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Pat McAfee to Brett Favre: ‘I’ll See You In Court, Pal’

“So let’s ride this f—er. I’m excited to see how it goes.”

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Pat McAfee

Brett Favre has filed a defamation lawsuit against media personalities Pat McAfee and Shannon Sharpe for their characterizations of Favre’s Mississippi welfare scandal. Friday, McAfee responded.

“I’m getting sued by Brett Favre,” McAfee said from Radio Row to open his Friday show. “I’m getting sued alongside Shannon Sharpe and an auditor from Mississippi by Brett f—ing Favre. Brett Favre’s suing me in a defamation lawsuit, saying I defamed his name to try to earn a profit.”

The former Indianapolis Colts punter then explained he received a letter from Favre’s legal team asking him to remove any video that mentioned the former Packers quarterback from his digital library.

“So I looked at that and said, ‘that is hilarious!’ Of course, we’re not doing that,” McAfee said.

“Then a few days later ‘You have until Wednesday — this Super Bowl week — 8:30 PM ET to issue a public apology to Brett Favre and also to erase all of the video in your catalog that involves Brett Favre’s name.’”

McAfee hasn’t been shy in his criticism of Favre, going as far as to say he would mention the scandal every time the Pro Football Hall of Famer’s name was mentioned.

Favre is accused of influencing Mississippi government officials to misuse state welfare funds to bankroll a new volleyball arena at the University of Southern Mississippi. A USM alum himself, Favre’s daughter was enrolled at the University and a member of the school’s volleyball team at the time of the alleged impropriety.

The Pat McAfee Show host said he won’t back down and will continue to proclaim his innocence in the matter.

“A lot of people are wondering how my lawyers are gonna handle this,” concluded McAfee. “You know it, I ain’t got ‘em. So let’s ride this f—er. I’m excited to see how it goes. I’ll see you in court, pal.”

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Endeavor Partners With TNA Wrestling to Launch Streaming Service

“We are proud to partner with Endeavor Streaming on this initiative, and we look forward to continuing to provide our fans with the absolute best in new, classic and exclusive professional wrestling content…”

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A photo of the TNA+ logo

TNA Wrestling has announced it has entered into a new deal with Endeavor to launch a streaming service.

While previously utilizing the Impact Wrestling brand, Anthem Sports & Entertainment has revived the TNA Wrestling brand as part of a relaunch ahead of the new streaming service which will debut on Friday, January 5th.

“This is truly an incredible opportunity for us as we forge into an exciting new chapter of the TNA legacy,” said TNA Wrestling President Scott D’Amore. “We are proud to partner with Endeavor Streaming on this initiative, and we look forward to continuing to provide our fans with the absolute best in new, classic and exclusive professional wrestling content, available to them anywhere, anytime, on their favorite devices, when TNA+ launches on January 5.”

“Wrestling fans are some of the most passionate in the world of sports and entertainment and TNA+ is the perfect ‘always-on’ personalized OTT service to help TNA build a deeper relationship with its global audience,” added Endeavor CCO Pete Bellamy. “We’re looking forward to working with TNA to deliver the best streaming experience for wrestling fans.”

Price points are $9.99 per month or $95.99 per year for subscribers. An additional tier is available for $219.99 per year which will include the four “tent-pole” pay-per-view events.

The announcement comes as a bit of a surprise in the wrestling world. Impact Wrestling previously held partnerships with the AEW and New Japan wrestling promotions. Meanwhile, Endeavor recently completed its merger of WWE and UFC in a more than $20 billion deal.

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Dianna Russini: Joining The Athletic ‘Hardest Thing I’ve Done in My Life’

“Writing is really challenging, but really rewarding as well. I’m really happy. I love what I’m doing now.”

Ricky Keeler

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Dianna Russini
Courtesy: Joe Faraoni, ESPN Images

If you are looking for the NFL reporter who has the most headline-worthy stories this week, look no further than Dianna Russini of The Athletic.

Russini had the story about how the Carolina Panthers team culture resembles The Hunger Games written with Joseph Person and the one where Zach Wilson was reportedly reluctant to play for the New York Jets again as their quarterback written with Zack Rosenblatt and Jeff Howe.

Russini was a guest on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on Friday and she said that despite some of the backlash she might get from fans from the teams she reports on, she hopes the credibility she has built up with past stories will allow people to trust she is reporting the truth. 

“When you have been doing this a long time and become a credible person covering the league, you hope that because of all the past stories you’ve done, you’ve built this trust with the audience and with the fans. What I realized over the last few days is it’s not that they don’t believe the report is accurate. They know the report is accurate, the story is just unbelievable.”

During this week, Dianna Russini mentioned that she has heard from Jets fans when she drops her kids off at daycare and hasn’t heard many great things. At the same time, even though some try to discredit her reports, she is not trying to pile on people’s misfortunes, but instead report the facts. 

