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Glasspiegal: Witten Could Get ESPN a Super Bowl

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Ryan Glasspiegal has an interesting new column up at The Big Lead. While others are spending another Tuesday mocking Jason Witten and his verbal gaffes on Monday Night Football, Glasspiegal argues that Witten may be the key to better matchups and an eventual Super Bowl on ESPN.

He writes that it is no secret that ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro has been working hard to mend a relationship with the league that became strained under John Skipper’s leadership. Glasspiegal points to Sean McDonough’s and Jon Gruden’s harsh criticism of the league and its officiating as further upsetting to NFL brass. He rehashes the old rumor that the NFL retaliated for the negative coverage by relegating a truly awful slate of games to Monday nights. Witten doesn’t present that kind of critical threat in prime time.

Witten is unlikely to portray the league in a light that its stakeholders will be unhappy with. Even the “left wing” comment, which he later said was a “mix up”, is something actually more likely to endear him with traditionalist NFL owners than make them queasy.

Glasspiegal writes that the once-frosty relationship began to ease up the second ESPN hired Witten to be a part of Monday Night Football.

When Jerry Jones announced Witten’s hiring at ESPN’s Upfronts this past May, it was a symbolic moment of bridge-building in ESPN’s relationship with the league.

ESPN would not only like a more appealing slate of games, which it seems to be getting this year with more appearances by high profile teams and marquee players. It would also like to shed the distinction of being the league’s only broadcast partner that isn’t part of the Super Bowl rotation. Glasspiegal writes that a mended relationship will help, but there is another problem standing in ESPN’s way.

In addition to wanting better matchups, ESPN would love to get into the Super Bowl cycle in the next round of league rights. Perhaps the NFL, which loves broadcast television, would not want the game exclusively on cable, but ESPN could easily simulcast the game with ABC.

The network’s coverage of the College Football Playoff could provide an excellent blueprint for how ESPN might package a Super Bowl. The main broadcast could go on ABC with multiple alternate options on the ESPN Networks. Whatever the case, ESPN certainly is the broadcast partner in the best position to work with the NFL to innovate how the biggest event in American sports is presented. If ESPN gets that, and the NFL gets that, and most importantly, if the fans get that, then as Glasspiegal writes about Witten’s frequent verbal gaffes, “are the growing pains not worth it?”

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FanDuel TV Strikes Deal With ONE Championship Martial Arts

“We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

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FanDuel TV and ONE Championship Martial Arts have struck a deal that will see the MMA, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and submission grappling series air weekly events on the newly launched channel.

“We’re eager to continue expanding the variety of content we’re offering at FanDuel TV to introduce our audience to emerging sports,” said FanDuel Chief Commercial Officer Mike Raffensperger. “We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

ONE Championship is a top-five global sports property for digital viewership and engagement according to Nielsen measurements.

“We are thrilled to join the FanDuel TV lineup and give our passionate U.S. audience yet another way to engage with ONE Championship,” said ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. “Having a quality partner in FanDuel will help raise the profile of our company in the region and provide their viewers with action-packed martial arts events like they have never seen before.”

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Bob Costas Re-Lives First Announcing Assignment For NBC

“My biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979.”

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Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas appeared on KNBR’s Tolbert & Copes Thursday to discuss the death of Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. But before the conversation turned to the recently departed pitcher, the show asked Costas about what he has announced that would surprise someone. He reminisced about his first time on the air for NBC.

“My very first assignment for NBC, my biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979,” Costas recounted. “There was a program on NBC then called Sports World. It was an anthology series that was their answer to the gold standard, ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

“So they traveled the globe, like Wide World of Sports did. So they sent me, wearing a red NBC jacket, to Tokyo to cover a sumo wrestling tournament with seven-time world power-lifting champion Larry Pacifico as my color man. Now, this is all the Japanese I learned as we came on the air: ‘Minasan kon’nichwa watashinoamaeha Bob Costas’, which means ‘Hello everyone, my name is Bob Costas’. If ever there was typecasting, when they sat and looked at their roster of announcers and went ‘Who should we send to the sumo wrestling? It’s gotta be Costas, who’s entire body weight would constitute one meal for the sumo wrestling champion.”

Costas departed NBC Sports in 2019 after 40 years with the network, announcing MLB, NBA, and the Olympics, in addition to his work with the network’s sumo wrestling coverage.

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Matt Leinart, Alex Smith Make Wager Over Pac-12 Championship Game

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous. I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.”

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FOX Sports analyst Matt Leinart and ESPN analyst Alex Smith have made a friendly wager over the upcoming Pac-12 Championship Game.

USC, Leinart’s alma mater, is slated to play Utah, where Smith attended, in the game Friday evening on FOX from Las Vegas.

The two agreed to don the other player’s jersey. “At least it will be 11,” Smith said, noting he and Leinart both wore the number during their playing days.

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous,” Leinart said when presented with the offer. “I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.” Smith jokingly responded by calling USC “Free Agent University”. He added he would overnight Leinart a jersey to ensure he had one if the Utes were victorious.

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