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ESPN Will Show NFL Player Protests In Week 1

“McCarthy points out that Sean McManus of CBS Sports made a statement similar to Druley’s earlier this week.”

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ESPN is not shying away from controversy as it opens a new Monday Night Football season. While plenty of eyes and scrutiny will be on the network as it lets its top college crew call the first game of the Week 1 doubleheader and the new crew for the 2020 season call the second game, plenty will also be focused on what the network shows in the pregame.

“Stephanie Druley, executive vice president of event and studio production, said ESPN plans to cover any players protesting during the U.S. national anthem, as well as the performance of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ known as the Black national anthem, during the network’s NFL Week 1 doubleheader Sept. 14,” Michael McCarthy writes for Front Office Sports.

Druley made the announcement during a conference call with reporters. She said this isn’t a special exception or an instance of trying to push an agenda. It falls in line with ESPN’s past standards for airing the national anthem.

“Our policy is to cover the anthem when it’s newsworthy. That’s not going to change,” she said. “We are going to continue as we’ve done with the NBA and the WNBA. We will cover social justice movements, actions, as they happen. We’re not going to shy away from that.”

Usually, NFL TV partners have refrained from televising the singing of the national anthem if it is not ahead of one of the league’s biggest games. That seems to be different in 2020, at least for Week 1.

McCarthy points out that Sean McManus of CBS Sports made a statement similar to Druley’s earlier this week. McManus acknowledged that plenty of people will be tuning in only to see and hear about football “but we’re not going to ignore it.” He noted the network will “need to thread the needle just the right way.”

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Dick Vitale’s Season Is Over As He Continues Recovery

“According to Dick Vitale, his doctors have told him that the chemotherapy he has received has worked as hoped.”

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Dick Vitale has come to the conclusion that he likely needs surgery to deal with Dysplasia and ulcerated lesions of the vocal cords. Before that can happen though, the ESPN college basketball analyst needs to continue resting. That means his season is over.

Vitale made the announcement on ESPN’s PR site, Front Row on Monday.

“You know I am an eternal optimist who acts like he’s a teenager,” he wrote. “Yet there is no doubt these past five months have been emotionally and physically frustrating. I am so appreciative of the love and care demonstrated by the incredible members of the medical community. And I will be forever grateful for the calls, texts, and social media expressions of encouragement from friends, colleagues, fans, media and members of my ESPN family. I love people, and I’m honored to receive such overwhelming support.”

According to Dick Vitale, his doctors have told him that the chemotherapy he has received has worked as hoped. The three weeks between the last time he called a game and receiving the news that his season was likely over also played a role in his recovery he says.

“I will continue to provide updates as I go along, and I am firm in my belief that I will win this battle and be back doing what I love – calling games at courtside next season. In the meantime, I will enjoy all the great games from my living room and savor the love of my marvelous family. Thank you all,” Vitale added.

He only called two games during this season, but they were huge matchups. The crowd also reacted in a big way, giving Vitale prolonged ovations.

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Stephen A. Smith Loves SNL’s ‘First Take’ Spoof: ‘This Is Hilarious’

“I haven’t laughed that hard about SNL in 20 years.”

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ESPN’s First Take was the subject of a recent Saturday Night Live skit and even though it didn’t make the final cut for broadcast on NBC, the sketch did circulate on social media Monday.

The sketch had hosts Stephen A. Smith and Michael Irvin debate whether Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady was “exceptional or very exceptional” before transitioning to a debate about apples or oranges. Moderator Molly Qerim wasn’t spared either, as she made sure to remind viewers how much time was left in the show.

Stephen A. tweeted the skit out offering an initial reaction before reacting further in a short break on Monday’s show (via Mediaite).

Smith was portrayed by cast member Chris Redd and gave props to him and Kenan Thompson, who played Irvin. (Chloe Gardner played Qerim.) Stephen A. also suggested people check out Redd’s imitation of new New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

“I haven’t laughed that hard about SNL in 20 years,” said Smith. “He did me well, but I’m telling y’all right now, that brother Chris Redd imitating the new mayor of New York Mayor Eric Adams, I promise y’all it’s must-see. Trust me on that.”

All in good fun and even though the skit didn’t make it to air, it was well-received online and by the First Take crew.

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Jim Nantz Believes Ryan Fitzpatrick Has Future In TV

“I’ve always said that is a guy that will be, if he wants to be, a great piece of television talent down the road.”

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Every network is usually out there looking to find the former athlete who can have success in a second career as a broadcaster or a TV analyst. For Jim Nantz, he believes there is one quarterback out there that, if he wants a job in the business, would be the perfect guy for it.

During an appearance on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with Jimmy Trainathe name that Nantz mentioned was Ryan Fitzpatrick. He said his favorite thing about Super Wild Card Weekend was seeing Fitzpatrick with fans at the game for Buffalo’s playoff win over New England:

“My favorite thing I saw all weekend was Ryan Fitzpatrick,” Nantz told Traina. “What he did was one of the great validations for us fans that these guys actually care. We always want them to be one of us and we know they are getting paid a lot of money to play these games and play for our team, but do they really care? What does it mean to them?

“His [Fitzpatrick’s] journey has taken him to a lot of stops around the league. There he is, sub-zero wind chill factor, shirtless, man of the people, sitting in the stands cheering full-throated lustily for the Bills. That felt good. The fan side of me loved it. I just thought it said so much about him.”

While Nantz isn’t sure what Fitzpatrick has planned for his future after football, he thinks whatever the Harvard alum with the notable beard wants to do, it will be great.

“I don’t know what his second act is going to be, but I am going to predict it’s going to be huge,” Nantz said.

“There’s something about him. I’ve gotten to know him virtually every stop along the way in his NFL career and maybe he’s not even finished playing, but he wasn’t doing that to try to generate attention. He probably didn’t know the guy who shot that was going to post it. That’s Ryan Fitzpatrick. He has always had a way with a sense of humor and a way with phrasing things.”

One of the qualities that Nantz likes about Fitzpatrick is how real of a person he is and he would vouch for him if somebody asked:

“I’ve always said that is a guy that will be, if he wants to be, a great piece of television talent down the road,” said Nantz. “That’s there if he wants it. I would definitely make a run at him if somebody ever asked me. Maybe there’s something else he wants to do, but the thing is he is very real and that is a quality that’s worth a lot.” 

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