Sports Illustrated Media Awards: The best and worst of 2016
- Selecting the standout people and programs from the year in sports media, plus the duds of the year, quotes of the year and more.
SI.com annually highlights a select group in the sports media who were newsworthy, both for positive and negative reasons. Below are the selections for 2016.
Media Person of the Year
THE PICK: Vin Scully
The last on-air words from the eternal voice of baseball were filled with grace—of course they were. So this is Vin Scully, wishing you a very pleasant good afternoon, wherever you may be. Thus ended Scully’s 67-year run as the voice of the Dodgers. He retired one month before turning 89.
“Vin Scully is only the finest, most-listened-to baseball broadcaster that ever lived, and even that honorific does not approach proper justice to the man,” wrote Tom Verducci in an SI cover story on Scully last May. “He ranks with Walter Cronkite among America’s most-trusted media personalities, with Frank Sinatra and James Earl Jones among its most-iconic voices, and with Mark Twain, Garrison Keillor and Ken Burns among its preeminent storytellers.”
Elegance isn’t something we see often in sports broadcasting these days—the era is more Baylessian than Bard. Scully reminded us, whether real or imagined, of a more peaceful time. We were lucky to have him as long as we did. Wishing you a very pleasant good afternoon, Vin, wherever you may be.
Honorable Mention: Doris Burke (ESPN); Dick Enberg (Padres broadcaster); Kevin Harlan (CBS and Westwood One); Verne Lundquist (CBS), Holly Rowe (ESPN).
Broadcast Team of the Year
THE PICK: Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackedge and Rowe.
The on-air college football shakeup at ESPN over the past 24 months has produced numerous new announcing teams and after all the moves on the broadcast chessboard, Tessitore, Blackledge and Rowe emerged as the best announcing team in college football. My colleagues have written about Tess Effect and along with his propensity to find himself in late-game thrillers, Tessitore is supremely prepared and shares the mic with his colleagues. Blackledge has always been underrated as an analyst, from his days working with Lundquist at CBS. Rowe is a journalist, first and foremost. She leaves the television personality part to others in this position. She’s also an absolute gamer for battling cancer publicly and remaining an infectious spirit.
Honorable Mention: Marv Albert and Chris Webber (TNT); Joe Buck and John Smoltz (Fox); Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and Doris Burke (ABC and ESPN); Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts (CBS); Chris Fowler, John McEnroe and Patrick McEnroe (ESPN); Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines (NBC Olympics); Lundquist and Gary Danielson (CBS); Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth (NBC); John McBeth and Nicole Livingstone (Swimming world broadcast feed for Rio Olympics); Jim Watson, Jonathan Horton and Courtney Kupets Carter (NBC’s streaming coverage of gymnastics); Arlo White and Lee Dixon (NBC).
Analyst of the Year
THE PICK: Ato Boldon and Rowdy Gaines (NBC)
Boldon educates track viewers through his preparation, and when you listen to him, you realize how rare it is to have a sports TV analyst make you a smarter viewer. The high point for me was when Boldon tipped Japan for a medal in the 4x100-meter men’s relay prior to that Olympic race.
"This is a sleeper team,” Boldon said. “They ran an Asian-record 37.68 in their heat, beating Jamaica, and they pass the baton better than anyone else in this field … Some teams practice for a month or a week. Japan has been practicing for the entire year."
The Japan team finished second in a new Asian-record time of 37.60 seconds, just 0.33 behind Usain Bolt and his Jamaica teammates. Gaines’s enthusiasm for his sport blasts through the screen and like Boldon, you come away from a broadcast understanding more about what makes these technicians so great in the pool.
Honorable Mention: Troy Aikman (Fox); Blackledge (ESPN); Hubie Brown (ESPN); Mary Carillo (Tennis Channel); Collinsworth (NBC); Bill Cowher (CBS); Charles Davis (Fox); Fran Fraschilla (ESPN); Kirk Herbstreit (ESPN); Kara Lawson (ESPN); Louis Riddick (ESPN); Smoltz (Fox); Chris Spielman (Fox); Jay Williams (ESPN).
