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Indy 500 Voice, Former ESPN NASCAR Anchor Bob Jenkins Dies

The broadcaster first started attending the Indy 500 in 1960.

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Courtesy: IMS

A legend in the racing game has passed away. Indianapolis Motor Speedway confirmed an Indianapolis Star report that Bob Jenkins, 73, died on Monday. Jenkins was the longtime voice of the Indianapolis 500 and anchored ESPN’s NASCAR coverage for nearly 20 years.

Jenkins announced in February that he was battling his second stint of cancer after previously fending off the disease in 1983. He was a Jack of all trades at IMS, helping carry out their radio and television broadcasts.

“Bob Jenkins, over the years, he was just a figure that was always there and very much front and center in Indianapolis,” racing legend Mario Andretti told the Indianapolis Star. “His voice is just absolutely unique. I would always know who was talking. He was just one of those that developed his career alongside ours, you know. He was one of us in every way.”

Jenkins was a constant fixture at the Indy 500 starting in 1960. He joined the IMS Radio Network in 1979 and aided in ESPN’s earliest coverage of NASCAR, IMSA, IndyCar, USAC, and other racing series.

“Bob Jenkins lent his iconic voice to so many memorable NASCAR moments, telling the story of our sport to millions of fans for years,” NASCAR said in an official statement. “Though known for his immense talent as a broadcaster, Bob’s passion for motorsports truly defined what it meant to be a racer. The motorsports industry lost a broadcasting legend and a friend with Bob’s passing. NASCAR extends its deepest condolences to Bob’s friends and family.”

Jenkins began covering motorsports for ESPN in 1981. Paired with Larry Nuber to start his time with ESPN, Jenkins later cemented an iconic three-man booth with NASCAR Hall of Famers Ned Jarrett and Benny Parsons.

“He certainly was very good at leading Benny and I where we needed to go and always making us look good,” Jarrett said in 2012. “That’s something I’ve always appreciated.”

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Erin Andrews, Charissa Thompson Admit They’ve Made Up Sideline Reports

“Former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler was the featured guest on the show, and at one point he was asked about questions reporters asked that annoyed him the most.”

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EXTRA

Being a sideline reporter or just reporting in general, particularly with poor-performing teams, can be a challenge.

Often, no matter how a reporter forms the question, a coach or player isn’t going to give the full in-depth answer the reporter was hoping for. But when the interviewee doesn’t give the answer a reporter wants to hear, that puts the reporter in a difficult situation. On the most recent edition of the podcast Calm Down with Erin and Charissa, sideline reporters Erin Andrews and Charissa Thompson admitted they’ve had to make up reports based on the answers, or non-answers, they were given.

Former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler was the featured guest on the show, and at one point he was asked about questions reporters asked that annoyed him the most. He answered that often it was a question along the lines of “What happened” or “Why did you throw a pass there” on a particular play.

“Sometimes the receiver just fell down, but you can’t be like, ‘Hey, the receiver fell down,’” he said. “You can’t be like, ‘You know what, the O.C. called an awful play, and I just ran it.’…You can’t say those things.”

As the conversation continued, and Cutler talked about having his own conversations with coaches breaking down what happened on the field, that’s when Thompson made the admission.

At the time, she was a newer reporter and covered the Detroit Lions during the 2008 season, when the Lions went 0-16. When things were going tough, then-head coach Rod Marinelli would tell her things like, “That’s a great perfume you’re wearing,” when Thompson would ask about making adjustments at halftime.

“I was like ‘oh f**k, this isn’t gonna work,” she said. “I’m like, alright I’ve got to make up a report. I’m not kidding, I made up a report.”

Andrews added that she, too, had to do the same thing because “he was telling me all the wrong stuff.”

“You’re not going to say anything that’s going to put them in a bad spot,” Thompson said.

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Mike Tirico To Return From Beijing To Host Super Bowl

“The plan is to have Tirico on location in Beijing for the first seven days of the Olympics. He’ll then fly to Los Angeles in time to host the network’s primetime coverage on Friday, February 11.”

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USA Today Sports

NBC Sports host Mike Tirico is going to log a metric ton of frequent flier miles at the beginning of February, as the network gears up to present two of the world’s biggest sporting events all within a span of a couple weeks.

The 2022 Winter Olympics are set to open on February 4. Given the time difference between the East Coast here in the U.S. and China’s capital city, American audiences will be seeing things unfold beginning February 3.

The plan is to have Tirico on location in Beijing for the first seven days of the Olympics. He’ll then fly to Los Angeles in time to host the network’s primetime coverage on Friday, February 11. Mike Tirico will be presenting from a special set located outside SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, where Super Bowl LVI will take place on Sunday, February 13.

He’ll host Olympic coverage on Saturday night and then host NBC’s five-hour Super Bowl pre-game coverage the next day. But he won’t be done when pre-game coverage is done, as he’ll then go back to the Olympic set to host the primetime show.

“It is a career highlight to host the biggest sports broadcast day any media company has ever undertaken,” Mike Tirico said in a statement. “The foundation of our Olympic and NFL productions are the incredible people behind the camera. It is their planning and excellence that make this possible.”

“Mike’s knowledge, preparation and ability to converse on anything from figure skating to football are second-to-none,” added NBC Olympics Production president and executive producer Molly Solomon. “We are counting down until it all begins next month.”

Thankfully, it doesn’t appear that Tirico will have to make a return flight to China for the final days of the Olympics. But the man will undoubtedly deserve a long break from TV hosting duties when all is said and done.

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Joel Klatt: I ‘Should’ve Pushed Back’ On Kayvon Thibodeaux

“Klatt didn’t go into detail about why he chose to apologize the following day, but on Thursday he took to Twitter to acknowledge that he shouldn’t have let Thibodeaux’s comments about the University of Alabama go unchallenged.”

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Kayvon Thibodeaux will be one of the first three players off the board when the NFL Draft rolls around. In an interview with FOX’s Joel Klatt, Thibodeaux explained that it was thinking about life after football that lead him to choose the University of Oregon over the University of Alabama. He told Klatt that Oregon’s association with Nike made him feel like it was the smarter long-term choice.

Explaining his choice in that way is barely noteworthy, particularly in the age of Name, Image and Likeness deals for college athletes. It was Kayvon Thibodeaux’s further explaining why he did not want to go to the University of Alabama that drew the ire of some fans.

“For me, I already hate the stigmatism of football players being dumb jocks. Now, do you know the stigmatism of Alabama education? It ain’t the West Coast. It ain’t Harvard,” Thibodeaux said.

He would go on to say that he didn’t “know if my degree would mean anything” if he had chosen to play his college football in Tuscaloosa.

Klatt didn’t push back at all. In fact, he said that Kayvon Thibodeaux had “a great perspective” on his college decision.

That opened the floodgates of criticism for the FOX Sports college football analyst. Klatt didn’t go into detail about why he chose to apologize the following day, but on Thursday he took to Twitter to acknowledge that he shouldn’t have let Thibodeaux’s comments about the University of Alabama go unchallenged.

This seems like a non-issue at this point. Kayvon Thibodeaux is leaving college for the NFL, so aside from maybe hearing it from teammates that spent their college years in Alabama, he never has to worry about crossing paths with the school. Joel Klatt works for FOX, which does not have a rights deal with the SEC.

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