Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo has turned heads lately in his First Take appearance, specifically through his “What Are You Mad About?” segment where he waxes poetic on various topics that agitate him. It was during a usual sit-down conversation though that produced a viral segment when he intricately outlined his Saturday plans with his wife being out of town.
Throughout his monologue, Russo insinuated the use of THC gummies, stating that he will have half at 12 p.m. and the other half at 3:25 p.m. in order to watch the college football games. The fact that Russo was allowed to divulge details of such, along with the fact that he is betting $10,000 on ESPN, a network owned by The Walt Disney Company, surprised Le Batard, one of its former employees.
“He’s had a rejuvenation – a radiant rejuvenation,” Dan Le Batard said on Thursday’s edition of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. “He did something yesterday that I’ve never seen, [and] on Disney television – on Disney television!… I have never seen a media member just say, ‘Yep, drinking, drugs and gambling – that’s my Saturday,’ and I’m jealous of him. I want that to be my Saturday.”
Mike Ryan Ruiz, the executive producer of the program, chimed in on the situation and reminded Le Batard that Russo went to many Grateful Dead concerts. In response, Le Batard referred to it as “circumstantial evidence” that did not directly support Mad Dog’s drug use.
“Yes, his performance showed that he had short-circuited and fried all of his brain cells in a way that was obvious, but he wasn’t saying out loud, ‘You know what I’m doing during my sports analysis consumption time? I’m going to come on next week and talk about Colorado, and I’m telling you right now, I was high while I was watching,’” Le Batard said. “Not usually part of the commentary.”
Le Batard referenced former NFL running back Ricky Williams, who smoked marijuana on the night before games and tested positive for the drug three times. The reason he brought him up was to assert that he thinks Russo would have been one of the most likely people to defame Williams’ character.
“[He is] one of the guys most likely to rip him as a character assassination for daring to do marijuana that all of it would get so normalized that my media member who’s on ESPN representing old-timey media [who] can’t shut up about Bob Cousy – that guy is out there saying, ‘Yeah, I’m doing drugs on a Saturday,’” Le Batard expressed.
Le Batard acknowledged his incredulity towards Russo betting $10,000 on a college football game, but understands that he has been successful throughout the years with his time on WFAN, SiriusXM and MLB Network. The style of sports television that has pervaded the airwaves in recent years lends personalities the ability to frolic in palaver and enjoy themselves, a stark contrast from when Le Batard was with the “Worldwide Leader.”
“What I see happening all over television now – sports television – [is that] there are so many people dancing and laughing and having a good time on sports television, genuinely enjoying themselves,” Le Batard said. “It used to be starched and stiff, and now I am watching.”
In a recent conversation with Stephen A. Smith on his podcast, The Stephen A. Smith Show, the First Take featured commentator called Le Batard “sanctimonious.” Reflecting back on the conversation, Le Batard agrees with him because he does not seek broad appeal and adheres to the principles and platforms he views as righteous and worthwhile.
Earlier this week, Le Batard revealed that he declined an interview with Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill when he was informed that he could not ask him about off-field issues. Although Russo is one of the most accomplished sports radio personalities of all time, Le Batard is not sure what to think about these types of situations and a new style of sports talk taking the airwaves.
“He has made a lot of money in this industry being a caricature of a sports media personality,” Le Batard said of Russo. “Skip Bayless – before Skip Bayless, man, that dude invented argument television. That started with [Mike] Francesa and Russo on the radio, and it infected everything in the coverage of newspapers, fandom [and] sports television.”
Dave Portnoy Found Out About The CW, Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl Partnership on X
Portnoy reposted the company’s announcement that it had secured a distribution deal with The CW by saying “Love finding out about this in a tweet.”
Earlier today, it was announced that Barstool Sports had partnered with The CW to broadcast the 2023 Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl. However, it appears no one told the company’s founder, Dave Portnoy.
Portnoy reposted the announcement that it had secured a distribution deal to bring the bowl game to terrestrial television with The CW. He accompanied the post by saying “Love finding out about this in a tweet.”
The bowl game’s official X account wrote it was “thrilled to be able to bring the most cutting edge postseason experience to college football fans across the nation.”
