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Stephen A. Smith: ‘I’ve Never Lost a Debate Ever’

“When it comes to basketball, I’m really asking you as a technicality. I know the answer. I just want to see whether or not you are going to lie to me about it.”

Ricky Keeler

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Whether it’s Skip Bayless, Max Kellerman, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, or any other people Stephen A. Smith debates or has debated on First Take in the past, one thing you will find out is that he never feels he has lost that debate.

On the latest episode of Just Getting Started with Rich Eisen (now Suzy Shuster) on the Cumulus Podcast Network, Smith said that even when he doesn’t feel like he won a debate, learning something about that topic in the end makes him believe he couldn’t ever possibly lose.

“I’ve never lost a debate ever,” said Smith. “I’m either right or I’ve learned something new by being wrong, which makes me brighter, more intelligent about that particular issue we were broaching, which means I’m a winner because I’m going to be better for it than I was before we started the debate. How did I lose?”

While Smith knows he has a lot of knowledge about all sports, basketball is the one sport that he’ll use questions to figure out if people are telling the truth. Some of that comes from his experience playing college basketball at Winston-Salem State University. 

“When it comes to basketball, I know basketball. When it comes to sports, I know football from watching it, I know baseball from watching it,” Smith explained. “Boxing and stuff, I know enough of it to be able to interview you about it and ask you questions and things of that nature. When it comes to basketball, I’m really asking you as a technicality. I know the answer. I just want to see whether or not you are going to lie to me about it. That’s really the difference between me covering basketball and covering every other sport.

“I know the nooks and crannies of it all. I also studied in a way where I am looking for certain things. When I go to a team or a player, I’ve spoken to them ahead of time about what their definition of success is. I evaluate whether it vibes with my thought of what their definition of success should be and I judge their actions accordingly as the season goes on. I’ve been that way since Day 1 in my career.”

Even when players might disagree with what Smith has to say, he said he’s confident enough to have that conversation. With the confidence he shows, players ultimately learn that they might disagree, but Smith shows them he know what he’s talking about.

“When I talk basketball with guys and they’ve attacked me or come at me… we can sit down and have a conversation,” said Smith. “By the time I said bring your boys since you’re so bold…they quickly learn, ‘He does know what he’s talking about.’ Even if they disagree with me, they know that I know what I’m talking about. Those are the kind of things that influenced my career tremendously because it gave me a confidence I never had anywhere else.”

Towards the end of the interview, Shuster asked Smith why he thinks he resonates with so many people and he thinks it is because of his authenticity.

“I believe it’s because people know they can trust me to say what I truly mean,” Smith said. “It doesn’t mean I’m going to be right. It doesn’t mean they are not going to disagree with me. They know they can trust me to be who the hell I say I am. When I say something, I actually mean it and I’m not saying it for effects, not saying it for ratings, not saying it for clicks or just so you read my article.

“I want you to do those things because I want to get paid, but I mean what I say and I’m fearless with it. I think they see this fearlessness that I approach my job with and I think you combine that with the fact that I say the things that people think and say off-the-air, but they don’t believe it can be said on-the-air, that’s where it all started.”

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ESPN Officially Re-Signs Mina Kimes to Multi-Year Contract

Kimes originally joined ESPN in 2014, where she has since made her stamp on the company in multiple disciplines.

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Mina Kimes

Get ready for more Mina Kimes on your ESPN airwaves. The company officially announced it re-signed its star NFL correspondent to a multi-year deal, shattering the hopes of Dan LeBatard Show fans everywhere.

Kimes originally joined ESPN in 2014, where she has since made her stamp on the company in multiple disciplines. She started as a writer for ESPN The Magazine and various ESPN websites before moving to an on-air personality for NFL Live, Around the Horn, and First Take. Kimes also hosts a podcast that also recently launched a YouTube channel to provide video content.

2023 has been a busy one for Mina. Earlier this year, Kimes agreed to terms with Meadowlark Media, LeBatard’s media company, to make sporadic appearances on his weekly podcast, while also agreeing to a new deal with ESPN. There’s been no word whether that deal is the same one that is being announced now or involves something different for Kimes.

