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Dick Vitale Memorializes Late ESPN Colleague Jim Valvano In ESPYs Speech

“Jimmy’s dream was to beat cancer. But we must do it because it doesn’t discriminate. It comes after all.”

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Dick Vitale was the rightful recipient of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance Wednesday night at the annual ESPY Awards. He used his time on stage to thank and honor his friend and former colleague Jim Valvano, for whom the award is named.

Valvano’s speech at the inaugural ESPY ceremony in 1993 is credited with putting the event on the map. It is also the moment that the former NC State basketball coach and ESPN launched the Jimmy V Foundation, which raises money for cancer research.

“When he got up on that stage I was mesmerized, blown away as he electrified the nation,” Vitale told the crowd on Wednesday night.

Since its launch, the Jimmy V Foundation has raised over $300 million. Vitale told the crowd that the number is impressive and worth celebrating, but it isn’t enough.

“We are not going to stop, stop chasing the dream of raising dollars,” he said. “Jimmy’s dream was to beat cancer. But we must do it because it doesn’t discriminate. It comes after all.”

Dick Vitale missed the majority of the last college basketball season as he battled a number of ailments. He survived both lymphoma and melanoma and also was left silent for weeks as he recovered from surgery to treat dysplasia and ulcerated lesions on his vocal cords.

Fans and colleagues shared well-wishes, tributes, and messages of support with Dickie V during that time. He acknowledged that when you spend as much time in the hospital as he did, it is that kind of support that motivates you to keep going and to get well.

He closed his speech by asking anyone that had been personally affected by cancer in some way to stand up. With the vast majority of people in the room standing, Vitale told the audience that cancer can be devastating and it clearly does not discriminate.

“There’s only one way to beat it, my friends, we have to raise dollars and give oncologists a fighting chance.”

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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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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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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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