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Shannon Sharpe: We’re ‘Disney Unplugged’ on ESPN ‘First Take’

“We’re Disney Unplugged right now.”

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Shannon Sharpe
Courtesy: Richard Shotwell, Invision, The Associated Press

ESPN’s morning debate show First Take is coming off a week where it notched its most-watched episode of all-time, averaging 1.5 million viewers on the Monday following the Dallas Cowboys’ being eliminated from the playoffs. Featured commentator and executive producer Stephen A. Smith discussed the contest, along with the other NFL playoff games, and took revelry in the despair of Cowboys fans. Smith was joined by Shannon Sharpe, the analyst he compelled ESPN to sign upon his departure from Undisputed on FOX Sports 1, along with show host Molly Qerim. Throughout the week, various additional contributors appear on the air, including Dan Orlovsky, Marcus Spears, Kimberley A. Martin and Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo, all of whom have become part of the fabric of the show.

While First Take is centered on sports debate, there are frequent discussions that pertain to the commentators themselves, such as their clothing ensemble and other projects. In addition to appearing on First Take every Monday and Tuesday morning, Sharpe also hosts several podcasts with The Volume, the sports media company founded by FOX Sports 1 host Colin Cowherd. Whether it is on Club Shay Shay or Nightcap with Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, Sharpe has found a way to create compelling content that draws an audience. A recent interview he conducted with actor/comedian Katt Williams was viewed more than 32 million times on YouTube in its first four days and was recently portrayed on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

Smith revealed that he has been watching the skit every morning before First Take, with Qerim corroborating that he saw him doing so while in the makeup chair on Tuesday morning. Preceding that discussion, however, was Smith’s choice of verbiage to describe Patrick Mahomes if he wins the upcoming AFC Championship Game and sends the Kansas City Chiefs to the Super Bowl. Qerim subsequently banned Smith for using the terminology, conveying that she would activate an eject button if she had one at her disposal.

“This is Disney Unplugged, Molly,” Sharpe said on First Take‘s Tuesday show. “We’re Disney Unplugged; that’s what we are, Stephen A. We’re Disney Unplugged right now.”

“This isn’t you and Ochocinco late night,” Qerim replied. “This isn’t him on YouTube. Let’s keep it classy.”

After Smith exclaimed that he liked Sharpe’s idea for the show, he proceeded to call Nightcap a “big time” production and commended Sharpe and Johnson for their work on the program. With the growth of Sharpe’s podcasts in partnership with The Volume, First Take continues to experience success in the ratings, evidenced through its monthly gains in average viewership and its most-watched year with an average of 496,000 viewers per show.

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Jac Collinsworth Out as NBC Voice of Notre Dame Football

NBC will alternate between their new top team of Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge or Dan Hicks and Jason Garrett, depending on the game.

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Jac Collinsworth, Jason Garrett
Courtesy: NBC

According to Andrew Marchand of The Athletic, Jac Collinsworth will no longer serve as the play-by-play voice of Notre Dame football games for NBC. The younger Collinsworth, who graduated from Notre Dame in 2017, served as the lead voice for Fighting Irish football games on NBC for two years.

Marchand says that starting next season, NBC’s team of Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge will assume number one college football commentator duties. Internally, NBC execs enjoyed the duo’s calls of NFL and Big Ten football games and wanted to “reward” them with a larger stage. However, Marchand confirms that the pair will still call primetime Big Ten games but will be moved to the Notre Dame call if the network feels the Fighting Irish game of the week is a bigger draw.

Fans of Jason Garrett will be happy to know the former Cowboys coach will still be on the call for other Notre Dame games, now alongside longtime NBC voice Dan Hicks.

All is not lost for Collinsworth, though. Jac will still be part of the Football Night in America team and call college football games on Peacock. Collinsworth was also a voice for the network’s USFL coverage but that will no longer be an option following the league’s merger with the XFL.

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Craig Carton Doubles Down On Philadelphia Eagles Report After Adam Schefter Denial

“I texted someone in the organization yesterday, and the text I got back was, ‘None of that ‘S’ happened.’”

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Craig Carton and Adam Schefter
Caraig Carton Courtesy of FS1, Adam Schefter courtesy of ESPN

Craig Carton put out a mysterious report surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles that was shot down by prominent ESPN reporter Adam Schefter. Now, Carton, the current FS1 and former WFAN voice has doubled down on his story.

During the Feb. 20 episode of The Carton Show, Carton said that the Eagles’ collapse was due to, “a problem that would splinter any group of men. It is a real significant problem, and it can not be fixed,” but did not go into any sort of detail.

Schefter, ever the journalist, reached out to a source within the Eagles organization, who immediately denounced the story. During an appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic’s The John Kinkaid Show, Schefter said, “I texted someone in the organization yesterday, and the text I got back was, ‘None of that ‘S’ happened.’” Carton immediately started backpedaling via his X account.

Carton also spoke to The New York Post, telling the news outlet, “Considering I never said what the situation was, what exactly are the Eagles denying? I don’t know what the Eagles are denying. Just because the team is denying something and saying it didn’t happen, we should believe them?” The former WFAN host then accuses Schefter of contacting Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and again asks what was being denied because of Carton’s vague original report.

He then retweeted a post from JAKIB Sports reporter Derrick Gunn, saying that there was some internal strife within the Eagles last season. However, nothing Gunn reported seemingly matched the level of dysfunction that Carton speculated.

Today’s episode of The Carton Show also featured Eagles talk, echoing the same sentiments that Carton mentioned to The Post without offering much in the way of news.

Until Carton or another sports media member reveals exactly what went on behind the scenes, Eagles fans will just have to hope for a more positive season in 2024.

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ESPN Broadcast of Rangers-Islanders Stadium Series Game Is Its Most-Viewed NHL Regular Season Game Since 2021

The Stadium Series game between the Rangers and Islanders averaged 1.6 million viewers, the most for a regular season game since the league returned in 2021.

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The NHL on ESPN got a major win under its belt with news that the Sunday, Feb. 18 Stadium Series matchup between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders amassed about 1.6 million viewers, the most for a regular season game since the league returned to the Worldwide Leader in 2021. It was also the most-watched Stadium Series game overall since 2019. The Sunday night broadcast peaked at 2.38 million viewers, an increase of 31 percent vs. last year’s Stadium Series game.

Combined with the Saturday night tilt between the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers, both games averaged 1.37 million total viewers and 448,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic – both figures up 21 percent from last year’s Stadium Series game. Flyers/Devils averaged 1.13 million total viewers and 401,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic, which was flat and up 8 percent versus last year’s Stadium Series. The game’s audience peaked at 1.38 million viewers.

The NHL announced that 9.4 million people across the North American continent tuned into the 16 NHL games that took place across Saturday and Sunday.

Like most sports, NHL viewership has gone up this year — both locally and nationally. Local channel viewership figures are up three percent across the board, while NHL viewership on ESPN is up 40 percent compared to last year.

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