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Mike Tirico, Tony Dungy Under Fire For Defending Jon Gruden

“It is hard to think NBC would feel the need to discipline Tirico or Dungy for their comments. It will be interesting to see if either address them or Gruden’s resignation during next Sunday’s show.”

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On Sunday, most of America was aware of only one email containing firable statements from Jon Gruden. That is when Mike Tirico and Tony Dungy weighed in on someone they both referred to as a friend.

During that night’s edition of Football Night in America on NBC, both men advocated for forgiveness and giving Gruden a second chance.

“I’m not going to chalk everything up to racism. I think we should accept his apology and move on like he did with his team,” Tony Dungy said.

Mike Tirico pointed out that he was working alongside Jon Gruden during the time the coach wrote the racist email referencing the size of DeMaurice Smith’s lips. The two were partners on Monday Night Football for seven years. Tirico speculated that that likely means he knows Jon Gruden personally as well or better than anyone in the NFL.

“He said it right. He was ashamed by the comments in the email. The comments in the email are wrong,” Tirico said. “But, my experience kinda parallel Tim Brown, who played for Jon, a hall of fame wide receiver. He said he never experienced or saw anything that would say Jon was racist in any way. That was exactly the experience I had those seven years of traveling, three days on the road every week.”

At the time, there was some criticism for the two online. Fast forward 24 hours though, and America had seen emails from Gruden containing homophobic language, misogynist comments about female referees and statements against the NFL increasing its commitment to safety.

Jon Gruden resigned before the Monday Night Football matchup between the Colts and Ravens even kicked off. It seems that members of the sports media took to Twitter almost as quickly to condemn Dungy and Tirico for encouraging viewers to forgive Gruden.

It is hard to think NBC would feel the need to discipline Tirico or Dungy for their comments. It will be interesting to see if either address them or Gruden’s resignation during next Sunday’s show.

For the record, Tony Dungy did defend his statements in a thread on Twitter on Tuesday.

Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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Sports TV News

NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake

“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”

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The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”

Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.

Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.

Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”

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Sports TV News

Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’

“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

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Greg Olsen

Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen are on tap to call Super Bowl LVII in February, and Olsen told Front Office Sports he has the confidence to announce the game with no hesitations.

“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”

Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.

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