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Molly Qerim: I’ve Never Really Cared About Being the Star of First Take

“Sometimes with the show it feels sort of like First Take vs. everybody in terms of clickbait and certain things that garner a lot of attention.”

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For the last seven years, Molly Qerim has been hosting First Take on ESPN. While the show has gone through changes during that time, there is one thing that hasn’t changed and that is her desire to not be the star of the show.

Qerim was a guest on the Rise and Schein Podcast this week and she was asked by Schein how she balances being herself on the show and she said she doesn’t really care about being the star.

“I think one reason why it works is because Stephen A. is the star of the show. I’ve never really cared about that. I like being a part of a team. I think that’s why early on I kind of transitioned, there was some sideline opportunities that would have been pretty big for me and I decided to stay in studio.

“Obviously, when you are on the sidelines, you are also a part of a team. In terms of the rapport, hosting, and being on the desk, that’s my favorite part. Having fun with the guys, going back-and-forth, we all like to talk a lot of trash.”

Smith and Qerim have gone through many things together and she appreciates that the two of them share the same goal of making First Take the show that it is.

“Stephen A and I have such a great working relationship because we really respect each other. We’ve worked together for seven years, we’ve gone through a lot individually, personally, and a lot of the times sometimes with the show it feels sort of like First Take vs. everybody in terms of clickbait and certain things that garner a lot of attention. Right now, it’s just the two of us. I think there’s that mutual respect.

“Even though we will give each other so much crap at the end of the day, it’s the same team, common goal. In terms of him being the star, I’m not trying to be the star. I want to be a part of the team. I want to have fun, I want to do my job, and I hopefully want to do it well. I’m more worried about the show. That’s my focus. I think that’s why I was able to last in this role for a long time because I try not to have an ego in it.”

Qerim mentioned that it did take her a while to find her voice, but having a large family helped her be comfortable because she will act the same way on the show as she does around her family.

“Honestly, I’m just being myself. It’s the same kind of thing. I come from a big family. It’s just kind of me being me. When it’s like ‘Okay guys, reel it in’ that’s the same thing I would be saying at the dinner table. In a lot of ways, it feels very natural and it feels very organic. With that being said, it took a long time to find my voice I think to the level that I have now.”

The latest addition to First Take was having Chris “Mad Dog” Russo on Wednesdays and Qerim thought one question Russo asked her after a show was shocking.

“After the show, he was like ‘So what did you think? What could I do better?’ Wait, what just happened? That showed his humility and he really cared. He’s such great energy and it’s so much fun.

“If you ever watch him take notes during the show, it’s the strangest, weirdest things. It’s a beautiful mind. He’s been a great addition. I hope he’s here for a while.”

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‘Hard Knocks’ to Feature AFC North Division for In-Season Edition

“We are ecstatic to expand the ‘Hard Knocks’ universe with our partners at NFL Films to the always thrilling AFC North division race.”

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Hard Knocks AFC North
Courtesy: HBO, NFL Films

HBO and NFL Films have announced that Hard Knocks will spotlight the AFC North in its first in-season edition following an entire division. The 18-time Emmy Award-winning series will feature the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, documenting their journeys during the final six weeks of the NFL regular season and subsequent playoff run for the division champion and teams that qualify in the Wild Card.

Among the athletes within the series are quarterbacks Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson and Justin Fields, along with other stars such as Derrick Henry, Ja’Marr Chase, Myles Garrett and TJ Watt. This new iteration of the series will take the air on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 9 p.m. EST/PST on HBO and available to stream on Max. New episodes of the series will be available to watch on Tuesdays through the end of the NFL regular season and continue into the NFL Playoffs.

“Last season the AFC North became the first division ever to have all four teams finish with a winning record, making it the perfect place to launch this new approach to ‘Hard Knocks,’” Keith Cossrow, vice president and head of content for NFL Films, said in a statement. “We thank the Bengals, Browns, Ravens and Steelers for the opportunity to showcase some of the greatest rivalries in football and present the intensity of a playoff chase from all four corners of this incredibly competitive division.”

The Ravens were the first team featured on Hard Knocks when the training camp series first premiered in 2001. In the summer of 2009, the Bengals debuted on the program and reappeared in the 2013 edition as well. The Browns were on the show in 2018, while the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to be making the first appearance in the history of the organization. Last season, the Ravens won the division for the first time in four years after the Bengals had secured the division crown in the previous two seasons.

The in-season edition of Hard Knocks spanning an entire division officially renders the series into a venture with coverage of all facets of the NFL season – the offseason, training camp, regular season and the playoffs. HBO and NFL Films announced last month that the New York Giants would be part of the new offseason edition of the show debuting on Tuesday, July 2. Following the conclusion of that series, the training camp edition of the show will return with the Chicago Bears premiering on Tuesday, Aug. 6.

