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Stephen A. Smith: ‘I Am A Winner, Bro. I Am Not Trying to Lose’

“I don’t worry about fans. Hell with that. You watch me for a reason. It ain’t the other way around. My attitude is this is my job and it’s what the hell I’m going to do.”

Ricky Keeler

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Whenever Stephen A. Smith is on another podcast or you see him making a guest appearance somewhere, he knows how much of an influence that he is because of who he is and who he represents.

Smith was a guest on the most recent episode of The Pivot Podcast with Channing Crowder, Fred Taylor, and Ryan Clark and told the trio that what makes him one of the most, if not the most influential person in sports media is the trust that ESPN shows in him.

“The biggest thing that makes me influential is the trust that they have in me. When I’m on a podcast or a news network, they don’t worry about me the way they would worry about other folks because they know I understand that I get the big picture,” said Smith.

“I am constantly aware of the fact that I don’t just represent me, I represent ESPN. As a result, I have to take into account what they think and what they feel… They appreciate that because I’m not throwing them into the bowl with me.”

Whenever Smith makes a point during a debate, he is very confident in what he says and it does not matter to him what any fan or player thinks.

“I’m incredibly confident in what I say. Meaning that I pride myself in being a human being,” he said. “I know I’m not trying to get personal and I know I’m just doing my job. I don’t worry about fans. Hell with that. You watch me for a reason. It ain’t the other way around. My attitude is this is my job and it’s what the hell I’m going to do.”

Sometimes, Smith can be hard on athletes for some of the things that they do. However, he says he is trying to protect those athletes from people who try to change their character off of one mistake.

“What I mean by that is I don’t try to protect players from being held accountable for what they do. I try to protect players from being character-assassinated as to who they are,” said Smith. “We have all made mistakes. What I’m not going to do as a black man in a position of influence is allow folks to look at another black athlete… I’m never going to allow somebody to look at y’all and say this is who you are because of something you did.

“For me to get in that position and forget that inherent responsibility that I believe I am supposed to have to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. To provide perspective is very, very important to me. It doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything. What it means is I try to articulate where you are coming from so people can understand that and judge it according to that.”

Even though Smith can show a variety of different moods away from the camera, he knows that when he’s on television, it’s about making sure that the audience is tuning in and stops flipping the channels because they want to hear him.

“I’m a multitude of things. I can be mellow, I can be loud, I can be bombastic or demonstrative, I can be quiet, I can be pissed off and mean as hell,” Smith said. “I can be very jovial and fun-loving. It all depends on what the moment calls for. None of us are truly, truly one-dimensional.”

“What I would tell you about me on television is this. I believe this in my soul. I am a winner, bro. I am not trying to lose. In television, it is about ratings and revenue. My whole position is who do you want to watch when you flip the channels?” he continued.

“When you are flipping through the channels, who are you going to stop and say let me see what this person has to say? In my mind, it is always me because I’m trying to show you that I am passionate and enthused about what we are talking about. I can’t do that if I’m mellow chilling in my house. I am projecting and asking the audience to stop what they are doing to watch me.”

Even though the show First Take was on the rise when Smith was debating Skip Bayless, he told the trio that whenever people would talk about the show to him years ago, he always gave credit to Bayless because in his mind, it was his show. Once Bayless left, it became Smith’s show in his eyes, as talented as Max Kellerman is:

“The moment Skip was gone, it was mine just like when I was there, it was Skip’s,” Smith said. “Once 2016 came, those four years that we were together, go back and read my clips. I don’t give a damn how much my star supposedly was rising. I always made it clear it was Skip’s show because he brought me there. He knew the formula for which the show would work, I followed his lead and I became what I am for First Take because of him.

“The same applies to anybody that comes to First Take now because just like he set the stage for me, I am setting the show for everybody.” 

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David Kaplan Leaving NBC Sports Chicago

“I was presented an opportunity that will allow me to spend a lot more time my wife, Mindy, our four sons, and their expanding families. This is far from a retirement.”

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David Kaplan has announced he is departing NBC Sports Chicago. In a video posted to his YouTube channel, Kaplan said a new path opened that he couldn’t turn down.

“I was presented an opportunity that will allow me to spend a lot more time my wife, Mindy, our four sons, and their expanding families. This is far from a retirement. You’ll still be able to catch me weekday mornings with Jonathan Hood on the Kap and JHood morning show on ESPN 1000. It will also allow me to provide you with more engaging and outstanding content right here on YouTube.”

Kaplan, who will turn 62 this weekend, accepted a buyout offered by NBCUniversal. He has hosted several different shows for the network during his tenure.

“He’s made enormous contributions to our network, and his passion, opinions and love of Chicago’s teams have made him a beloved and respected figure, not just with fans but also his colleagues,” NBC Sports Chicago Vice President of Content John Schippman told The Chicago Sun-Times. “We wish him the best and look forward to seeing what’s next.”

December 30th will be his final day at NBC Sports Chicago. He called his time with the network “an amazing run”.

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NASCAR Chasing Nearly $1 Billion Annual Rights Fee In Next TV Deal

“We work really closely together, both from a scheduling perspective, but also just in terms of how they monetize the sport.”

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The current media rights deal for NASCAR with FOX Sports and NBC Sports doesn’t end until after the 2024 season, but the organization is currently plotting what it wants its next deal to look like, according to a report from Front Office Sports.

Currently, NASCAR makes $820 million per year from the two networks. In its new rights deal, it is expected to seek a deal in the neighborhood of $900-950 million range.

NASCAR plans to begin negotiating with its current media partners in the early months of 2023, but is currently happy with FOX and NBC.

“We work really closely together, both from a scheduling perspective, but also just in terms of how they monetize the sport. Whether that’s pushing more brands and advertisers to spend on Fox and NBC,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Media and Productions Brian Herbst told FOS. “Fox had their third consecutive year of ad revenue increases in 2022. NBC had their second consecutive year of ad revenue increases in 2022. So it’s working for them — both from a viewership and an ad revenue perspective.”

In February of this year, NASCAR President Steve Phelps told the Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast that broadcast television “has to be a part” of the organization’s next television rights deal.

As its current media partners, FOX and NBC have exclusive negotiating windows with NASCAR.

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NFL Sunday Ticket Negotiations With Apple ‘Have Gotten Silly’

“Apple’s like, ‘OK, we can’t sell internationally. OK, that was important to us. And we can’t sell it exclusively against Fox and CBS. Well, OK. Well, that changes its value.’”

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A report from The Athletic details why the NFL has not announced a new partner for the NFL Sunday Ticket package. David Kaplan claims there have been continued hiccups in the negotiations, mentioning the bargaining has gotten sideways between the league and Apple.

“This negotiation has gotten silly. … Clearly, there’s a problem. I think it’s really clear Apple is learning things they didn’t know,” the anonymous NFL source told Kaplan. “What the conversation is, is Apple’s like, ‘OK, we can’t sell internationally. OK, that was important to us. And we can’t sell it exclusively against Fox and CBS. Well, OK. Well, that changes its value.’”

The report also details Amazon Prime and YouTube remain in the mix as potential suitors for the service, should talks with Apple and the league fall apart.

The NFL is looking for as much as $3.5 billion annually for rights to the service.

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