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John Skipper Reveals Biggest Regrets Of ESPN Career

“The first event that Skipper mentioned that he regretted was losing the rights to the World Cup.”

Ricky Keeler

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Despite all the great things that John Skipper did as president of ESPN from 2012-2017, it is normal for people to have regrets or wonder what could have happened if certain decisions were made. 

On Part 3 of South Beach Sessions on Le Batard and FriendsDan Le Batard and Skipper examined some of those possible regrets as part of what is now a 4-part series.

The first event that Skipper mentioned that he regretted was losing the rights to the World Cup. ESPN had the rights to the World Cup in 2010 and 2014, but eventually FOX won the rights to soccer’s premiere event from 2018-2026. Here is what Skipper had to say about that process: 

“I regret losing the World Cup. One of my proudest accomplishments was getting the World Cup for 2010 and 2014 just three weeks into my job as chief content officer. I did see that the World Cup was going to become a huge event in the United States. To me, it is the world’s greatest sporting event. I wanted to give it its due on the air on ESPN, which we did. We lost it and it is now on FOX.” 

Skipper also addressed the corruption that was going on at FIFA and how he thought the bidding process was not fair.

“I used to say about Sepp Blatter that the fact that his first name is short for septic and his second name is a receptacle for urine should tell you all you need to know about him and how he runs FIFA.

“FIFA was a dramatically corrupt organization. Indeed, people had been indicted for what had gone on in that process. I don’t think it was a fair bidding process for the 2018-2026 rights. I do not believe we lost in a fair manner. However, I still regret not figuring out how to overcome that. If somebody had said to me if you bribe this person, you would have got it. I would have said no.” 

Skipper also mentioned that he regretted losing out on the rights to the NHL while acknowledging that NBC has been a good place for the NHL. He later went in-depth on that possible negotiation towards the end of the podcast: 

“I’ve mentioned before, but another real disappointment was I was working with John Collins (NHL’s chief operating officer at the time) on the NHL deal and I thought we were quite close, we made a very aggressive bid. I expected to hear back from John that we could get there if you can sweeten this a little bit. John called me and said we decided to renew with NBC. It still stings a little bit. I was a pretty relentless negotiator and that was one where I thought I worked hard, I did the right thing, and it just didn’t happen. It was the right decision for them, but disappointing for me.”

Throughout Part 3, you will hear how Skipper became the president at ESPN in part to an answer he gave on an annual review, how he negotiated the NBA deal and the College Football playoff deal, and why the idea of ESPN The Phone just did not work. 

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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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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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