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Jimmy Pitaro Personally Oversaw ESPN Pursuit Of Troy Aikman

“This resulted in many ESPN staffers finding out that a deal was done with Troy Aikman when they read about it in the New York Post.”

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Steve Fenn / ESPN Images

How big of a priority was overhauling the Monday Night Football booth for ESPN? So big that the boss handled it himself. According to Richard Deitsch of The Athletic, negotiations between ESPN and Troy Aikman were led by none other than ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro.

According to Deitsch’s sources, negotiations were kept relatively quiet. Pitaro wanted to “keep the circle small” in order to avoid complications. This resulted in many ESPN staffers finding out that a deal was done with Troy Aikman when they read about it in the New York Post.

Jimmy Pitaro saw someone he thought could improve his product. Disney executives trusted him to step in, eliminate distractions and get a deal done. Could that be a window into how ESPN gets big money deals done in the future?

We will know for sure as rights deals come up for renewal. The first one on the table is the Big Ten, which will draw plenty of competition for ESPN and FOX. Deitsch points out that the NBA will soon be looking to negotiate its next deal too. How much would Pitaro be willing to shell out to keep what ESPN currently has if a third rights package comes on the table?

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SportsNet Pittsburgh Adds Four New On-Air Members to Broadcast Team

Former big leaguers Steven Brault, Jordy Mercer and Alex Presley join the network as in-studio analysts, while Hannah Mears joins as a sideline reporter.

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SportsNet Pittsburgh just went on a free agent signing spree, adding three former MLB players as analysts and a former Big Ten Network voice as sideline reporter. Steven Brault, Jordy Mercer and Alex Presley join the network as in-studio analysts for the channels’ pre-and post-game shows, while former Big Ten Network talent Hannah Mears joins the network as a sideline reporter.

According to TribLive, Brault, Mercer, and Pressly will join the network’s existing roster of analysts like Michael McKenry, Matt Capps, Bob Walk and Kevin Young. The new trio have each played multiple seasons for the Pirates — Brault six, Mercer seven, and Pressly three and change.

Mears will join Dan Potash and Hailey Hunter as a sideline reporter. While TribLive reports that the latter will host as well as report on games, it’s not been made clear whether Mears will do both jobs as well. She announced the move via her X account earlier:

Recently, SportsNet Pittsburgh announced a deal where it will remain the TV home of the Pirates. The Pirates begin their regular season Mar. 28 on the road against the Miami Marlins.

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JJ Redick In War of Words with Barstool Podcaster Patrick Beverley

“I had a four year offer with player option for the same money to be a starter for a different team. FOH ‘saved my career’.”

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JJ Redick
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Just days after he was promoted to ESPN’s top NBA broadcast team, JJ Redick is in a war of words with Barstool Sports podcaster (and Milwaukee Bucks guard) Patrick Beverley over comments the former made about Doc Rivers. The same Doc Rivers who Redick just replaced on ESPN’s A team — and Beverley’s current head coach.

Earlier today on First Take, Redick called out Rivers for a lack of accountability throughout his career. “It’s always an excuse, it’s always throwing your team under the bus,” Redick said about Rivers. “There’s never accountability with that guy.” Rivers was Redick’s coach while both were members of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Beverley responded to Redick’s words via X with some harsh criticism, saying “This Man Doc actually saved your career. Started you when no one else wanted 2. And u retire go on TV and say that.”

Redick quickly responded to Beverley, casting doubt upon the guard’s words, and said he had another starting-caliber offer available to him when he chose to play for the Clippers, then dismissed Beverley’s comments.

Redick is no stranger to controversy since joining the sports media space. Redick went after fellow ESPNer Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo for comments the longtime WFAN host made about Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown. He also called Russo out for defending NBA stars like Bob Cousy who the former Duke guard said, “played against plumbers and firemen.”

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Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay To Serve as Lead Analyst for Mexico Open Coverage on NBC

Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay will serve as NBC’s lead golf analyst for the PGA Tour Mexico Open while his partner, Justin Thomas, takes the event off.

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Jim "Bones" Mackay providing golf analysis for NBC
Courtesy: Getty Images via Golfweek

NBC is adding another name to its tryout list to serve as a lead analyst on its golf coverage, and it’s current PGA Tour caddy Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay. Mackay will serve as NBC’s lead golf analyst for the PGA Tour Mexico Open while his partner, Justin Thomas, takes the event off.

According to USA Today’s Golfweek, Mackay isn’t keen on making this a full-time gig, something he made known to NBC brass before signing on. He’s committed to caddying for Thomas, who will take this week off after playing four of the last five PGA Tour events. Mackay has worked for NBC in the past, serving as an on-course reporter in 2017 and providing spot coverage at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship last season.

A spokesman for NBC Sports told Golfweek that Mackay will serve as an on-course reporter on Thursday, then move to the booth for the remaining three rounds alongside veteran pro Brad Faxon, with Steve Sands and Dan Hicks rotating as host.

NBC has been trying different voices in the booth since laying off Paul Azinger in November. Since then, multiple analysts have stepped into the booth for NBC. Former Tour winner Kevin Kisner stepped in for NBC’s first two events of the season, while Brandel Chamblee stepped in for its coverage of “The American Express.” Reports indicated NBC was interested in adding Geoff Ogilvy to its golf coverage, but the former U.S. Open winner hasn’t been featured on the network yet.

Before caddying for Thomas, Mackay served as Phil Mickelson’s caddy for 25 years. Mackay was by Mickelson’s side during all but one of his major championships, including all three of his Masters wins.

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