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Maria Taylor On Upcoming Documentary, Leaving ESPN, Career Ambitions

“I don’t want to talk about her,” Taylor said about Rachel Nichols.

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In recent months, Maria Taylor’s move to NBC Sports has proven to be a significantly beneficial decision for her career. Since leaving ESPN in July, Taylor has hosted coverage of the 2021 Summer Olympics, Football Night in America during the NFL season, the 2022 Winter Olympics, and Super Bowl LVI.

Regardless of the circumstances under which she left ESPN and the role tensions with Rachel Nichols over hosting NBA Countdown, in addition to her contract negotiations, it’s difficult to imagine Taylor could receive a better showcase than she has in her short time with NBC.

Another aspect of Taylor’s career growth at NBC was revealed during Super Bowl pregame coverage with the announcement of an upcoming project that she’ll be working on with legendary producer Lorne Michaels for Peacock. The eight-part documentary series will chronicle the history of Black quarterbacks and is scheduled to air during Super Bowl week next year.

“Now, if you turn on your TV, it is not unusual to see a Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson — you know, insert whoever — they dominate the NFL,” Taylor told Vanity Fair‘s Joy Press. “But it wasn’t long ago that not only was it rare, but it didn’t happen… It was believed that maybe they weren’t intelligent enough or they lacked the leadership skills.”

The Peacock docuseries fulfills one of Taylor’s ambitions, to tell untold stories. Could she have had an opportunity to produce such a project at ESPN under the ESPN Films or E60 banners? For ESPN+, if not the network’s linear channels? We’ll never know. The Vanity Fair piece also mentions that Taylor is developing scripted series with the same goal in mind.

Naturally, Press also asked Taylor about the end of her time at ESPN and the circumstances that led to her departure. Those looking for Taylor to say something juicy about Nichols, perhaps clapping back against Nichols’ assertion that Taylor was named host of NBA Countdown during the NBA Finals because she’s Black, will be disappointed, however.

“I don’t want to talk about her,” Taylor said to Press when asked if she’s talked to Nichols since her comments were made public by the New York Times.

Yet Taylor didn’t criticize ESPN, instead expressing gratitude for what she learned there and the opportunities she received.

“Everything that I’ve learned since I graduated college, everything that I learned was there,” she said. “I was promoted, given my first opportunities; so many great things happened. So I could never say that.”

The entire Vanity Fair feature is worth reading, which includes Taylor’s thoughts on a key reason she wanted to work at NBC, how she’s enjoyed Olympics coverage because it places female athletes at the forefront, and the importance of being a role model.

Sports TV News

FanDuel TV Strikes Deal With ONE Championship Martial Arts

“We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

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FanDuel TV and ONE Championship Martial Arts have struck a deal that will see the MMA, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and submission grappling series air weekly events on the newly launched channel.

“We’re eager to continue expanding the variety of content we’re offering at FanDuel TV to introduce our audience to emerging sports,” said FanDuel Chief Commercial Officer Mike Raffensperger. “We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

ONE Championship is a top-five global sports property for digital viewership and engagement according to Nielsen measurements.

“We are thrilled to join the FanDuel TV lineup and give our passionate U.S. audience yet another way to engage with ONE Championship,” said ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. “Having a quality partner in FanDuel will help raise the profile of our company in the region and provide their viewers with action-packed martial arts events like they have never seen before.”

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Bob Costas Re-Lives First Announcing Assignment For NBC

“My biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979.”

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Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas appeared on KNBR’s Tolbert & Copes Thursday to discuss the death of Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. But before the conversation turned to the recently departed pitcher, the show asked Costas about what he has announced that would surprise someone. He reminisced about his first time on the air for NBC.

“My very first assignment for NBC, my biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979,” Costas recounted. “There was a program on NBC then called Sports World. It was an anthology series that was their answer to the gold standard, ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

“So they traveled the globe, like Wide World of Sports did. So they sent me, wearing a red NBC jacket, to Tokyo to cover a sumo wrestling tournament with seven-time world power-lifting champion Larry Pacifico as my color man. Now, this is all the Japanese I learned as we came on the air: ‘Minasan kon’nichwa watashinoamaeha Bob Costas’, which means ‘Hello everyone, my name is Bob Costas’. If ever there was typecasting, when they sat and looked at their roster of announcers and went ‘Who should we send to the sumo wrestling? It’s gotta be Costas, who’s entire body weight would constitute one meal for the sumo wrestling champion.”

Costas departed NBC Sports in 2019 after 40 years with the network, announcing MLB, NBA, and the Olympics, in addition to his work with the network’s sumo wrestling coverage.

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Matt Leinart, Alex Smith Make Wager Over Pac-12 Championship Game

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous. I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.”

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FOX Sports analyst Matt Leinart and ESPN analyst Alex Smith have made a friendly wager over the upcoming Pac-12 Championship Game.

USC, Leinart’s alma mater, is slated to play Utah, where Smith attended, in the game Friday evening on FOX from Las Vegas.

The two agreed to don the other player’s jersey. “At least it will be 11,” Smith said, noting he and Leinart both wore the number during their playing days.

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous,” Leinart said when presented with the offer. “I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.” Smith jokingly responded by calling USC “Free Agent University”. He added he would overnight Leinart a jersey to ensure he had one if the Utes were victorious.

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