“We are ecstatic to expand the ‘Hard Knocks’ universe with our partners at NFL Films to the always thrilling AFC North division race,” Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller, co-executive vice presidents of documentary and family programming at HBO, along with Bentley Weiner, vice president of sports documentaries at HBO, said in a statement. “In 2024, ‘Hard Knocks’ will feature the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the Chicago Bears. What a year it will be on HBO and Max for football fans everywhere.”

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NHL Stanley Cup Final Game 4 Averages 3.1 Million Viewers on ESPN Networks

Through its first four games, the Stanley Cup Final is averaging 3.3 million total viewers, which is up 11% from last year’s matchup.

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ESPN on ABC
Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company

The Stanley Cup Final has extended to another game after the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Florida Panthers on Saturday night to attain its first win of the series. While Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Stuart Skinner seek to keep the Oilers’ season alive on Tuesday night, the Panthers aim to close out the first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history. The Panthers, however, will need to overcome giving up eight unanswered goals to the Oilers in Game 4 in order to achieve that task.

The Game 4 win-or-go-home matchup averaged 3.1 million viewers on ABC, according to Nielsen Media Research, which is up 20% from the comparable game last year. ESPN’s broadcast of the Stanley Cup Final on ABC peaked at 3.52 million viewers and attained a 1.4 rating, the latter of which is up 15% from last year’s Stanley Cup Final Game 4 between the Florida Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights televised on TNT, TBS and truTV.

Although the game elicited year-over-year gains, viewership is down 33% from the last Stanley Cup Final Game 4 on ABC, which was a matchup between the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning in 2022. Moreover, the rating declined by a full share from the 2.4 share the matchup garnered last year. The fourth game of this year’s series is down from Game 2, which averaged 3.56 million viewers with a 1.9 rating, along with the 3.35 million viewers and 1.8 rating for the third game, according to Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch.

Through its first four games, the Stanley Cup Final is averaging 3.3 million total viewers, which is up 11% from last year’s matchup in this regard. An average of 1.2 million viewers within the Persons 18-49 demographic are watching the Stanley Cup Final, a 25% year-over-year increase as well. Viewers within the Persons 18-49 demographic equated to an average of 1.1 million for Game 4, representative of a 20% year-over-year increase.

The Stanley Cup Finals on ESPN platforms have averaged 1.6 million total viewers and 633,000 viewers within the Persons 18-49 demographic, a year-over-year increase of 38% and 28% in those categories, respectively. The Walt Disney Company (ESPN/ABC) is nearing the conclusion of its third season of NHL broadcasts since reacquiring broadcast rights to the league and will have four more seasons to go on its current seven-year media rights deal.

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Tom Brady Makes FOX Sports Broadcast Booth Debut

“I can’t go down there on the field anymore, what are you talking about?”

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Screengrab from the UFL Championship game on FOX with Curt Menefee, Tom Brady and Joel Klatt
Screengrab: UFL Championship Game on FOX

If Spring Football gave us anything, it gave us this. Let the record show that the first time Tom Brady analyzed a pro football game from a broadcasting booth as an employee of FOX Sports, it was with teams from Birmingham and San Antonio, with the game being played in St. Louis.

That may someday be a trivia question hardly anyone will be able to answer. For now, it just marks the debut of Brady’s time as a football analyst as part of his 10-year $375 million deal he signed with FOX. Brady was not officially on the call of the UFL Championship game, but he did join play-by-play man Curt Menefee and analyst Joel Klatt in the second quarter on Sunday when the Birmingham Stallions beat the San Antonio Brahmas 25-0 at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis

“We bring in a little instant offense,” Menefee said. “You know him, you love him. Tom Brady, legendary quarterback, just had his number retired.”

“I can’t go down there on the field anymore, what are you talking about?” Brady quipped.

“He is joining us here at FOX sports as I am sure you have heard as an analyst this fall, can’t wait to see him,” Menefee said before asking Brady for his take on what he had seen in the UFL game. “So far, what are your impressions in this early going Championship game, sometimes teams can be a little bit tight, it looks like it may be right here.”

“They’re all a little different when you get into these games,” Brady said. “There’s a lot of defense out there right now. You see the defense out there playing with a lot of energy but someone’s gotta get the ball down the field and try and open this field up a little bit. It’s a lot of horizontal passes and the defense is swarming and trying to punch the ball out. ‘Make them defend every blade of grass,’ that’s what we used to say.’

At the conclusion of the game, Brady was on the field to present the championship game MVP award which went to Birmingham quarterback Adrian Martinez who played for both Nebraska and Kansas State and was the league’s regular season MVP.

Brady is set to work with Kevin Burkhardt this fall on the FOX No. 1 broadcast team. The pair will call the top game for FOX each week starting with the September 8 game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Cleveland Browns.

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