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ESPN Apologizes for Using ‘Dixie’ in Playoff Graphic

“That song was used as a Confederate marching song during the Civil War, and has been used in recent years by some white supremacist groups in the same way.”

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One of sports Twitter’s more popular memes and parody accounts is Captain Andrew Luck. The account plays on the fact that Luck bears a striking resemblance to photos of soldiers from the Civil War, and often composes “letters home” to his dear mother about what is happening “on the battlefield.”

ESPN decided to lean into the meme with a graphic during the Colts’ playoff win in Houston. The graphic showed “Captain Andrew Luck” dressed in the blue uniform Union troops wore during the civil war and was meant to show just how effective the Colts’ offensive line has been this season.

The network ran into some pushback for showing some of those linemen dressed in gray Confederate uniforms. Even more problematic was the use of the song “Dixie” as a bed for the graphic. That song was used as a Confederate marching song during the Civil War, and has been used in recent years by some white supremacist groups in the same way.

There is a lot wrong with the graphic obviously. It’s hard to imagine Confederate and Union forces working together to protect anyone. It also ignores the fact that the Colts wear blue and are in a state that fought for the Union, while their opponents were from Texas, which was on the side of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News asked ESPN why the song was used and he was told the version that was approved did not include the song.

“Dixie” was not part of the graphic when the piece was initially produced and approved, a source told SN. Instead, the song was dropped into the piece at the last moment by a staffer in the production truck. A source said ESPN addressed the issue with the staffer, but would not elaborate on the outcome.
“It was a mistake to use this song. We regret having done so and we apologize,” said ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz in a statement to SN.

Michael McCarthy, The Sporting News

Sports TV News

Robert Griffin III Replaces Randy Moss on Monday Night Countdown

The network announced the addition of Robert Griffin III to the pre-game program.

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Robert Griffin III
David Becker, Getty Images

With Monday Night Countdown set to lead into Thursday’s preseason matchup with the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks, ESPN announced their lineup for the show.

The network announced the addition of Robert Griffin III to the pre-game program. Robert Griffin III will join Booger McFarland and Steve Young as the show’s main analysts.

They will be partnered with Suzy Kolber who returns for her sixth year as the show’s host and news breaker Adam Schefter.

It was reported in July that analyst Randy Moss would not be returning to the show, opting instead to focus solely on Sunday Night Countdown.

The first regular season action featuring Monday Night Countdown will be on Monday, September 12 when the Seahawks play the Denver Broncos.

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Sports TV News

Leafs Nation Network, the Toronto Maple Leafs Channel, Is Going Off the Air

“Thank you for your viewership. As of Sept. 1, Leafs Nation Network TV services will no longer be on air.”

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The Toronto Maple Leafs launched Leafs TV, a team-specific specialty channel in 2001 and rebranded it as Leafs Nation Network in 2017. However, after nearly twenty-one years on the air, it will fade to black at the end of August.

“Thank you for your viewership,” the channel told viewers who have tuned in recently. “As of Sept. 1, Leafs Nation Network TV services will no longer be on air.”

The news was confirmed to the Sun. Staff said they had been informed of the news a few weeks ago however few jobs are expected to be lost, of any, as many of the LNN duties will be moved to the digital format.

Leafs TV was part of the sale of the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise sale in 2011 to Bell-Rogers communications (worth $1.32 billion). With that sale, Leafs TV began to become a “redundant” channel focusing mainly on classic games and interviews once Rogers made a 2014 deal to become the dominant NHL network, grabbing the majority of live programming.

“Leafs TV was a big bargaining chip at the time of the (Rogers-Bell sale), but they’ve come to see that (lack of game broadcast presence) doesn’t work,” a source told the Sun.

A statement from MLSE on Tuesday read in part: “With new and increasing opportunities to share content on its digital platforms, subscribers to the Leafs Nation Network were informed earlier this month that the channel would cease being broadcast on Sept. 1. Maple Leafs game day and practice coverage will continue to be shared across the team’s digital platforms, combined with exciting new content on the team’s social and digital channels. The team will continue to produce live Marlies home games with details being shared in the weeks ahead about where those broadcasts will be made available.”

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Sports TV News

Stephen A. Smith Says He Wants Mike Francesa on First Take

Russo smiled and chirped back, ““You can’t beat me, you’re never gonna beat him.”

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Stephen A. Smith, Mike Francesa

Stephen A. Smith seems to be looking to debate every major media personality with big opinions and he has set his eyes on Mike Francesa.

Smith was on First Take on Wednesday with weekly guest Chris “Mad Dog” Russo and chastising Russo for being upset with Aaron Rodgers calling out his wide receivers. That’s when Smith brought up the former WFAN tandem of Mike and the Mad Dog.

“The thing that disappoints me about you,” Smith said to Russo, “you’re upset with honesty. You are not only hosting your own radio show, you have your own channel.”

Smith continued, “You are one of the pioneers if not THE pioneer with Mike Francesa, who, by the way, I got to get him on this show one day too, with you. You understand what I’m saying? I mean it would be my honor to have Mike Francesa too.”

Russo smiled and chirped back, ““You can’t beat me, you’re never gonna beat him.”

Smith returned once more with “I ain’t scared. I’m never gonna beat him, but I’ll try, damn it.”

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