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Chris Russo Joins ‘First Take’ as Regular Wednesday Guest As of Feb. 16

Viewers among both fans and media enjoyed Russo’s appearance and the SiriusXM host’s spirited debate with Smith in late January.

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Chris Russo First Take
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The people spoke and First Take has answered.

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo is joining ESPN’s morning show as a regular Wednesday guest co-host. He’ll join Stephen A. Smith and Molly Qerim on next Wednesday’s show (Feb. 16) and will then become part of the regular guest rotation every Wednesday beginning March 2.

Two weeks ago, Russo appeared on First Take to debate Smith about the Baseball Hall of Fame election results. In particular, the two argued over whether or not Barry Bonds, MLB’s all-time single-season and career home run leader, should have been inducted in his final year on the ballot.

Viewers among both fans and media enjoyed Russo’s appearance and the SiriusXM host’s spirited debate with Smith. People responded positively to someone matching Stephen A.’s volume and passion with an equally heated response. Mad Dog yelled back! Even better, he called Stephen A. “Stevie,” adding a note of playfulness to the noise.

“In January, First Take aired its most-watched episode ever and fans are continuing to turn to the show for can’t-miss reactions to big time moments and breaking news,” said ESPN executive vice president and executive editor of production, Norby Williamson, in the network’s official announcement.

“We couldn’t be more excited to add another marquee name in Chris “Mad Dog” Russo to our weekly rotating lineup and further build this momentum going forward, providing viewers with the best possible debates, topics and content.”

Russo joins the rotating cast of co-hosts, analysts, and insiders that regularly appear on First Take, including Michael Irvin, Jay Williams, Ryan Clark, Damien Woody, Kimberley A. Martin, Chiney Ogwumike, Kendrick Perkins, Dan Orlovsky, and Mina Kimes.

Sports TV News

Kathryn Tappen Joining NBC’s Big Ten Coverage

“Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.”

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NBC has tabbed Kathryn Tappen as its sideline reporter for the network’s upcoming coverage of Big Ten football, according to a report from Andrew Marchand of The New York Post.

According to Marchand, Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.

Tappen has hosted Notre Dame football’s studio coverage and Peacock Sunday Night Football Final. She also worked as NBC’s lead interviewer for its coverage of the PGA Tour, but left that broadcast team at the end of 2022 as part of the network’s larger shakeup of its golf coverage.

The appointment of Kathryn Tappen conceivably concludes the Big Ten on NBC broadcast crew. Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge are expected to pair as the network’s play-by-play announcer and color analyst, respectively. NBC has yet to officially unveil its coverage plans for the 2023 college football season.

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Sports TV News

Peter King: Sean McVay Wants to be a Star, ‘Not Just Some Guy on TV’

“I do think he had some regret over not taking a two- or three-year hiatus last year and taking one of the big TV jobs. Amazon? Maybe FOX? But if he really wanted to jump after winning the Super Bowl, he would have.”

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L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay will remain at his post for the 2023-24 season. The team tweeted that news Friday afternoon, seeming to, at least for now, put the rumors of McVay leaving coaching for a TV job to rest.

ProFootballTalk’s Peter King wrote in Football Morning in America on Monday that McVay understands the kind of position on television he’s looking for may not necessarily be there for him.

“I don’t think that was the only thing about TV that appealed to him, but I don’t think McVay was interested in being Just a Guy on TV,” King wrote. “I do think he had some regret over not taking a two- or three-year hiatus last year and taking one of the big TV jobs. Amazon? Maybe FOX? But if he really wanted to jump after winning the Super Bowl, he would have.”

King noted that McVay has been told to “Do what makes you happy” by folks with the Rams. He also said he believes coaching is what Makes McVay happy. Especially with a chance to shake up his coaching staff and being involved in trying to bring the team back from a 5-12 season in their follow-up campaign to winning the Super Bowl.

“He wants to be challenged, and this staff wasn’t doing it,” King said. “Offensive coordinator Liam Coen may not have been what McVay wanted in an OC—a coach who would challenge him and bring new ideas to him—and that could be why he’s going back to the University of Kentucky as a coordinator.”

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Sports TV News

Lisa Salters Makes Monday Night Football History Completing 11th Season on Sideline

“Salters has been with ESPN for almost 23 years. She started as a general assignment reporter before moving to sideline reporting in 2006.”

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Monday night’s Cowboys/Bucs wild card playoff game set a new milestone for ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters.

The network tweeted that Salters completed her 11th season in that role. That makes her the longest tenured reporter in Monday Night Football history.

Salters has been with ESPN for almost 23 years. She started as a general assignment reporter before moving to sideline reporting in 2006.

“When I first got the call to do Monday Night Football, I would have never thought that 10 years later I would still be doing it,” Salters said last year in a video reminiscing on ten years on Monday Night Football. “I was at home and I got a phone call from my boss Vince Doria and he said, ‘Hey, I was wondering if you would be interested in being a sideline reporter for Monday Night Football‘, and I couldn’t believe what he just asked me.”

Salters is also featured on network coverage of the NBA, something she’s been doing since 2005.

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