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Dan Le Batard: Norby Williamson is the ‘Shadow President’ of ESPN

“In general, this is not a bug, this is a feature. This is how you keep people controlled when you don’t want your talent misbehaving.”

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Dan Le Batard
Courtesy: Meadowlark Media

Pat McAfee on Monday stood behind his comments last week calling out ESPN executive Norby Williamson, and Dan Le Batard thought it was interesting Pat would take on one in such a high position of power at the network.

On The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on Monday, Le Batard referred to Williamson as the shadow president of the network.

“The guy who runs, the shadow president, this isn’t just a Vice President,” Le Batard said. “This is the guy who’s run on the wrong side of Stuart Scott and Dan Patrick, and in general this is not a bug, this is a feature. This is how you keep people controlled when you don’t want your talent misbehaving. And your talent can be disposable, and you want the letters to matter more than anything else.

“The way that it has worked in my experience, I wasn’t there the whole time, is that the real power at ESPN resides with the CEO,” he continued. “Skipper, Shapiro before that, Pitaro now. The guy dealing with the billion-dollar deals is the real power, and then there’s a gulf of difference between executive number one and executive number two, where the second executive is just keeping the trains on the tracks because they’ve got a lot of channels – a lot of content – and if you could do that without headlines, you have succeeded. And Norby Williamson has succeeded for many years protecting SportsCenter, protecting the brand.”

Dan Le Batard felt as if Williamson and others in positions of power, not Bob Iger, Burke Magnus, or Pitaro, as well as others at ESPN who control power, have been usurped by the agreement struck to bring McAfee and his show to the network.

Because McAfee has been licensed to ESPN, not hired by ESPN like all the other talent on the network, Pat doesn’t have to play by the same rules as others.

“Once you’ve given that person unprecedented power, I think all of us can say given that he took a pay cut to be there – tore up a deal like ours with DraftKings in order to take less money in exchange for the reach of ESPN so that they could rent Pat McAfee’s voice,” he said. “Why does he have to respect their constructs? He does not have to respect their constructs, and I think that’s where you get into a difficult spot where the producers aren’t gonna actually be able to control him.”

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Sports Online

Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit Featured As Commentary Team for ‘NCAA Football 25’

“I’m so excited to FINALLY announce that I’m part of @EASPORTSCollege
. I’m proud to be a partner and one of the voices of the game once again.”

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An image of Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler
Courtesy: Sports Illustrated

NCAA Football fans rejoice — NCAA Football 25 will feature ESPN’s Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit. Fowler will be making his first appearance in the game while Herbstreit will be doing it for the 14th time. The pair confirmed the news today via their X accounts:

The pair were finally able to reveal their involvement as more news came out about the game starting today. Multiple news items about the game were reported, including the participation of all 134 Division I football programs, and that college football players could opt into the game for NIL purposes. According to The Athletic’s Chris Vannini, players will receive $600 and a free copy of the game for opting in. Those who fail to opt in will be replaced by a generic avatar.

The last NCAA Football game was released in 2013 and started the conversation of whether players should be paid for their participation. EA Sports then stopped putting out versions of the game, despite critical and commercial success. Fan projects like College Football Revamped strived to bring the game into modern times — but now it’s no longer needed. College Football 25 will be revealed in earnest this May, with a release date slated for the summer.

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Joy Taylor and Taylor Rooks to Launch New Podcast

“This show is a space for us to be honest about our experiences, our emotions, and the way we view the world.”

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Joy Taylor and Taylor Rooks podcast logo
Courtesy: Two Personal Podcast

Fox Sports 1’s Joy Taylor and Thursday Night Football’s Taylor Rooks are teaming up for a new podcast, Two Personal, which will debut on March 6. The description of the new content says it will take on subjects beyond the world of sports such as mental health, discrmination and other social issues. The two friends plan to share things they would normally talk about only in private.

“Joy [Taylor] and I have navigated our careers together as sisters in sport, but Two Personal allows us to expand and share our private thoughts and conversations with our listeners,” said Rooks. “This show is a space for us to be honest about our experiences, our emotions, and the way we view the world. There is infinitely more to us than what we have allowed the public to see, and I’m thrilled to be in a place where I feel ready to bare my full self and give an honest look into who I am completely.”

“I am so excited to launch Two Personal with Taylor [Rooks]” Joy Taylor said. “We have spent our careers in sports and now have created an opportunity to show a different side of ourselves. The authentic, raw and exposing side of our experiences and personalities outside of sports. We can’t wait to bring our girl talk to the world!”

The podcast is scheduled to drop a new episode each Wednesday on YouTube and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Report: Amazon Prime Video Paying $120M to Stream NFL Playoff Game

NBCU wanted to keep the game, however, the report says Amazon has a clause in its agreement for ‘Thursday Night Football’ which allows it to have first choice.

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The Wall Street Journal is reporting Amazon and the NFL have reached agreement on a $120 million deal for Prime Video to have exclusive rights to stream an NFL playoff game at the end of the 2024 season.

Amazon had passed on the opportunity to air the game this past season. It subsequently aired on Peacock in a deal which was valued at $110 million. The AFC Wild Card round matchup between the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs made sports media history, garnering an average minute audience (AMA) of 23.0 million viewers, making the contest the most-streamed live event in the history of the United States.

NBCUniversal also revealed that the contest reached 27.6 million total viewers and peaked at an average of 24.6 million viewers during the second quarter. Engagement with the playoff game accounted for the largest internet event in history with 30% of internet traffic prioritizing the game at this time.

NBCU wanted to keep the game, however, the report says Amazon has a clause in its agreement for ‘Thursday Night Football’ which allows it to have first choice.

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