Bill Simmons’ shocking and sudden public dismissal from ESPN was indeed shocking, but not all that sudden, according to the most plugged-in man at Bristol.
James Andrew Miller, the co-author of the oral history of ESPN, “Those Guys Have All the Fun,” wrote the inside story about the billowing feud between the Worldwide Leader and its biggest star in a piece for Vanity Fair.
While ESPN president John Skipper told the New York Times on Friday that Simmons’ contract would not be renewed when it expires later this year, the drama had been building for quite some time between the Grantland front man and a network increasingly frustrated with his perceived entitlement. Simmons’ free-wheeling nature — a blessing and a curse, as it turned out — catapulted him from everyman Boston blogger to perhaps the most read sports columnist of all time, but also ended up costing him allies in Bristol and a job that pays around $5 million per year.
The first step in the Sports Guy’s fall was losing a supporter in Skipper. The man who worked with Simmons to strike a deal in 2010 was soon named network president and had bigger issues to worry about. Without Skipper at the ready, Simmons’ ESPN enemies seemed to multiply, believing the co-creator of the “30 for 30″ documentary series “operated as if certain rules simply did not apply to him,” Miller writes.
Then came the much-talked-about suspension. Concerning the Ray Rice tape, Simmons called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a “liar” on his wildly popular “B.S. Report” podcast, which resulted in two weeks banishment without pay. The money wasn’t initially withheld, however, leading Simmons to believe ESPN was giving a peace offering — until a Dec. 19 paycheck lacked two weeks’ pay, which set Simmons off.
A tired network and angry Simmons then had to deal with contract negotiations, which weren’t quite negotiated. Simmons refused to offer any specific monetary number to prevent ESPN from saying it couldn’t meet his demands, according to Miller, while ESPN largely remained silent until Friday.
“I decided today that we are not going to renew Bill Simmons’ contract,” Skipper said.
So what happens now? ESPN still owns “30 for 30,” Grantland and, oddly, the B.S. Report. In a bizarre detail, Miller noted a network executive was heard pondering who would replace Simmons on his titular podcast. (Is Simmons the latest candidate for the Ewing Theory?)
Simmons likely will end up somewhere he can speak his mind. He had grown tired of the eternally corporate network censoring him, and a final straw was his appearing on “The Dan Patrick” show Thursday, vexing ESPN both by going on a show outside the ESPN umbrella and slamming Goodell for his handling of Deflategate.
If Simmons wants to test anyone’s “testicular fortitude,” he’ll be doing it for another outlet.
Credit to the NY Post who originally published this article
Lauren Shehadi: Ernie Johnson Is The Model For Studio Hosts
“To me, he’s the greatest in-studio host. What he does best is facilitate greatness.”
In addition to her job at MLB Network being a host on MLB Central, Lauren Shehadi is hosting TBS’s Tuesday night baseball coverage each week with Jimmy Rollins, Curtis Granderson, and Pedro Martinez. The Tuesday night games are new for Turner Sports this year after doing only Sunday games during the regular season in addition to the network’s postseason coverage.
Shehadi was a guest on The Kyle Koster Show this week and she was asked what the goal was for her with the MLB on TBS Tuesday broadcasts. She takes a lot of inspiration from what she sees on Inside The NBA on TNT.
“I always think about Ernie Johnson in the same building. To me, he’s the greatest in-studio host. What he does best is facilitate greatness. He gets the most out of Shaq and Kenny [Smith] and Charles [Barkley]. If there’s no ego involved, it’s all about how the show can be so great.
“You look at him and you think how can I be like that? You want to be authentic and be yourself, but in the sense of getting the best out of your guys and girls that you talk to every day. That was my goal going in, Be authentic.”
Shehadi said she gets to spend a lot of time with Johnson and the rest of the Turner Sports crew. Tuesday nights tend to be something of a corporate family reunion.
“On Tuesday nights, we all sit in a room and we all watch NBA, MLB, and NHL when it’s on. We get Shaq’s reaction to Sandy Alcantara’s slider in real-time. What we see from Inside The NBA is when they do demos. When they get up and walk and they are casual and they do little bits, that’s what we try to take to our show, but we want it to feel authentic.”
When Shehadi isn’t hosting Turner Sports’ baseball coverage, she is a part of MLB Central every weekday on MLB Network with Robert Flores and Mark DeRosa. On that show, the goal for her is how to make baseball relatable to everyone:
“That’s the sweet spot of MLB Central. No question is silly. Nobody is smarter than the other. We laugh at ourselves. We laugh at each other. It is just a fun 4 hours, grab your coffee, let’s talk the game, let’s laugh because life is short and baseball is fun.”
AT&T Sportsnet’s Kelsey Wingert Shows Off Stitches After Being Drilled Line Drive
“The veteran reporter is expected to get married in June. Doctors are “hoping” the scar doesn’t effect her big day.”
Baseball reporters at the regional level have some of the toughest jobs in all of sports. Not only do they cover each for all 162 games, but there’s always the potential for getting drilled by a foul ball.
While all MLB ball clubs have expanded their netting this season to protect fans sitting close to the field, Rockies sideline reporter Kelsey Wingert suffered a nasty injury via a foul ball earlier this week.
A scary incident took place on Monday’s outing against the Rockies and San Francisco Giants at Coors Field in Denver. In the ninth inning, Giants outfielder Austin Slater hit a foul ball off Daniel Bard, with the ball heading straight to the dugout, right where Wingert was standing while reporting for AT&T Sportsnet.
After getting attended to by the Rockies medical staff and walking it off, giving fans a “thumbs up,” Wingert ended up having to go to the hospital where she received multiple stitches to her forehead.
The 29-year-old reporter took to Twitter on Wednesday to express her gratitude towards the Rockies organization and AT&T Sportsnet general manager David Woodman, who along with his wife Paula, stayed by her side at the hospital.
“I had a CT scan to make sure there was no internal bleeding or fractures and all came back clear. Thank God,” Wingert said on Twitter Wednesday. “The stitches will have to come out in a week. I’m very lucky it wasn’t worse. It was just really scary and bummed me out given the circumstances.”
You would think this was the first time Wingert got hit by a ball but back in 2018 while working for Fox Sports and the Atlanta Braves she was struck by a foul ball while standing near a camera past the Braves dugout, resulting in a fractured eye socket.
Wingert retweeted a photo taken of her black eye after returning home where she made light of what could’ve been an awful occurrence.
While recovering from her wound, Wingert will be taking a few games off. The veteran reporter is expected to get married in June. Doctors are “hoping” the scar doesn’t effect her big day.
Greg Olsen To Partner With Kevin Burkhardt For Super Bowl LVII
“Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.”
The deal isn’t done yet, but Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that Greg Olsen is on his way to joining Kevin Burkhardt in the top NFL booth at FOX. Although Tom Brady will take over that role after he retires and leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Olsen will spend at least this season on FOX’s A-Team.
Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.
Earlier this year, the former Panther told The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte that he was disappointed he didn’t get to call a postseason game. He will more than make up for that in 2023. As Burkhardt’s partner, Olsen is in line to be the analyst for Super Bowl LVII.
Marchand writes that we could get a taste of what is to come in February. He speculates that if the Buccaneers are not in the Super Bowl, it is possible Tom Brady could make his FOX debut, either in the booth alongside Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen or as part of the network’s studio show.
Now, FOX has to make a decision about it’s number 2 NFL booth. According to Marchand, Drew Brees is a candidate to be the analyst. Adam Amin and Joe Davis have emerged as candidates for the play-by-play role.