Mina Kimes also allegedly turned down a lucrative offer from NFL Network to stay at ESPN, albeit on new terms. She also announced the birth of her first child, a son, fittingly during a Monday Night Football contest between her beloved Seattle Seahawks and the New York Giants.

Kimes said the familiarity with ESPN personalities was a key factor in her decision to stick around at the Worldwide Leader. “The biggest reason is I just really love the people that I work with, especially my family on NFL Live,” Kimes told Awful Announcing.

“It’s a little cliche to call them family, but they really are to me. They’re not only wonderful human beings and amazing to work with every day, but they challenge me, we push each other, and we make what I believe is one of the best shows on television. So just for me, probably the biggest appeal was just working with the people that I love so much there in particular.”

Mina Kimes also returns to ESPN today following her maternity leave.

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Greg Olsen: I’m Not Chasing an NFL Head Coaching Job

“This is not something I’m actively pursuing. I would call the A game at FOX for 30 years if that was what was in the cards.”

Ricky Keeler

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Greg Olsen
Courtesy: FOX Sports

With his former team, the Carolina Panthers, in search of a new head coach this offseason, there was a report last week from Joseph Person of The Athletic that the man who was the Panther tight end for 9 years and current FOX broadcaster Greg Olsen would be interested in the position if he was approached for it.

Olsen was a guest on The Rich Eisen Show on Thursday and he told Eisen that being a coach is not something that he is actively trying to pursue at this time.

“This is not something I’m chasing. This is not something I’m actively pursuing. I would call the A game at FOX for 30 years if that was what was in the cards. We all know how this world works. People come and go. Opportunities come and go. I’m never a believer in slamming the door on anything that you love.”

“That became kind of a big story this week. Obviously, there’s a lot of speculation and rumor and whatnot. I think the best thing I would say is ‘Who wouldn’t?’ This is a city that I love,” Greg Olsen admitted. “This is a team that I played the bulk of my career for. I want to see them have success. I live here, my kids are here.”

He continued by noting that he would listen to the offer if approached, despite not angling for the job.

“I would be crazy to entertain and take that conversation. This is a game I love. This is a game that I have been involved in my entire life. How that all plays out, I don’t know.

“I love doing what I do now. Calling games, studying games, I love doing this. How that future unfolds, a lot of this is out of any of our control.”

Greg Olsen took that question and used it to bring out a larger conversation as to why people overreact if a former player without as much coaching experience gets immediately dismissed as an idea for an open spot such as what happened when Jeff Saturday went from ESPN to being the interim coach of the Colts last year.

“What I will say is a larger conversation that has nothing to do with me, we saw it last year with Jeff Saturday taking over. I think there is an instant reaction that unless you have lived the NFL lifestyle in that ladder, you can’t be successful. I think we have to be careful saying experience leads to competence in all industries.

“Look at John Lynch. John Lynch had no experience in personnel and I’d say he has done a good job. We have to be careful thinking experience is the only prerequisite to be good at anything, coaching, broadcasting. Why do we just dismiss that as a pathway? Other sports don’t dismiss it. I don’t have the answer, but I think it’s an interesting conversation.”

As for answering the question itself, Eisen thought it was great because it showed how genuine Olsen is without trying to dismiss the question the second it was asked to him despite how difficult it is to answer. 

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Amazon Prime Video Sees Record Ratings in Latest Thursday Night Football Broadcast

This growth comes alongside news that the Black Friday game between the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets produced TNF’s lowest ratings of the season.

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Thursday Night Football is off to a historic start in 2023 thanks in part to a thrilling contest between the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys. Seahawks/Cowboys averaged 15.26 million viewers and attracted a peak audience of almost 18 million viewers on Prime Video, making it the most-watched game ever on Prime Video and the most streamed NFL game ever.

The previous high was the Sept. 14 matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles at 10.4 million viewers. Seahawks/Cowboys was also the sixth TNF contest to average more than 12 million viewers.

Through 11 weeks, TNF is averaging 12.58 million viewers, an increase of 29 percent from last season’s 11-game average. Unsurprisingly, TNF wins Thursday night each week, because nothing beats NFL football in the United States, to the tune of 151 percent viewership over the second program of the night.

This growth comes alongside news that the Black Friday game between the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets produced TNF’s lowest ratings of the season, averaging just 9.61 million viewers.

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