Before NBC got the rights to Sunday Night Football in 2006, people would run to their televisions to watch Chris Berman and Tom Jackson on NFL Primetime on ESPN every Sunday night. Before RedZone and even before NFL Sunday Ticket (1994), that show was the only way fans could see highlights of games they couldn’t watch during the day.
Berman was a guest on Monday’s Pardon My Take. During the conversation, he said sportscasters are making a mistake when showing highlights. While Berman understands people know the score before they watch the highlights, he believes that the play should be read as if it were happening live:
“This is where they make a mistake now. Everyone assumes you hear about a play and you call it on your phone for one second. Even at the end of the day when you know everything, here’s the whole meal for Week 12, for example,” said Berman.
“Give me the meal and those doing the highlights. People should not assume that everyone watching has seen the game or the highlights. You owe it to the viewer to do them like they are live. Give it to you like it’s happening live, even if it is the game that you have seen. Result of the game is okay, but not the play.”
In addition to hosting NFL Primetime (now on ESPN+), Berman is well-known for the nicknames he gave to numerous athletes. When he was doing baseball highlights in the early years of ESPN, he used them to hide that people couldn’t see video yet still made reading the score exciting:
“You try to embellish a little bit because it’s every night and not all of them were video,” Berman said. “A lot of them were Kansas City 5, Seattle 3 for 30 seconds. Don’t make jokes and take information away, but if I’m going to say Frank ‘Tanana Daiquiri’ struck out 13, it cost me half a second.”
However, there was a time in the mid-1980s where the nicknames went away. While they eventually came back in April 1986, it’s hard to imagine Berman reading a highlight without any of those signature nicknames:
“We had a new executive producer (early September 1985) say you can’t use them anymore. I’ve been doing them for five years, everyone likes them. He had no real reason. There’s three weeks left in the season. First of all, if he’s any smart, you do it in November; maybe no one noticed and then you don’t come back… I cut out all the nicknames.”
While Berman has been seen as one of the faces of ESPN, that does not mean that other networks didn’t try to pursue him. He told Pardon My Take that NBC tried to pursue him in 1989. While ESPN was unable to match the high-money offer NBC had, they got close enough for Berman to stay:
“I said, Steve Bornstein, don’t fault me for this, but in the end, I said you don’t have to match this, you got to get within a 9-iron,” he said. “They did and that was the best decision I ever made.
“We got the NFL in 1987. If I went there, I would be waiting to be the NFL guy behind Bob Costas. I’m doing that and I’m doing it for an audience everyday.”
It’s hard to imagine what the sports media landscape would have looked like then or even today if Berman had left ESPN for NBC, since he is one of the people associated with the worldwide leader.
Bomani Jones: ‘Tim Anderson Asked Me To Interview Him’
“I got to comport myself in such a way that dudes I cover respect me, if I want them to talk to me. I have to go the extra mile in terms of earning respect if I want to have these cats listen to me.”
Josh Donaldson and Tim Anderson were all over the news last week after the two exchanged words during the Yankees-White Sox series. Over the course of two days, an altercation between the two started a bench-clearing brawl, and then a second altercation occurred when Donaldson called Tim Anderson “Jackie,” a reference to Jackie Robinson.
Bomani Jones was one of the few people in the media to land an on-camera interview with Anderson for his podcast, The Right Time, where they got a chance to discuss what really took place during that moment.
Donaldson’s “Jackie” comment was a reference to a Sports Illustrated article from 2019 in which Anderson referred to himself as being similar to the Dodgers Hall of Famer. Anderson said publicly that it may have been a joke to Donaldson, but it did not feel that way to him.
On Friday’s edition of his show, former NFL player and current ESPN NFL analyst Domonique Foxworth asked Jones how he landed an interview with Anderson. Jones said Anderson was the one pursuing him.
“He sent me a DM and was like yo, I want to talk,” Jones said to Foxworth. “I not gonna lie to y’all, he was hoping to not have to do media availability so we were sitting on it because we wanted it to be the big surprise, we wanted to drop the big joker when all the spades have been played.”
