Is it a war of words or just a back and forth between Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless? It depends on who you ask, but the origins of First Take have been much discussed this week.
On Friday morning, Toucher & Rich weighed in on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston and clearly do not think the battle is worth taking seriously.
Rich Shirtenlieb revealed to the audience that he and Fred Toucher have met Smith before and think “he is a great guy.”
That didn’t mean the duo were holding anything back.
Fred Toucher said that Stephen A. Smith knew what he was doing by mentioning that the 2 Live Stews were regulars on First Take in its early days.
Toucher was in Atlanta when that show aired on 790 The Zone and said it benefitted from one positive article. In reality, it was hard to listen to.
“They were the biggest nerds and they just screamed in nerd slang,” he said, indicating that Smith did mean to imply that First Take was worse off before he joined.
The entire T&R cast mocked Skip Bayless’s retort. His exasperated sighs were mimicked and Bayless saying “Let me gather myself” became an instant drop.
Ultimately, the battle is meaningless according to Toucher & Rich. Fred Toucher said that both men’s opinions rest on overstating the importance of First Take to ESPN.
“Okay so, they really had that intense pressure,” he said before impersonating an ESPN executive. “‘It’s ten in the morning. What are we gonna put on the air? The whole network is riding on this!’”
According to Toucher & Rich, when ESPN was deciding what to do with First Take’s time slot, their other options were likely Greco-Roman Wrestling or a Flex Seal commercial.
Seth Payne: Ross Tucker is Stealing My Takes Without Attribution
“He is the manager that takes your ideas and then sends them up one level without any attribution whatsoever.”
Seth Payne cannot say he wasn’t warned. When Ross Tucker joined Payne and Pendergast on Sports Radio 610 in Houston earlier this week, the seven-year NFL veteran told Payne that his take was so good that he would be stealing it.
“You know what, Seth, that is a great point that I am going to use the rest of the week in all my media stuff,” Tucker said when Payne suggested that the Philadelphia Eagles “earned” an injury to the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterbacks by taking advantage of poor blocking schemes that included using tight ends to block NFL sack leader Hasson Reddick.
A listener named Burch tweeted evidence to Seth Payne of Ross Tucker following through on his promise.
“If the rest of you out there can be more like Burch and let us know when people are stealing our good takes, they can have our bad takes,” Payne’s morning show partner Sean Pendergast said on Tuesday morning.
The duo then played the audio, which they said appeared to come from an unidentified CBS show. In it, Tucker says that the Eagles “earned those injuries” and used tight ends being assigned to block Reddick as his justification for the take.
“I think it’s pretty obvious what kind of a boss Ross Tucker is, like what kind of a manager,” Payne said. “He is the manager that takes your ideas and then sends them up one level without any attribution whatsoever.”
Ross Tucker is no shortage of platforms to spread the take around. He is on multiple Audacy sports talk stations during the football season. He also makes regular appearances with Dan Patrick and SiriusXM as well as hosting his own podcast.
“This is what you get from these Princeton types,” Payne said of being ripped off. “This is how they get where they are in the world.”
Mully & Haugh: Mike Florio Had Perfect Response About NFL Games Being Fixed
There were questionable calls — both made and not — that played into the eventual outcome of the AFC Championship Game. Cynics have pointed to the officiating in the game’s final quarter as proof that NFL games are fixed. On 670 The Score, Mully & Haugh praised Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio for his response to those accusations.
“I always assume it’s incompetence and not corruption,” Florio said when asked about whether or not the league purposely got the matchup it desired. “The NFL does not rig its games. I will say that loudly, and I will say that clearly. Sometimes I will add ‘because I don’t think the NFL would be sufficiently competent to rig its games if it wanted to. That’s why I think they don’t even try.”
Florio then added that being lied to all the time doesn’t mean you’re being lied to all the time, adding that the NFL does need to be proactive against games being fixed, rigged, or altered after the expansion of legalized gambling.
Later in the program, Mulligan and Haugh returned to the discussion about whether or not a conspiracy was at play when Mulligan levied his praise for the Pro Football Talk founder.
“I thought Mike Florio handled that very well,” Mike Mulligan said. “They’re too incompetent to have a conspiracy. It’s true!”
When asked about whether the NFL would actually want to alter the outcome to pit the Chiefs against the Eagles, Haugh said it’s just not realistic.
“That’s a leap you can’t make. It’s not logical. It’s logical to think the referees stink and their incompetent,” David Haugh said. “They have proof of that. To me, it’s a bridge too far to say they wanted a certain team to win because it makes a better matchup or its better for the league. That, to me, makes no sense and is based on no fact at all.”
Evan Roberts: Tony Romo Is Trying To Make Every Game Historically Significant
“He’s in the end zone and immediately Tony Romo instead of talking about the throw, the play, goes into a soliloquy about Michael Jordan.”
CBS Sports NFL analyst Tony Romo drew some criticism on social media on Sunday during coverage of the AFC championship game.
Romo caught heat for the second straight week trying to make comparisons of the quarterbacks in the NFL games he’s covering to the likes of Michael Jordan.
On Carton & Roberts on WFAN on Monday, host Craig Carton said he thought it was interesting how the perception of Romo has shifted a little bit recently.
“People are really down on him now,” Carton said. “Like he was all hot to trot, and now people think he’s not.”
Roberts said trying to compare Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow to Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler was quite a stretch.
“He’s in the end zone and immediately Tony Romo instead of talking about the throw, the play, goes into a soliloquy about Michael Jordan,” Roberts said. “I didn’t think the timing of that made any sense. It’s like what are we doing?”
That was precisely the reaction many had to Romo’s third quarter comments. Evan went on to say even with the comparison not really making sense, it was just the completely wrong point in the broadcast to bring something like that up.
“In the middle of a game – that doesn’t end the game – it’s a touchdown to put them up seven mid-third quarter – should not be moment where Tony Romo is pontificating about where this ranks in sports history. It was out of place,” Roberts said.
“Can we find an NFL reference? Is that possible?” Carton responded.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.