Sports TV News
Chris Russo Debates Barry Bonds With Stephen A. Smith to Delight of Many
The positive response may have been due to Russo understanding the assignment. Mad Dog will yell back! He called Stephen A. “Stevie”!
If ESPN’s First Take and Stephen A. Smith wanted a heated discussion about the Baseball Hall of Fame 2022 election results, bringing on Chris Russo as a guest was probably the best choice for Wednesday’s show.
Sure, someone like Jeff Passan, Tim Kurkjian, Eduardo Perez, or Doug Glanville could’ve joined Stephen A. and Molly Qerim at the desk for a reasoned, informative discussion. But the volume wouldn’t have been high enough to match Stephen A.
Someone needed to shout back! And there might be no one on TV or radio who can get as loud, as outraged, as indignant as “Mad Dog” Russo. On one side, Stephen A. argues that Barry Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame. Counterpoint from Mad Dog (a San Francisco Giants fan): Bonds should not.
As could’ve been expected, the debate got loud. Those watching at work may have needed to use headphones.
But rather than denounce all the noise, all the yelling, social media and sports media observers appeared to enjoy Stephen A. vs. Mad Dog.
Maybe because the debate only lasted for one six-minute segment, rather than the entirety of the show. But the positive response may also have been due to Russo understanding the assignment. Mad Dog will yell back! He called Stephen A. “Stevie”!
Here’s a sampling of reactions:
Marchand’s view of Russo’s appearance is particularly interesting and not just because he covers sports media for a living. In the new version of First Take with rotating combatants to face Stephen A. at the table, isn’t Russo a capable opponent? No one wants to see a wrestling superstar face a jobber, right? Edge vs. Seth Rollins is a marquee matchup!
Judging by the response from fans on social media, Russo is someone First Take should bring back on a regular basis. Maybe even, as Marchand suggests, one day per week. But maybe not for a whole show, for the sake of our ears and temples.
Ian Casselberry is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously written and edited for Awful Announcing, The Comeback, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. You can find him on Twitter @iancass or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sports TV News
Dan Orlovsky: Stephen A. Smith Allows Me to Be Me on First Take
“He’s not focused on having this intense ‘I’ve got to be right moment’. He just wants to have fun talking football and arguing about sports in general.”
Dan Orlovsky has become a regular presence on ESPN whether it’s calling football games as an analyst or talking about the game on NFL Live, Get Up, or First Take and he loves every job that he gets to do.
Orlovsky was a guest on the most recent episode of GOLF’s SUBPAR with Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz. When he was asked what he likes doing the best out of all of the things he gets to do, he mentioned that it’s a question he gets all the time and he dove into why he loves each of the roles he has.
“I love them all to be honest with you. We get asked that question all the time by executives: What’s your end goal? What do you want to do more of? What do you want to do less of? I always say I love it all. If you get a good live game, it’s nails. There’s nothing that beats a good live game. Really in college football, if you get the right scene, right setting, and get a great game, it’s tough to beat…If you get a good college football or NFL game, those are great.
“First Take is a blast because Stephen A. called me 2 years ago and was like I want to give you Thursdays. Thursday is going to be your day. I think the thing that gave me so much joy in doing Thursdays with Stephen A. is he’s so ‘Go be yourself’. He’s not focused on having this intense ‘I’ve got to be right moment’. He just wants to have fun talking football and arguing about sports in general. I love doing First Take.
“I love doing Get Up because it kind of was where I got started and they’ve given me a lot of creative freedom. NFL Live is my favorite when it comes to I’m with people who I love. Those people are like family to me. That’s where I am my most nerd is NFL Live. I love it all.”
When Orlovsky was discussing more about working with Smith, he talked about how all Smith wants to do is talk sports and that conversations that extend into the commercial break never get personal even though some could view them as awkward.
“One of the first times I did First Take, we were in commercial break and I was sitting there talking to Stephen A. about whatever. All of a sudden when you are on set, someone yells 15 seconds till we are live. Stephen A says what’s the topic?
