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Monday Night Football Director: Covering Rams Makes Me Uncomfortable

“You have to be really diligent when you are doing replays, how many replays you are doing, and trying to get out of those replays and not miss a snap.”

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Monday night’s NFL Wild Card playoff game between the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams is a big one for ESPN.

It’s the first time a playoff game has been broadcast on Monday night, providing a showcase for the network’s Monday Night Football crew of Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick. Additionally, ESPN’s alternate “ManningCast” with Peyton and Eli Manning will also cover the Cardinals-Rams game, putting arguably the biggest sports media story of the 2021 NFL season under the spotlight.

But Monday Night Football director Jimmy Platt is uncomfortable about covering the Rams for reasons other than the increased national spotlight. As he explained to Sport Video Group’s Brandon Costa, the varying styles and tempos of head coach Sean McVay’s offense is what has Platt unsettled going into the game.

“[The Rams] mix tempo well and do a lot of interesting things,” Platt told Costa. “Sometimes, when they break the huddle, they sprint to the line and snap it; [other times,] they’ll sprint to the line and check into another play. With them, you have to be really diligent when you are doing replays, how many replays you are doing, and trying to get out of those replays and not miss a snap. The Rams make me very uncomfortable.”

So Platt, who’s been the MNF director since 2019, and his production team might have an idea of how opposing defenses feel when they face the Rams.

As Platt puts it, the crew has to emphasize being smart and doing less while keeping up with the Rams’ offense. Most of the time, the production might try to get another replay in before the next play starts. But if they’re back to live coverage by the time quarterback Matthew Stafford breaks the huddle, that’s considered a victory.

Costa has more on the MNF production’s plans for the telecast, including how many cameras will be used and which players will get isolated coverage throughout the game. It’s something to keep in mind while watching the broadcast.

ESPN’s Monday Night Football coverage of the Cardinals-Rams NFL Wild Card playoff game begins at 6 p.m. ET with Monday Night Countdown. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET. The ManningCast will be on ESPN2 and ESPN+.

Sports TV News

Stugotz: ‘Sean McDonough Hates The Aaron Judge Cut-Ins’

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the interest, if you look at the revenue that it generates for the networks, it makes more sense to have an Aaron Judge at-bat interrupted by an Iowa State field goal attempt than it does the other way around.”

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College football fans are not being shy with how they feel about Aaron Judge. Whether it is private conversations or social media posts, people are making their disdain for the cut-ins to college football games on ESPN networks when the Yankee slugger comes to bat known. On Monday morning, Stugotz added that it isn’t just fans that are unhappy.

The Dan Le Batard Show discussed the second straight week of cut-ins on Monday morning. Stugotz pointed out that one of ESPN’s primary college football voices sounds just as annoyed as fans are.

“Sean McDonough hates the toss to Aaron Judge,” he said. Hates it!”

Last week, ESPN and ABC cut into games when Judge was sitting on 60 home runs. This week, he was sitting on 61. A 62nd home run would be the most in American League history.

Stugotz added that has to be part of McDonough’s frustration.

“In his defense, what are we cutting in for? I have no idea if [Aaron Judge] is breaking a record, what record he’s breaking, if he’s clean. I have no idea!”

Producer Mike Ryan Ruiz said the fact that Judge is yet to deliver is making the cut-ins more frustrating for fans.

“I think what hurts the whole thing is that Aaron Judge has been terrible during these cut-ins,” Ruiz said. “He’s been God awful during these cut-ins. I haven’t seen a single home runs during one of these cut-ins. There was genuine fury at a watch party I was at. Fury! At Aaron Judge.”

A popular criticism of ESPN has been that this kind of attention would not be paid to Aaron Judge if he was chasing a mark that wasn’t the home run record if he played anywhere other than New York. According to Ryan, the mistake is bigger than that. Why would regular season baseball ever interrupt college football?

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the interest, if you look at the revenue that it generates for the networks, it makes more sense to have an Aaron Judge at-bat interrupted by an Iowa State field goal attempt than it does the other way around.”

There are four games left in Major League Baseball’s regular season. You can bet college football fans will make plenty of signs for College GameDay if Judge cannot hit number 62 before the playoffs start.

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Sports TV News

Terry Bradshaw Is Cancer Free

Bradshaw’s candor comes after struggling through a sentence during the September 25th edition of the show, in which Howie Long helped finish his sentence.

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During FOX NFL Sunday, Terry Bradshaw revealed he was diagnosed with two different forms of cancer in the last year.

However, after surgeries and treatments, Bradshaw said he is now cancer free.

The Pro Football Hall of Famer said he was diagnosed with bladder cancer in November of last year and surgery and treatments removed the cancer. Then, in March of this year, a tumor was found on the left-side of his neck. Bradshaw called it a “Merkel cell tumor”, which he had removed.

Bradshaw’s candor comes after struggling through a sentence during the September 25th edition of the show, in which Howie Long helped finish his sentence.

The 74-year-old has worked on FOX NFL Sunday since its inception in 1994. He will be inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame later this year.

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Sports TV News

Scott Van Pelt’s ‘Bad Beats’ Becoming 30-Minute Monthly Show

Van Pelt, alongside “Stanford Steve” Coughlin, recaps the toughest losses suffered by sports gamblers with unconventional final moments and unexpected outcomes as it pertains to the over/under or point spread.

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The popular “Bad Beats” segment from SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt is being turned into a monthly half-hour show on ESPN.

Van Pelt, alongside “Stanford Steve” Coughlin, recaps the toughest losses suffered by sports gamblers with unconventional final moments and unexpected outcomes as it pertains to the over/under or point spread, otherwise known as a “bad beat”. Generally, the segment lasts around 5-10 minutes. ESPN will repurpose the content from the show to package it into a half-hour edition.

The new monthly show debuted yesterday at 5:30 PM ET on ESPN.

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