The trust level between an athlete and a reporter is arguably the most important thing for any journalist. Jones said he has had to build that trust in a different way from many in his position.
“I didn’t come up reporting, I wasn’t on the ground. And so I am in a lot of ways the dude sitting in his house popping off at people. I get every criticism that comes with that, so as a result, I got to comport myself in such a way that dudes I cover respect me, if I want them to talk to me. I have to go the extra mile in terms of earning respect if I want to have these cats listen to me. So for me it feels good when something like that happens because it means my goal, at least with that one person has been achieved.”
John Skipper: ‘Tom Brady is a Very Expensive Trophy for FOX’
“I think for Tom Brady’s pride, he had to be paid the most money because he is the greatest of all-time.”
The NFL broadcasting world went through a series of massive changes this offseason. Outside of the No. 1 crew at CBS (Jim Nantz and Tony Romo), every other network will have new faces appear on our television screens during game days.
Out of the large amounts of money being thrown around at various networks in the industry, it was Tom Brady’s massive 10-year, $375-million broadcasting deal with FOX that turned a lot of heads. Not only does the deal indicate that the seven-time Super Bowl champ will be retiring in the very near future, but some, including Dan Le Batard, wondered why such a fortune was being given to someone who has “never said anything interesting'” during his career in the NFL.
During the “local hour” of his popular show on Thursday, Le Batard welcomed former ESPN president and his Meadowlark Media partner, John Skipper. He expressed a similar.
“There’s very little economic value. He’s a very, very expensive trophy,” Skipper said on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. “I think he’ll probably be okay on the game. It doesn’t really matter that much other than for pride and I guess he’ll shake advertisers’ hands.”
To put into context how massive Brady’s deal is, the future Hall of Famer will not only be making more in 10-years than he has throughout his entire 20+ year NFL career ($302.96 million in total earnings) but he will also be leapfrogging broadcast vet Troy Aikman–getting paid twice the amount of the former Cowboys QBs’ new deal with ESPN.
“I think for Tom Brady’s pride, he had to be paid the most money because he is the greatest of all-time,” Skipper said.
Skipper continues to add that the money FOX gave Brady could’ve been put to better use, making a more significant impact in other areas of the business, including securing live event rights.
He then brought up Mike Tirico, who called Monday Night Football at ESPN during Skipper’s tenure at the network. No matter how much faith he had in the play-by-play man, Skipper said he didn’t feel the need to overspend on a partner to help him shine.
“I put Mike Tirico in the booth and thought he did an outstanding job, but I would not have paid any ex-player $15, $20, or $25 million to sit next to him.”
North Carolina Lawmakers Expect Mobile Sports Betting By Football Season
“North Carolina’s neighbors, including Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, have already legalized mobile sports betting.”
It is already legal to place bets in North Carolina on sporting events. It is just incredibly difficult. Bets can only be made inside of 2 Cherokee casinos in the western part of the state. That could change before football season.
The State Senate, which is politically divided, passed SB 688 last year. If it makes it through the State House, it would become law and North Carolinians could then theoretically place bets online legally.
SB 88 was sponsored by Paul Lowe, a Democrat from Forsyth County. He told WRAL-TV in Raleigh that he is optimistic about what will happen in the House.
“We just want to make sure we have drummed up the votes, and I think we have,” he said. “I feel confident about it.”
North Carolina’s neighbors, including Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, have already legalized mobile sports betting.
Politically, North Carolina is considered a purple state. That is showing up in the effort to legalize mobile wagering. One of the bill’s biggest advocates in the House is Jason Saine, a Republican from Lincoln County.
“We’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll. I’ve not heard any new opposition,” he told WRAL. “I think we have a pretty smooth glide path once we do kind of start rolling into session.”
The state’s Lottery Commission would oversee sports gambling. If the SB 688 is passed, operators would pay $500,000 for a five-year license, which can be renewed for $100,000. They would also pay an 8% tax on adjusted gross revenue. Both of those numbers are low compared to other states.
“Once we pass this bill, there’s some tweaks we’re going to do,” Lowe said. “But right now we’re just trying to get it out of the chute.”