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John Skipper Reveals Biggest Regrets Of ESPN Career

“The first event that Skipper mentioned that he regretted was losing the rights to the World Cup.”

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Despite all the great things that John Skipper did as president of ESPN from 2012-2017, it is normal for people to have regrets or wonder what could have happened if certain decisions were made. 

On Part 3 of South Beach Sessions on Le Batard and FriendsDan Le Batard and Skipper examined some of those possible regrets as part of what is now a 4-part series.

The first event that Skipper mentioned that he regretted was losing the rights to the World Cup. ESPN had the rights to the World Cup in 2010 and 2014, but eventually FOX won the rights to soccer’s premiere event from 2018-2026. Here is what Skipper had to say about that process: 

“I regret losing the World Cup. One of my proudest accomplishments was getting the World Cup for 2010 and 2014 just three weeks into my job as chief content officer. I did see that the World Cup was going to become a huge event in the United States. To me, it is the world’s greatest sporting event. I wanted to give it its due on the air on ESPN, which we did. We lost it and it is now on FOX.” 

Skipper also addressed the corruption that was going on at FIFA and how he thought the bidding process was not fair.

“I used to say about Sepp Blatter that the fact that his first name is short for septic and his second name is a receptacle for urine should tell you all you need to know about him and how he runs FIFA.

“FIFA was a dramatically corrupt organization. Indeed, people had been indicted for what had gone on in that process. I don’t think it was a fair bidding process for the 2018-2026 rights. I do not believe we lost in a fair manner. However, I still regret not figuring out how to overcome that. If somebody had said to me if you bribe this person, you would have got it. I would have said no.” 

Skipper also mentioned that he regretted losing out on the rights to the NHL while acknowledging that NBC has been a good place for the NHL. He later went in-depth on that possible negotiation towards the end of the podcast: 

“I’ve mentioned before, but another real disappointment was I was working with John Collins (NHL’s chief operating officer at the time) on the NHL deal and I thought we were quite close, we made a very aggressive bid. I expected to hear back from John that we could get there if you can sweeten this a little bit. John called me and said we decided to renew with NBC. It still stings a little bit. I was a pretty relentless negotiator and that was one where I thought I worked hard, I did the right thing, and it just didn’t happen. It was the right decision for them, but disappointing for me.”

Throughout Part 3, you will hear how Skipper became the president at ESPN in part to an answer he gave on an annual review, how he negotiated the NBA deal and the College Football playoff deal, and why the idea of ESPN The Phone just did not work. 

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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.”

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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.” 

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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