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Stephen A. Smith Apologizes For Implying Jehovah’s Witnesses Are Anti-Vaccine

“Andrew Wiggins also was hesitant about taking the vaccine. He’s a Jehovah’s Witness, from what I’m told.”

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On Thursday’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith apologized to Jehovah’s Witnesses for implying that the denomination is opposed to taking the COVID-19 vaccine while discussing Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins being voted to the NBA All-Star team as a Western Conference starter.

“I made a mistake last week and I want to make sure that I clarify myself,” Smith said (via Mediaite’s Brandon Contes). “Last week, when discussing the incredible accomplishments of Andrew Wiggins this season… I introduced his religion in the discussion about vaccination.

“I could have and should have been more clear in that discussion. Because I fully understand that Jehovah’s Witnesses have no specific opposition to the vaccine. I did not make that clear, so I want to make sure I make that now and my apologies for the mishap.”

The video clip is available to watch at Mediaite.

Smith made his remarks in reaction to the NBA All-Star starters being announced. Wiggins being named to this season’s NBA All-Star team. The eight-year veteran is averaging 18.3 points and shooting 42 percent from three-point range.

“Andrew Wiggins also was hesitant about taking the vaccine. He’s a Jehovah’s Witness, from what I’m told,” Smith said on First Take. “And took [the vaccine] because ‘my team needs me.’”

Being characterized as anti-vaccine on a national sports program caused some unhappiness and misconception to which Jehovah’s Witnesses felt compelled to reply.

Smith was critical of Wiggins earlier in the season when the Warriors star sought a religious exemption from taking the vaccine, which the NBA denied. Faced with not being able to play home games in San Francisco, where attendees to large indoor events were required to show they were vaccinated, Wiggins eventually ceded and got vaccinated.

Last July, Smith apologized for remarks he made about Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani, saying he couldn’t be the face of Major League Baseball because he doesn’t speak English. For a good part of that First Take episode, he listened to several ESPN staffers including Jeff Passan and Joon Lee tell him why he was wrong.

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Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX

“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”

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FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.

The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.

Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.

That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.

Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.

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FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”

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The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.

Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.

Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”

Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.

FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.

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NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC

“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”

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ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.

ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.

This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.

Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.

“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”

ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.

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