Marchand said. “Maybe they get your service, or maybe you’re teaching people not to watch all your games.”

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Sports TV News

Curt Menefee to Call Two Seahawks Preseason Games

FOX NFL studio host Curt Menefee will be on the TV play-by-play for the preseason opener on August 13 and the finale on August 26.

Jordan Bondurant

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Curt Menefee

The 2022 NFL preseason is going to kick off in earnest later this week, and the Seattle Seahawks have revealed their broadcast crews for two of the team’s three preseason contests.

FOX NFL studio host Curt Menefee will be on the TV play-by-play for the preseason opener on August 13 and the finale on August 26. He’ll be joined in the booth by former Seahawk Michael Robinson. The games will air locally on KING 5, the city’s NBC affiliate.

Additionally for the TV broadcasts, Paul Silvi and Ray Roberts will host the pre and postgame shows, with former Seahawk Michael Bennett working as an analyst.

On the radio, Steve Raible and Dave Wyman will call all three games. Jen Mueller will be the sideline reporter. Michael Bumpus will be the studio host and will be joined by former players Jordan Babineaux, Paul Moyer, Roberts, Marcus Trufant and Robert Turbin.

Radio broadcasts air on Seattle Sports 710 AM and KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM and are distributed across Washington on the Seahawks Radio Network.

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