Barstool Sports play-by-play voice Jake Marsh shared his enthusiasm for the partnership by calling it “huge news”.
NSMA Names Finalists for 2023 National Awards
Winners will be invited to the 64th NSMA Awards Weekend & National Convention in June or July 2024.
The National Sports Media Association (NSMA) on Wednesday announced its finalists for 2023 national awards.
The national sportswriter of the year finalists are: Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN; Dan Wetzel of Yahoo; Dana O’Neil of The Athletic; Jeff Passan of ESPN; Marc J. Spears of Andscape and ESPN; Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic; Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated; Peter King of NBC Sports; Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post, and Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated.
The national Sportscaster of the Year finalists are: Brian Anderson of CBS/TBS/TNT; Charles Barkley of TNT/TBS; Doris Burke of ABC/ESPN; Jim Nantz of CBS; Joe Buck of ESPN; Joe Davis of FOX; Kevin Harlan of CBS/TNT/TBS/Westwood One; Mike Breen of ABC/ESPN; Mike Tirico of NBC, and Sean McDonough of ABC/ESPN.
The Hall of Fame Sportswriter finalists are: Christine Brennan, Claire Smith, Howard Bryant, Ira Berkow, Jayson Stark, Mike Downey, Ralph Wiley, Ray Didinger, Roger Kahn, and Wendell Smith.
The Hall of Fame sportscaster finalists are: Andrea Kremer, Charlie Neal, Don Criqui, Jaime Jarrin, James Brown, Joe Buck, Mary Carillo, Mike Tirico, Phyllis George, and Tim McCarver.
Winners will be invited to the 64th NSMA Awards Weekend & National Convention next summer.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional 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, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Kirk Herbstreit: Social Media Still Critical of Al Michaels Because of Last Year’s Comments
“He hears the noise. He has more of an ‘F you’ attitude about it than ‘I am going to show them’.”
The narrative going around social media is that legendary broadcaster Al Michaels doesn’t have too much excitement when he calls a Thursday Night Football game on Amazon Prime with Kirk Herbstreit. However, in Herbstreit’s mind, that is nowhere near the truth.
Herbstreit was a guest on the Pardon My Take podcast this week and he said that he thinks a lot of people are holding two games from last year against Michaels. One was the Chargers-Jaguars Wild Card playoff game and the other was the Colts-Broncos matchup that was a 12-9 overtime game.
“I think everyone is holding the Jacksonville playoff game last year against him. I didn’t work with him in that game and it got a lot of criticism after that game.”
“Social media is using that as a narrative and they are just using that and the one time in Indy/Denver he talked about how what a shitty game it was we were doing. It is almost like they are using those two examples to say ‘Al Michaels hates Thursday night, Al Michaels has lost it.'”
One comparison he gave for both he and Michaels is that while Thursday night games have strong atmospheres, they don’t compare to when Michaels used to call Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football or when Herbstreit does a big Saturday Night game for college football.
“We’ve had a great schedule this year. We’ve had some great games. If you listen to me calling Florida State/Florida or to me this weekend, I’m standing the whole game, Chris Fowler is standing the whole game. There’s energy that is unparalleled in these college atmospheres. You get caught up in the moment you are performing in.”
“I think Al when he would do Sunday Night or Monday Night Football, those games were massive. You are doing big games and your voice projects based on the setting that you are in. These Thursday night games are good atmospheres, but I don’t think they are at the level of a Sunday night game or when I’m doing a Saturday night game. So, I think your voice always matches with what you are doing.”
Herbstreit has been with Michaels for the last two seasons and there is one thing that he is impressed by about him and he feels that both of them are similar in terms of how much excitement they bring with the situation warrants it.
“I’ve noticed that Al Michaels is pretty much like me. When the game warrants excitement, he brings excitement…I think Al hears it, he disagrees with it. He’s really enjoying our crew and what we are doing. To be at his age and I marvel at what he does. Producers talking in his ear, he’s always recognizing and ID’ing typically the right guy every time. At his age, I’m blown away by it.”
“He hears the noise. He has more of an ‘F you’ attitude about it than ‘I am going to show them’. He thinks it’s a bunch of bullshit, I think it’s a bunch of bullshit. I think it’s a narrative that social media is running with.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at [email protected].