Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports is reporting that Maria Taylor is closing in on a deal that would see her leave ESPN for NBC. A source describes negotiations as “at the half-yard line. But that can still be a long way in contract negotiations.”
Taylor’s contract at ESPN expires this month. Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported that she was seeking “Stephen A. Smith money” in her next deal. Her current contract at ESPN pays her $1 million annually. The network offered to triple that. Maria Taylor and her representatives want at least $5 million per year.
Financial terms of the negotiations with NBC were not reported, but it sounds like the network has big plans for Taylor. McCarthy reports that her sports duties would include hosting Football Night in America and Notre Dame football. NBC News could also have work for Taylor as well, with a spot on the Today Show being a possibility.
In addition to her contract negotiations, Taylor has also been at the center of a diversity controversy. Earlier this month an audio recording made last year captured Rachel Nichols saying Taylor was being given the studio host role on NBA Finals coverage because ESPN was feeling “diversity pressure.” President Jimmy Pitaro sent a memo to his staff assuring them that was not true.
Taylor is already a star at ESPN and her profile continues to rise. Her spots on NBA Countdown and College GameDay have led to not only increased visibility, but also to a number of commercial deals. Losing her would be a blow to both the network’s College Football and NBA coverage.
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.
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.
Gus Johnson: Aqib Talib Has A Very Bright Future In TV
“The duo joined the Sports Media with Richard Deitsch podcast on The Athletic this week.”
This Sunday, FOX will unveil a new broadcast team as Gus Johnson and 12-year NFL veteran cornerback Aqib Talib will be on the call for the Vikings-Cardinals matchup.
Calling games isn’t new for Talib. He was in the booth for two games last season, and he was part of the Los Angeles Rams’ preseason television crew. However, he has never done a game with Johnson, who fans are excited to hear on NFL games again.
The duo joined the Sports Media with Richard Deitsch podcast on The Athletic this week. Johnson is very high on Talib’s future in the business.
“Aqib had called games last year and we talked about me calling some games and it kind of just fell into place,” the excitable play-by-play man said. “It was kind of the perfect situation for us to work together because we feel really confident and strong about Aqib’s talent. We think he has a very, very bright future as a broadcaster. They wanted to put him with someone who had a little experience and I was excited about getting back in the NFL. The way I like to say it, it was perfect…It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Talib mentioned that he has an eight-game schedule at FOX this season. He will call Cardinals-Jaguars in Week 3 and Lions-Bears in Week 4 with Johnson.
“I thought we sounded good. I’m a people person, so I will vibe with just about anybody you put me with,” Talib said of his partner. “When I was with Gus, Gus has a way with making me more comfortable. When we did the practice game, I just felt more comfortable sitting there. After hanging out with Gus, I can tell you right now I will feel a lot more comfortable than any other booth I have sat in because we are building a relationship.”
When viewers hear Talib call games, they are getting more of the defensive perspective as opposed to hearing an analyst that is a quarterback. Johnson is drawn to Talib’s authenticity and insinuated that he may be a little jealous of the broadcast industry the former defensive back is starting in versus the one Johnson himself walked into.
“I’ve heard Aqib do games and yes he does sound different and that’s a good thing because nobody’s made up the same way. It’s a different sound from what we are accustomed to hearing, but I think it is a great sound and I think the sound is going to continue to improve as he does this more. The world is changing, that’s what I realize. I’m 54 years old, I look at the world and I see how people react to authenticity and it is kind of refreshing. I came in at a time where there was kind of a standard sound. This is going to be fun.”
With Johnson’s enthusiasm that for calling games and Talib’s different perspective on the game, this should make for a fun broadcast duo.
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