Pro Football Talk has become one of the must-read sites for football fans. Mike Florio started the site in 2001 and has never been shy about sharing his opinions. In a recent interview with Awful Announcing, he explained that sometimes the people he writes about let him know how they feel about those opinions.
During an interview to promote Florio’s new book Playmakers, writer Michael Grant asked Florio how often he hears directly from the NFL office when they object to an opinion. Florio said that since Pro Football Talk partnered with NBC, his bosses have never told him what he can and cannot write. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t hear complaints from the outside.
“It happens,” he said. “Sometimes I go into a story knowing that it’s going to happen. Sometimes I go into a story expecting it to happen and it doesn’t happen. Sometimes it’s something that I didn’t think anybody was going to care about at all. It blows up and I have to get on the phone with someone from the league or talk to someone from NBC.”
When asked to describe his most memorable conflict with the NFL, Mike Florio pointed to the tryout the league set up for Colin Kaepernick in 2019. Florio says that he had some strong opinions about the language the league put in a release lawyers wanted Kaepernick to sign.
“The two sides got into a back and forth and the whole thing fell apart. I was expressing some pretty strong opinions about that. The league office didn’t like it, but they didn’t say anything (at first) They let it fester. It eventually erupted on a Friday afternoon. The next thing I knew I was on a conference call trying to help everyone understand.”
Mike Florio also talked about his most intense run in with a coach. That came when Dirk Koetter waited months to confront Florio about a question Florio asked him on NBC Sports Radio’s Pro Football Talk Live.
Koetter had just been named the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, replacing Lovie Smith. There was some speculation that Koetter had been interviewed for another head coaching job and used the prospect of leaving the team and quarterback Jameis Winston as a bargaining chip for the promotion.
Florio says he asked Koetter about that rumor. The coach gave an answer that he described as “very fair and rational” and he did not think anything of it again until he was confronted by the coach months later at the league meetings.
“I’d never met Dirk Koetter, and I walked up to say hi to him. He chewed (me out) for 10 or 15 minutes. I tried to explain to him how this works. He didn’t want to hear it. It was awkward. At the time I felt bad. But the more I thought about it, the more I got upset because if you have a problem with what I said, don’t wait until you have a chance to jump me. Especially since my wife was with me.”
Sports Illustrated Accused of Attributing AI-Generated Stories to Fake Human Authors
Futurism reports that “Sports Illustrated” and other publications from The Arena Group have been attributing AI-generated articles to fabricated human authors.
As the prevalence of artificial intelligence continues to grow within the evolving media marketplace, there have been discussions regarding the ethics of the practice. A report from Futurism asserts that Sports Illustrated has been using the technology to publish articles written by the software, purchasing automatically generated profile photos from an online marketplace in order to give the author a human identity.
Within the report, it was averred that the publication routinely alters the AI personas on the website by changing the faux name and author photo, with there being no explanation towards the move. When Futurism reached out to The Arena Group – the publisher of Sports Illustrated – with questions about the practice, the AI personalities were hastily removed from the website.
Several industry professionals have commented on the matter through social media, expressing their dismay and concerns about the purported revelation. Outside of Sports Illustrated, Futurism discovered that many other publications have engaged in the practice, including CNET, Gizmodo and BuzzFeed. When the authors were changed on Sports Illustrated, there was no editorial note describing the rationale behind the decision. An anonymous source told Futurism that the content is “absolutely AI-generated no matter how much they say it’s not,” leading to dismay and interest in how the company will respond.
“Our staff works so hard to carry on Sports Illustrated’s tradition of great journalism,” senior writer Michael Rosenberg said in a post on X. “It’s so disappointing when people* in our own company undermine our work.”
After some time, the magazine eventually added a disclaimer that outlined the content being created by a third party and that Sports Illustrated editorial staff were not involved in its creation. There was no explicit mention, however, of the third party being AI technology, which is ostensibly being used across different publications throughout The Arena Group’s portfolio such as theStreet and Men’s Journal.
“Along with basic principles of honesty, trust, journalistic ethics, etc., I take seriously the weight of a Sports Illustrated byline,” magazine staff writer Emma Baccellieri said in a post on X. “It meant something to me long before I ever dreamed of working here. This report was horrifying to read.”
In a statement from a spokesperson for The Arena Group, the company disclosed that it is not accurate based on an initial investigation. These articles in question were product reviews supplied by AdVon Commerce, whose e-commerce articles ran on certain websites under the ownership of the company.
“We continually monitor our partners and were in the midst of a review when these allegations were raised,” the statement read. “AdVon has assured us that all of the articles in questions were written and edited by humans.”
AdVon’s writers, editors and researchers create and curate content while following a policy that utilizes counter-plagiarism and counter-AI software. The Arena Group has ended the partnership after discovering that the company had its writers use contrived identities to protect the privacy of the authors, actions it claims to “strongly condemn.” An internal investigation is continuing looking into the matter.
Shannon Sharpe: Charles Barkley and Michael Strahan Showed Me I Can Do Media
“When I saw Charles Barkley could be himself, could talk with the dialect that he had, was unapologetically not afraid to make fun of himself, I said, ‘I could do that.’”
Shannon Sharpe has built a successful sports media career after his Hall of Fame NFL career. He said seeing Charles Barkley and Michael Strahan work on television gave him the green light.
“When I saw Charles Barkley could be himself, could talk with the dialect that he had, was unapologetically not afraid to make fun of himself, I said, ‘I could do that.’ I’ve got just as good as sense of humor, I could tell stories, I can do that,” Shannon Sharpe said.
“I see Michael Strahan on Good Morning America, I see Stephen A. doing what he’s doing, I said, ‘I could do that’ … I just wanted someone to give me the opportunity,” Sharpe continued. “Be prepared when the opportunity presents itself.”
Sharpe turned working for The NFL Today into a role with Skip Bayless on FS1’s Undisputed. He now appears frequently on First Take in addition to his podcast with Johnson for The Volume.
Nick Wright: Thanksgiving Food Hot Takes ‘The Worst Thing We in Sports Media Do’
“I think it is the most cliche, terrible content imaginable, so I won’t engage in it.”
Every year at Thanksgiving, sports talk radio shows discuss food selections around the holiday. It is safe to say FS1’s Nick Wright despises the discussions.
While appearing on The Mine Kimes Show featuring Lenny, Wright was asked by Kimes about for his opinions on the food.
“Do you have any takes about Thanksgiving food?,” Kimes asked.
“It would be a rude answer, but since you have asked it, I will give it. My hottest take about Thanksgiving foods is it is the worst thing we in sports media do,” retorted Wright. “It’s like ‘Hey, are you stuffing or dressing? Pumpkin or sweet potato? Are you more of the sides? You know what is an overrated meat? Turkey. Nobody wants turkey!’
“I think it is the most cliche, terrible content imaginable, so I won’t engage in it, Mina Kimes.”
“Wow. Your hottest take is that my question sucks,” Kimes replied. “From the LeBron guy? Really? Coming at me over topic selection.”
The video of the pair’s interaction was posted to X, formerly Twitter, after Wright specifically asked Kimes to release the clip. The discussion has garnered more than 400,000 as of this publication.