“Unfortunately, it’s just my job to uncover the story and uncover the news. When the number two pick doesn’t want to play or is hesitant or reluctant, whatever word the Jets are comfortable with the world knowing about at this point, that’s a story to me. I feel bad for Zach. I’m not this cold, mean witch that wants to piss on the Jets organization, but this is a story.”

“People just want to blame someone and I understand it,” Russini continued. “At the end of the day, if I was a fan and there were reporters covering a team and being able to share everything that’s happening and giving you the truth, I would appreciate it.”

“The best part about reporting the truth is you are actually indifferent about it. I’m working on two other stories now. I’ve moved past it because I stand by my reporting on it.”

Since joining The Athletic three months ago, Dianna Russini said it has been the hardest thing in her career, but she is enjoying the reward of the hard work that she is putting into her writing. 

“The Athletic has been tremendous. No one told me it would be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Writing is really challenging, but really rewarding as well. I’m really happy. I love what I’m doing now. It took me 40 years to be able to really feel that and say that and express it. It’s really been a great three months already at The Athletic.” 

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Dan Le Batard on Sports Betting and Journalism: ‘We’re All in This Changing Game’

“…the integrity of the results have to be something you trust.”

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Dan Le Batard
Courtesy: Jason Koerner, Getty Images

As sports betting continues to assimilate itself into the sports media space, questions surrounding the ethics around gambling for media professionals are continuing to be asked. League insiders such as Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania and Adam Schefter are privy to information before it is released to the public, wherefore their decisions would not be seen as objective per se; that is, according to on-air host Dan Le Batard.

On Thursday’s edition of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, Le Batard began a discussion about the relationship between gambling and journalism. As a former member of ESPN, Le Batard has seen the launch of ESPN BET, a company-branded betting platform being operated by PENN Entertainment in 17 different states around the country.

Mandating that a large swath of people cannot bet on sporting events can be difficult to enforce because some people are more apt to break rules and engage in the practices regardless. For example, news of LeBron James’ business manager, Maverick Carter, admitting to using an illegal bookie to bet on basketball and football games in a federal investigation in 2021 was reported last week by The Washington Post.

“The integrity of the results – even though we’re talking about the refs every day and they have a disproportionate impact on the games – the integrity of the results have to be something you trust,” Dan Le Batard said. “Ultimately – and this is weird for gambling to have been in the shadows and illegal and shamed for a long time – you have to trust that nobody has insider information that’s illegal to have gathered, and so you have to spread a blanket around a lot of employees.”

Jeremy Tache added to the conversation, saying that an interesting aspect related to the entire ordeal is how Wojnarowski and Charania do not share social media posts affirming that a player is about to be selected in the NBA Draft. Instead, they use more vague, ambiguous language that implies that the pick is likely, but far from a guarantee.

Charania moved betting lines last year when he posted on Twitter that Scoot Henderson was “gaining serious momentum” at No. 2 with the Charlotte Hornets in the NBA Draft. In the end, the Hornets drafted Brandon Miller, allowing the Portland Trail Blazers to take Henderson third overall. “FanDuel is not privy to any news that Shams breaks on his platforms,” the company said in a statement to Action Network after backlash.

“That ultimately can heavily influence the way that people are gambling because the lines don’t change instantly on who’s going to go to what time,” Tache said. “That’s the stuff where we saw ESPN sort of institute, ‘Hey Woj, you can’t tweet out draft picks before they’re actually made,’ but I wonder how much that actually had to do with gambling more so than even spoiling the draft for people.”

The reason Le Batard started the conversation was because of Meadowlark Media’s content and distribution deal with DraftKings Network. Matt Barnes’ and Stephen Jackson’s All The Smoke Productions recently inked a contract with the two entities as well, bringing their popular podcast, All The Smoke, and other programming to the platform. Le Batard’s program is also now available to watch using the new Bleacher Report Sports Add-On through Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max streaming service.

“There are so many impeachments on integrity that can come from so many angles,” Le Batard said. “Never mind just referees; it’s everybody now. We’re all in this changing game [where] something that has been stigmatized is now legalized, and we all play by a set of rules that are different for me [and] that are different for you.”

Mike Ryan Ruiz, producer of the program, argued that regulation pertaining to sports gambling is a good thing, conveying how several leagues themselves have demarcated the behavior. The NFL has issued suspensions to players for gambling, along with college football – perhaps most noticeably surrounding the Iowa and Iowa State sports betting scandal. The action of wagering on games has seamlessly assimilated into a penchant for sports fans, and more advertising and convenience projects the industry to further boost these companies.

Determining how to keep the objectivity of journalism and subjectivity of wagering disparate is an ostensible reason why employees at media outlets are limited in these practices. Moreover, Dan Le Batard insinuated that an athlete could do a friend favors by prioritizing how they play for monetary gain, something Ruiz pointed out has been happening all over Europe and that the sports world is dealing with.

“Yes, it’s more accessible now, but gambling scandals are as old as sports are – be it Black Sox; be it Pete Rose,” Ruiz said. “This is something that sports have always had to navigate, and it’s actually easier now with their league partners playing ball with them.”

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