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Cari Champion: My Job on ‘First Take’ Was To Ask Questions and Lay Out

“When Ray Rice was on the elevator punching his then fiancée now wife, we all had to talk about it. They were very clear that I couldn’t weigh in. What does that look like? We’re talking about domestic violence and you have the only woman in the show not being able to discuss it.”

Ricky Keeler

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Cari Champion

From 2012-2015, Cari Champion was the moderator for First Take on ESPN with Skip Bayless and Stephen A Smith. While she was a part of the show, she was not able to voice her opinion on the topics that were being discussed.

Champion was a guest on the I Am Athlete podcast with Brandon Marshall, Adam “Pac-Man” Jones, and Nick “Swaggy P” Jones. She knew Bayless and Smith were hard workers, but she did not feel like she was valued by ESPN:

“They [Skip and Stephen A] are exactly who they are. Super-talented, they worked hard, they taught me work ethic…They did the homework, they came prepared. The problem was for me as a black woman in that position at the time, nobody was Monday-Friday on a popular 2-hour TV show that was a black woman. They let me know I didn’t matter, intentionally or unintentionally. It was obvious. You don’t matter. Just be happy that you are here. Don’t talk. Ask questions. Just be happy that you are here.”

When she first started at First Take, Champion said that Jemele Hill was a huge help to her, especially when people were criticizing her for pronouncing names wrong:

“The first few weeks were crazy. I went from 500 followers on Twitter to thousands and thousands. Aggressive a** fans. I don’t like your hair, your shoes, you don’t know what you are talking about. My whole world is rocked. I figured it out, but I figured it out with help from people who did it before like Jemele Hill, like when they used to be on my a** for pronouncing names right.”

Champion mentioned that the show went from talking about more than sports when the Ray Rice domestic violence incident happened in 2014. Everyone was asked to weigh in on the situation, except Champion:

“My job was only to ask questions and lay out. Then, we started to talk about more than just sports…When Ray Rice was on the elevator punching his then fiancée now wife, we all had to talk about it. They were very clear that I couldn’t weigh in. What does that look like? We’re talking about domestic violence and you have the only woman in the show not being able to discuss it. By they, I don’t know who made the decision, but it became so awkward and noticeable that people started to write about it…It was so foreign to have women debate.”

However, Champion mentioned when she watched the show after she left and Molly Qerim became the host, she noticed Qerim was allowed to talk more than she ever was and it did upset her:

“It was upsetting because then, the following host, Molly Qerim, in the beginning, they would let Molly talk all the time. Molly could talk and I was told specifically not to talk. The reality is because I was the first, I had to go through things that people didn’t have to go through. I felt a way because I went through it tough because I just wanted to say my opinion.”

Sports TV News

Pat McAfee: Deals With Amazon/ESPN Fell Short Because The Show Comes First

“Energy, time, anything away from this show… we got a lot going on. This is my number one focus and it should remain as such…”

Jordan Bondurant

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Last week, it was announced that Pat McAfee would be hosting his own version of the popular Manning Cast only for college football games.

McAfee, co-host AJ Hawk, and the rest of his cast and crew from The Pat McAfee Show will host an alternate feed for six college football games this season.

McAfee was rumored to be in talks with Amazon about potentially hosting an alternate broadcast for its Thursday NFL games, and the former Colts punter had also reportedly talking with ESPN about potentially being featured on College GameDay.

McAfee said to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post that ultimately the Amazon and GameDay deals didn’t come to fruition because it just didn’t make sense.

“I’ve had great conversations with both companies, we just weren’t able to get to a point where ‘the ask’ and ‘the business’ were where it needed to be to get a deal done on both fronts,” McAfee said.

McAfee on his show on Monday elaborated a bit further, trying to put to bed that he was being courted for Thursday Night Football.

“I’m not 100 percent sure if that’s what we were talking about, by the way,” he said. “I was never really approached for anything for Thursday Night Football. That was never really anything.”

Pat read from the full response to Marchand’s questions, posted under the Post story which appeared on the paper’s site Monday. He reiterated that his daily show and the small business he built around his show, take precedent over anything else.

“Energy, time, anything away from this show, this operation, this crew; we got families being built, we got houses being bought, we got 12 employees, we got a lot going on,” he said. “So this is my number one focus and it should remain as such because I have a brain, and also I care a lot about this operation. I love it, actually.”

Still, McAfee made it clear that just because no deal was signed with ESPN and Amazon for 2022 means the ship has sailed permanently. He’s keeping his doors open.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Reportedly To Lose Big Ten Media Rights For the First Time in 40 Years

The idea is that FOX would have its marquee game kick off at noon, with CBS airing a game at 3:30. NBC reportedly will air games in primetime.

Jordan Bondurant

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BIG TEN, CBS, NBC, FOX SPORTS

After several months, it appears the Big Ten is nearing the finish line on a new media rights deal. And despite still reportedly being in negotiations with the conference, ESPN is looking set to lose out on media rights.

According to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, CBS and NBC are the frontrunners to join with FOX.

The idea is that FOX would have its marquee game kick off at noon, with CBS airing a game at 3:30. NBC reportedly will air games in primetime.

Ourand reported his sources told him ESPN’s deal to keep the Big Ten was not as strong as the one offered by the other two networks.

It would mark the first time in four decades that ESPN didn’t have some involvement in Big Ten sports. But Ourand indicates the worldwide leader could pivot into bundling Big 12 and Pac-12 rights as an alternative. Additionally the network would then pursue keeping its deals with NCAA for championship coverage as well as being the home for the College Football Playoff.

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Sports TV News

Fox Officially Unveils NFL Broadcast Teams

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In what has been considered a formality for some time, Fox today officially unveiled Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, Erin Andrews, and Tom Rinaldi as their number one NFL broadcast team Monday. Burkhardt and Olsen were elevated to Fox’s top booth after the departure of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to ESPN’s Monday Night Football earlier this year.

There were some reports that Drew Brees could have been a possibility to join the network, but those discussions fell apart.

The network’s other teams include several familiar faces to football fans:

#2 team: Joe Davis, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, Pam Oliver
#3 team: Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, Kristina Pink
#4 team: Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma, Shannon Spake
#5 team: Kevin Kugler, Mark Sanchez, Laura Okmin
#6 team: Chris Myers, Robert Smith, Jen Hale

Olsen’s jump to the number one team with Burkhardt is a formality until the retirement of Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady. The seven-time Super Bowl winner will ascend to Fox’s number one booth upon his retirement, whenever that may be.

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