The Carolina Panthers have announced their TV broadcast team for the 2021 preseason, which will now consist of three games in lieu of four. Second-year Panthers sideline reporter Kristen Balboni will be joined by longtime North Carolinian broadcaster Taylor Zarzour and former Panthers legend Steve Smith Sr.
“Steve’s one of the greatest Panthers ever, he’s in our Hall of Honor, and this year, he’s up for the Hall of Fame. So we’re obviously thrilled to have him back in the building,” Panthers Owner David Tepper said. “He’s an important part of this team’s history, and of course, a big presence in the community. So connecting him closer to both areas is very exciting.”
Now an analyst on NFL Network, Smith played 13 seasons in Carolina earning four Pro Bowl nods before being released in March 2014 and playing his final three years for the Baltimore Ravens. A fan favorite in the Queen City, Smith made it known his displeasure with the unceremonious exit, though there has since been a change in both ownership and general managers.
“I’m looking forward to talking about these games from a former player’s perspective and why these games are significant,” Smith Sr. said. “For these young men, this is their chance to make the roster. Breaking that down and giving some substance and texture to why that is important, I think sometimes that lacks in game broadcasts. I feel like this is my opportunity to break that down and explain why this is important, and I’ll try to bring that to the table with my unique spin as an analyst.”
Zarzour has lived in North Carolina since 2004, and Charlotte since 2011. He currently serves as a commentator for ESPN’s college football and college baseball games, as well as a radio voice for golf’s majors. Before that, he spent time with various sports radio stations, including 610 WFNZ in Charlotte.
Balboni has worked for both ESPN and FOX Sports, and is entering her second year as the team reporter, covering the team for the Panthers’ website and other digital properties and hosting a variety of Panthers’ programming, according to a release. The broadcasts can be seen on the team’s flagship station WSOC-TV in Charlotte and across the Carolinas on the team’s network of syndicated affiliates.
Peter King: ‘Tom Brady Needs To Study Cris Collinsworth’
“He’ll know that to be good, he has to get out of his comfort zone of all niceties and tell it like it is.”
Peter King dedicated a not-insignificant portion of his “Football Morning in America” column this week to advice for Tom Brady. FOX announced last week that the Buccaneers’ quarterback will become the network’s lead NFL analyst upon his retirement.
Brady’s decision and his reported salary have been the source of much speculation and prediction amongst his soon-to-be colleagues.
King is optimistic that Tom Brady will be entertaining and informative when he makes his FOX debut. He did offer the GOAT a little bit of advice about what he should be doing in the months leading up to calling it quits on his playing days and starting his new career.
“I think what I’d do if I were Brady is study Cris Collinsworth—and honest to goodness, I don’t say that because I work for NBC,” he wrote. “I say it because Collinsworth knows how to talk X’s-and-O’s conversationally, he’s an easy listen, and he can criticize when the time comes.”
Interestingly, last week, Collinsworth says he hears from most former players that are getting ready to make the jump to broadcasting. He was surprised he never heard from Tom Brady before FOX announced their deal.
King had two other suggestions. The first was that Brady watch multiple games from start to finish so that he can hear what the give-and-take between a broadcaster and analyst sounds like. The other is that he has to commit to being interesting and not censoring himself. King has faith that Brady will be able to do that.
“He’ll know that to be good, he has to get out of his comfort zone of all niceties and tell it like it is. On that LeBron James show last year, Brady said, ‘Ninety percent of what I say is not what I’m thinking. There’s a part of me that doesn’t like conflict, so in the end I always just try to play it super-flat.’ That has to end once he’s on TV if he wants to be any good.”
Nick Wright Critical Of ABC Crew As Giannis Antetokounmpo Struggles In Game 7
“He reminded his followers on Twitter that the two-time MVP has put together some amazing performances in this series.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo started hot in Game 7 on Sunday. By the time the game ended though, the Boston Celtics were on their way to Miami for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals and the defending champions were headed back to Milwaukee.
The Celtics’ defense gave the Milwaukee Bucks fits in the second half. The ABC broadcast put a special spotlight on Antetokounmpo, who got multiple drives to the basket that he could not finish.
“The best has got to show up when the best is needed, and Giannis has been disappointing,” said Mark Jackson over a package of highlights of Giannis missing shots. “As great of a player as he is, given credit to the Celtics’ defense, but he has struggled offensively time and time again.”
Nick Wright of FS1 noticed and he didn’t appreciate it. He reminded his followers on Twitter that the two-time MVP has put together some amazing performances in this series.
Mike Been, Mark Jackson, and Jeff Van Gundy were not particularly hard on Giannis. The trio made the typical comments we hear when things aren’t going a great player’s way.
Wright did not harp on the issue beyond the single tweet. The outcome was not in doubt as the clock winded down. He gave credit to the Celtics rather than tweet about the Bucks or Giannis.
Stephanie McMahon: WWE Is A Better Advertising Investment Than Sports
“We can script the buzzer-beater moments, we can script the Hail Marys.”
Everyone knows that professional wrestling is scripted. The storylines, the outcomes of matches, all of it is predetermined. But in the eyes of WWE, that’s what makes their product so different, and better than traditional sports.
WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon told Deadline that when it comes to pitching advertisers, sports entertainment allows room for a range of different approaches to make something work.
“We can script the buzzer-beater moments, we can script the Hail Marys,” she said. “We have a leg up on sports. … You may object to what we do, but you’re never going to be bored.”
McMahon added that WWE has a much easier process in dealing with sponsors. Everything is handled in-house.
“We own all of the IP,” she said. “When brands deal with us, they just deal with us. We create something together.”
WWE is coming off a positive Q1 earnings report, which had the company up 27% in total revenue. Its two weekly primetime shows, Monday Night RAW and Friday Night SmackDown, continue to do well in ratings, and all special and pay-per-view events, in addition to its streaming platform WWE Network, are all housed on Peacock.