A new era of First Take is beginning on ESPN, one that Stephen A. Smith is adamant he didn’t push for. The commentator appeared on New York’s Hot 97 this week before ESPN’s announcement that Max Kellerman is moving to their morning radio lineup.
Smith was adamant on Monday that he couldn’t talk about the story until a decision was made, but he was clear in who had the final call.
“It’s not official yet,” Smith said. “I can assure you that the decision is ESPN, it is not mine. ESPN makes that call, and when they make a decision, obviously, there’s nowhere to run from the issues. I damn sure won’t, and I’ll be here to discuss it.”
The network made it official on Tuesday afternoon, moving Kellerman to work on ESPN Radio with Keyshawn Johnson and Jay Williams. Rumors are already swirling regarding Kellerman’s replacement. The previous statement by Smith contradicts Andrew Marchand’s column in The New York Post. Marchand writes that Smith was the driving force behind Kellerman leaving First Take.
“Smith has wanted Kellerman off First Take for years,” Marchand wrote in a piece detailing the move. “Though it wasn’t personal, according to sources, Kellerman has a ‘smartest guy in the room’ attitude, and Smith wanted more of a debating challenger. And ultimately, he wanted it to be him versus the world.”
This claim matches up with other interviews Smith has conducted where he notes the philosophical differences he and Kellerman bring to a debate desk. Marchand drove home the point with another sourced nugget.
“Smith has told everyone who needs to know, including Kellerman, that it didn’t work well enough, according to sources,” Marchand reported in the piece.
The new era of First Take marches on as Smith leads the way without a firm replacement for Kellerman.
Louis Riddick Explains How MNF Production Meetings Work
“Riddick expounded more on the production meetings with coaches, including one with a particular Bay Area play-caller.”
The Monday Night Football campaign is in full swing, and The Athletic’s Robert Mays had MNF analyst Louis Riddick on The Athletic Football Show to discuss his weekly routine for putting on a top-notch broadcast.
Riddick dove into the process each week and discussed which coach has impressed him the most during his time in the booth. Tuesdays are a rest and recovery day after traveling home — then the process starts on Wednesday.
“We kinda have a, from a booth perspective, between Steve Levy, Brian Griese, myself, and then Phil Dean the producer and Jimmy Platt, the director. Us five get together and just discuss the previous week’s game and whatever we want to bring up that is positive or negative,” Riddick described to Mays on the show.
The brain trust discusses play breakdowns, production, and situations that popped up during the game. Next up is choosing the important voices for the next game that they want to speak to.
“We give Phil the list of coaches and players that we think are important to talk to,” Riddick said. “He sends that into that team’s PR department, and then usually they say yay or no. Most teams are very, very good with giving us the players that we want because it’s better for them. They know the more we highlight them, the better it is for them.”
Riddick expounded more on the production meetings with coaches, including one with a particular Bay Area play-caller.
“I would say our meeting with [San Francisco 49ers head coach] Kyle Shanahan,” Riddick answered. “Before we did the Bills game down in Arizona because they had to move from Santa Clara because of what was happening was some of the best football conversations I’ve ever had in my life, quite honestly. From team building, coach-player relationships, X’s and O’s, the opponent, what he learned from his father, what he feels specifically that running backs need to have and why… It was fricken incredible, incredible.”
Riddick can be seen on Monday Night Football breaking down all the action throughout the 2021 NFL season. Listen to the full episode here.
Women in Sports Media Celebrate Kate Scott Joining 76ers
“The west coast native is heading east to continue pursuing her dreams, and she received a ton of support from the women throughout sports media this week.”
Kate Scott is breaking new ground, and the sports broadcasting community took notice.
Scott joined Lisa Byington as the only full-time female voices of NBA franchises when the Philadelphia 76ers announced her addition this week. She replaces longtime TV play-by-play voice Marc Zumoff.
“Being the voice of the 76ers is a dream come true,” Scott said to NBC Sports Philadelphia. “As a kid playing hoops alone in my driveway, I actually used to imagine I was Allen Iverson; the clock would wind down in my head, people would scream, ‘You’re too small! You don’t belong!’ But I’d fade away, hit the shot, and the crowd in my mind would go wild.
“To now get the opportunity to be the voice of that team is incredible, and I look forward to earning the respect and trust of the phenomenal city of Philadelphia, and 76ers fans everywhere, one call and one game at a time.”
Scott seemingly busts down barriers every year. She recently became the first woman to call Olympic men’s basketball as part of NBC Sports’ coverage of Tokyo 2020, where she covered both men’s and women’s games.
“Kate’s energy, passion, and tremendous knowledge of the game of basketball made her the ideal candidate to usher in a new era of 76ers basketball on NBC Sports Philadelphia,” Philadelphia 76ers President of Business Operations Chris Heck said. “We’re thrilled that she’ll call our city home and look forward to the lasting connections and memories she’ll make with the best fans in sports. Kate and Alaa [Abdelnaby] are a dynamic broadcast pairing that 76ers fans will enjoy watching on the call this season and beyond.”
The west coast native is heading east to continue pursuing her dreams, and she received a ton of support from women throughout sports media this week.
ESPN Taking Sunday NFL Countdown To Foxboro
ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown show will be live from Gillette Stadium on October 3rd.
Tom Brady going against his former team the New England Patriots is something that every NFL fan will be front and center next Sunday. It seems that ESPN is no exception, as they have announced that Sunday NFL Countdown show will be live from Gillette Stadium on October 3rd.
Will ESPN bring in some Boston-centric guests? It is possible, although the Sunday NFL Countdown crew already features two former Patriots in Randy Moss and Tedy Bruschi and a former Boston College quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck. Even Rex Ryan is tangentially connected to the Patriots, having coached two of the team’s division rivals.
The dynamic between these charismatic former players and coach in a live show setting should be one that the fans should be very excited for.
For the live show, ESPN is encouraging all fans to come out to watch free of charge starting at 10 a.m EST. For those who come an hour early to the show, there will be a giveaway starting at 9 a.m.
Kickoff for the actual game will be at 8:20 p.m EST on NBC. In that way, this won’t feel entirely different from College GameDay at ESPN, with the show in the morning before all of the kickoffs and the big game not until primetime.
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