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Networks Trying to Fill NFL Broadcast Booth Openings

Brandon Contes

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It was a busy weekend for TV networks trying to recruit former NFL players and coaches. Over the past few days, reports have Jason Witten heading to the Monday Night Football booth, Bruce Arians to CBS and Jay Cutler returning to FOX.

On Friday, Chris Mortenson reported Jason Witten would retire from football and join ESPN to fill the MNF void left by Jon Gruden. This represented an about-face for Witten, who just recently spoke of plans to continue his playing career for multiple seasons.

“There’s been a lot of things said over the years, especially the last few months,” Witten told Clarence Hill of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram just two weeks ago. “I guess that’s what happens when you get old. Maybe one day that will happen, but hopefully I can play until I’m 40 like some of these other guys. I’ll take it one day at a time. My plan is to be here with the Cowboys. Absolutely.”

Jerry Jones responded to Mortenson’s report over the weekend stating, “He has not made any decisions that are definite at this time.”

“He has some things to think about and discuss with his family from a professional perspective. He also told me that those things are going to require a few more days of consideration, at least through the weekend,” said the owner of the Dallas Cowboys.

Additionally, Ian Rapaport reported Jay Cutler will retire from the NFL for the second year in a row. Last season, Cutler was set to partner with Kevin Burkhardt of FOX before the Dolphins desperately requested he return to the NFL after quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s season ending injury. While rejoining FOX is on the table, according to Rapaport, Cutler also “may be coming to a reality show near you, as will his wife [former Laguna Beachstar Kristin Cavallari].”

More definitive than the future of both Witten and Cutler, is the report sending Bruce Arians to CBS Sports. According to Richard Deitsch of The Athletic, Arians will join Greg Gumbel and Trent Green to form a three-person booth for the upcoming NFL season.

Arians, who retired from coaching in January, quickly expressed his desire to remain involved with the game. Arians cited the little broadcasting experience he has, covering Pennsylvania high school championship games in the late 80s.

“I loved it,” Arians told Josh Weinfuss, Arizona Cardinals writer for ESPN, regarding his brief tenure on television. “I went down and moms are crying, and I’m interviewing the moms on the field. I said, ‘You guys get paid to do this s—? This is fun.’ It’s always been in the back of my mind.”

Witten will most likely make a final decision on his NFL future this week, with an announcement from CBS regarding Arians joining their football coverage expected soon as well.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

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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Ryan Clark, Mad Dog Get Into Heated Argument on ‘First Take’

“Mad Dog, stop screaming at me now, bro. For the last time, you’re gonna stop screaming at me,” Clark interrupted.

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Former Pittsburgh Steeler, and current ESPN NFL analyst Ryan Clark and recent Radio Hall of Fame inductee Chris “Mad Dog” Russo squared off on Monday’s edition of First Take, with a heated exchange taking place between the two.

After a discussion about Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas meandered into a discussion about whether Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp would be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame if he never played another game, Clark said about Hall of Fame voters “they must be voting like you (Russo) vote for the Heisman, where you just vote on whoever the hell you want based off the fact that they play quarterback”.

Russo quickly took exception to the perceived slight.

“Ryan, hold on now,” Russo said, in a louder manner than normal. “You said something, now I’m going to comment. I’ve been voting for the Heisman since before you were born.”

“Mad Dog, stop screaming at me now, bro. For the last time, you’re gonna stop screaming at me,” Clark interrupted.

“You said something that wasn’t right,” Russo said.

“Lower your voice,” the former Steeler interrupted again.

“I’ve been voting for the Heisman since before you were born,” Mad Dog reiterated, with a lower volume. “30 years.”

“I don’t care about that,” Clark rebutted.

“You’re saying I’m voting for the Heisman and saying I don’t deserve a vote. I’ve been voting for 30 years!”, Russo began to raise his voice again.

“I never said you don’t deserve a vote,” Clark replied before clarifying he disagrees with Russo’s sentiment about the college football award being only awarded to quarterbacks.

It’s not the first time Russo has clashed with First Take contributors. A discussion with J.J. Reddick went viral earlier this year after Reddick told Russo previous NBA players played with “plumbers and firefighters”.

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Sports TV News

Todd Frazier Joining ESPN Little League World Series Booth

It will be a memorable summer for Fraizer at the LLWS because he will be inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence. 

Ricky Keeler

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When people talk about 11-year MLB veteran Todd Frazier, some of the things that are usually mentioned on broadcasts usually is that he is from Toms River, New Jersey and that he played in the Little League World Series in 1998 (won the championship). Now, Frazier will have a bigger connection to the annual event in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

As first reported by Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati EnquirerFrazier will be in the TV booth (remotely) for ESPN for this year’s Little League World Series. He made his broadcast debut on Monday morning during one of the New England region semifinals between Maine and Massachusetts. 

Frazier told Nightengale that he wants to use this event to begin his second career in the broadcasting industry.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, especially for the Little League World Series since I’ve been a part of it. I know it and understand it really well. Kind of kickstart my second career here.” 

It will be a memorable summer for Fraizer at the LLWS because he will be inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence. 

The Little League World Series begins on Wednesday, August 17 and ends on Sunday, August 28. It will be broadcasted on ESPN and ABC.  

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