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Alexi Lalas: Chad Johnson Has ‘Immersed Himself’ In Preparation For FOX Role at World Cup

“When he was talking to us about the opportunity that he was getting to go to the World Cup, it was as if he had won the Super Bowl.”

Ricky Keeler

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The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar begins Sunday morning on FS1 and FOX. Both will have full coverage of the event from the opening kickoff until the final on December 18. The lead play-by-play announcer John Strong and studio analyst/former USA Men’s National player Alexi Lalas have been doing a lot of prep leading up to the event, but as Strong told Jason Wormser on The Wormcast: How Sports Media Happens podcast last week, not all of the prep might get used as the tournament goes on such as the following anecdote.

“Wonderful anecdote about Australia. One of their long-time center backs dropped from the team knowing he was going to be a backup in favor of some younger players. One of the things that makes that extra-surprising is the fact that he is the son-in-law of the head coach. The odds that that anecdote makes air is very, very slim.

“I have Australia-France. The odds that we are talking much in-depth about Australia’s defensive depth chart is probably slim, but you have it there just in case. As the tournament goes on, that type of prep that you have done becomes even less relevant because it is not about big-picture storytelling anymore as much as just what’s happened in the tournament so far.”

It will be a busy event for Strong and color commentator/former US Men’s National Team player Stu Holden because of how many games there are each day in the group stage, so Strong has had to prepare for a lot of teams

“Of those first 17 days of the tournament, our expectation (Stu Holden and I) is we will be calling games on 15 of those days….I’m preparing for 18 different teams that I will be calling in the group stage.”

While FOX and FS1 will have plenty of coverage of Team USA, Lalas said that there is a responsibility to talk about the other countries in the event as well.

“This is as big as it gets and this is international and we want to do it justice. Obviously, we have the US Men’s National Team back. That makes a huge difference. We will focus on that as we should, but we also have a responsibility to everybody and making sure that people come into that tent, even if it’s their first time or if they are coming in from other teams that we give them the steady diet. It’s day in and day out and we are just churning it out in the best possible way.”

Joining the World Cup crew for FOX this year as a studio analyst is former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson — formerly known as Chad Ochocinco — and Lalas said that Johnson had an extreme level of excitement when talking about being part of the coverage.

“Someone like Chad Ochocinco who is coming to join us too. When he was talking to us about the opportunity that he was getting to go to the World Cup, it was as if he had won the Super Bowl. This guy loves the game and he has immersed himself in the game.”

With the uniqueness of this World Cup, Lalas said that just as there is a good chance a star could emerge on-the-field during the World Cup, it can happen to a media personality off-the-field as well.

“I think you will see some really interesting personalities that maybe you have seen before, but see them maybe in a different light working for FOX in the way that we do things and you will see some new faces and new voices that will be introduced to you that inevitably stars are created in the World Cup on the field and stars are created in the World Cup off the field.” 

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Sports TV News

Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handles Games ‘On Any Stage’

“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

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Greg Olsen

Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen are on tap to call Super Bowl LVII in February, and Olsen told Front Office Sports he has the confidence to announce the game with no hesitations.

“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”

Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.

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St. Louis Cardinals Announcer Dan McLaughlin Charged With Third DWI

It is the third time McLaughlin has been charged with DWI. He was charged with the offense twice within 13 months in 2010 and 2011.

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Dan McLaughlin

St. Louis Cardinals television play-by-play announcer Dan McLaughlin has been charged with DWI after being arrested on Sunday in Creve Coeur, Missouri.

According to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, police received at least two phone calls from concerned drivers that a white BMW was driving erratically, with one caller saying it was driving into oncoming traffic.

It is the third time McLaughlin has been charged with DWI. He was charged with the offense twice within 13 months in 2010 and 2011.

Bally Sports Midwest and the released a joint statement Monday.

“We have been made aware that Dan McLaughlin was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated on Sunday night.. We are very disappointed to hear this, and are working to gather additional information before offering further comment.”

McLaughlin, 48, has served as the voice of the Cardinals for 24 years.

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NFL Flex Scheduling Forces ESPN To Change Bowl Schedule

Jordan Bondurant

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The NFL flex scheduling an upcoming Las Vegas Radiers game out of Sunday Night Football on December 18 has forced ESPN to make a slight adjustment with its college bowl season schedule. But the change was something the worldwide leader was prepared to make.

The Raiders were originally scheduled to play the New England Patriots in the primetime window a week before Christmas, but with both teams losing ground in terms of the AFC playoff picture, NBC opted to go with a different game that night instead. Now fans will be tuning in to see the rematch between the New York Giants and the Washington Commanders.

The shift out of the Sunday night window for the Raiders forced ESPN to swap kickoff times for the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl the day before on December 17. Florida and Oregon State will play in Vegas at 2:30 p.m. eastern, with BYU and SMU facing off in Albuquerque at 7:30 p.m.

The switch allows workers at Allegiant Stadium in Vegas enough time to switch the venue over from college bowl game to Raiders home game.

“We are accustomed to flexibility and we anticipated having to maneuver our event schedules based on the possibility of the Raiders game being flexed,” said ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby.

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