Live TV comes on and he goes from this casual conversation to performance. I think that’s empowering when you see him do that because that’s part of that show. He takes a ton of pride in it, but it’s not fake. It’s just who he is in that moment. He’s not overly sensitive. He’s never going to get defensive about stuff. He just literally wants to chop it up and argue and disagree and have entertaining sports conversations. It could be viewed as awkward, but it’s never personal.”
When Orlovsky first became a part of the media, he told Knost and Stoltz he learned the power of making a list and that when coming up with a Top 5, it should be something that generates conversation.
“I learned early on in this business lists are supposed to be disagreed upon. If you make a list and everyone’s like ‘I kind of agree’, it’s boring. I am aware when I make lists of trying to make something that is going to generate conversation, generate disagreement. I’m not going to make a list that I don’t think is accurate or don’t think is something I stand by. I’ve had guys reach out to me and be like ‘What the heck is this all about?’. I have had agents text me. They text me all the time saying ‘What are you doing? You are driving value’.
“I am aware I am on ESPN a ton. I try to be very conscious of that as well. I have had guys and agents reach out a bunch, but I have to do my job the best I can.”
Even though Orlovsky had a solid career as a backup in the NFL, he said that he is having more fun now because of the success that he is having.
“I am better at this than I was as a player. Once you settle into that role, it’s really cool as a backup, but you don’t have any competitive release though. You do all the work as everyone else, but you don’t get to go out on Sundays and prove that work was worth it. I love doing this now because there’s an aspect of taking immense pride in trying to find something that you can be really good at after you were really good at something…It’s another opportunity to find a way to be really good at something and have that as a daily challenge.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.
Sports TV News
Sean McManus: LIV Golfers Won’t Get Different Treatment During The Masters
“We’re not gonna put our heads in the sand.”
CBS Sports is preparing for coverage of its 68th consecutive year of The Masters, but the 2023 event could prove to be unlike any before it, and CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus is cognizant of the situation.
After several former Masters champions departed the PGA Tour for the upstart LIV Golf, many pondered what that meant for the sport’s major championships. The Masters decided to continue to allow the golfers who are now playing exclusively with the Saudi-backed league to compete for the green jacket. McManus shared that CBS will continue the showcase the golfers as it always has.
“We’re not gonna cover up or hide anything,” McManus said, as reported by Golf Digest. “As I’ve said so often, our job is to cover the golf tournament. We’re not gonna show any different treatment for the golfers who have played on the LIV tour than we do the other golfers. And if there’s a pertinent point or something that we need to, or we feel that we should bring up in our coverage on Saturday and Sunday, or on our other coverage throughout the week, you know, we’re not gonna put our heads in the sand.
“Having said that, unless it really affects the story that’s taking place on the golf course, we’re not gonna go out of our way to cover it. I’m not sure there’s anything that we could add to the story as it already exists. We’ll cover it as, as is suitable.”
Sports TV News
NFL Owners Not Voting on Flex Scheduling For Thursday Night Football
“The owners have simply decided to wait until May to make their decision.”
Amazon will have to wait for flex scheduling. NFL owners decided to table a proposal that would allow the league to create more compelling matchups for Thursday Night Football later in the season.
That doesn’t mean flex scheduling won’t be a reality on Thursday nights this season. The owners have simply decided to wait until May to make their decision.
Earlier this week, Peter King of NBC Sports reported that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is pushing the idea. Coaches have been outspoken about how much they dislike it, complaining about managing injuries and the competitive disadvantage that would come with finding out you suddenly have a shorter week of preparation than expected. According to King, Goodell is trying to make Amazon happy after the first season of Thursday Night Football failed to deliver projected audience numbers for Prime Video.
League owners did take a step they hope will lead to fewer games between losing teams. Last season, teams could only be scheduled once for a Thursday night game. The owners decided to bump that limit up to twice per season.
Goodell defended the proposal against accusations that the league is prioritizing revenue over player safety.
“We always look at the data with respect to injuries,” he told the media gathered at the league meetings. “That is what drove our decisions throughout the first 12 or so years of Thursday Night Football and how it’s evolved. I think the data was very clear: it doesn’t show a higher injury rate. But we recognize shorter weeks. We went through this with COVID, too.”
When the idea of flex scheduling is revisited in May, it will require the support of 24 team owners in order to become a reality.