Sports Podcast of the Year
THE PICK: Pardon My Take, Barstool Sports
As podcasting continues to soar in both audience and programming—an estimated 21% of Americans 12 and over say they have listened to podcasts at least once a month, according to survey data from Edison Research—the number of podcast options for sports fans has become massive. No matter your sport or recreation interest, there’s a pod (or hundreds of them) catering to your needs.
Barstool Sports staffer Dan Katz and PFT Commenter (his real identity remains intentionally hidden) co-host an authentic and hilarious NFL-centric pod featuring non-traditional interviews with professional athletes and sports journalists. Much of the pod is a mock on the Berman-ization of NFL coverage in some quarters and it’s a rare listen that combines satire with moments of insight. PMT has deservedly vaulted to the top of the Sports and Rec iTunes charts, topping powerhouses from ESPN and The Ringer. A podcast full of grit.
Honorable Mention: Something To Wrestle With. The pro wrestling space has a number of terrific podcasts (including The Masked Man Show, Art of Wrestling, The Ross Report, and The Steve Austin Show) but this pod hosted by Bruce Prichard (a longtime wrestling producer and personality, most notably as Brother Love in the then-WWF) and Conrad Thompson takes a singular episode or person from wrestling’s past (such as The Montreal Screw Job at the 1997 Survivor Series) and examines it over the course of an hour. Fascinating stuff for WWE fans.
Best Studio Show
THE PICK: MLB Postseason Show (Fox/FS1)
Inside The NBA and College GameDay remain the best studio shows in the marketplace, but Fox deserves the honor this year for successfully marinating Alex Rodriguez, Pete Rose, Frank Thomas and host Kevin Burkhardt into the network’s most-ever interesting sports studio show. Executive producer, Fox Sports vice president of production Bardia Shah-Rais, and the producers of the show, Jon Kaplan and Royce Dickerson, plan discussions for the program but ultimately let the group go where they want to go, which is in the spirit of Inside The NBA and College GameDay. That free-form approach helped the show find its voice and the mixing of Rodriguez and Rose—two of the most polarizing forces in baseball but both baseball wonks—created authenticity in the studio. The highlight of the year was when Fox posted a six-minute-and-26-second video of Rose giving hitting instructions (and telling batting stories) to fellow MLB studio analysts Rodriguez and Thomas. It was remarkable to eavesdrop on three hitters with a combined 9,939 hits, and Fox Sports was rewarded with unheard-of social metrics for a studio show clip. The video recently passed 12 million views on Facebook.
HONORABLE MENTION: College GameDay (ESPN); Premier League Live (NBCSN and NBC); Inside the NBA (TNT).
Best Feature on a Sports Program
THE PICKS: ESPN’s College GameDay feature on LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye and NBC Olympics feature unit on South Africa runner Wayde van Niekerk.
ESPN produced a beautiful feature on Delahoussaye, who survived the crash that killed Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and Michigan State punter Mike Sadler. Tremendous work by producers Nancy Devaney and Jon Fish, and reporter and narrator Tom Rinaldi. NBC provided many layers in a short feature on Niekerk’s amazing story, including his 74-year old coach Ans Botha. Full marks to producer Tom Davidson, editor Will Moss, camera operator Thom McCallum, Vin Guglielmina and Mat Furuta, sound mixer Scott Tipton and narrator Tom Hammond.
Honorable Mention: E:60’s piece on 10-year-old Logan Schoenhardt’s unique bond with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
THE PICK: OJ: Made In America (ESPN)
The most brilliant piece of television this year appeared on ESPN of all places. The network’s ambitious and exhaustive 30 for 30 documentary on O.J. Simpson—O.J.: Made In America—was thrilling and uncompromising filmmaking, clocking in at seven hours and 43 minutes. If you have yet to watch it, the film will make you look at the most famous murder case in United States history with fresh eyes and under a larger prism.
Director Ezra Edelman’s goal was to examine the dual narrative of Simpson’s rise and fall amid the racial climate in the city of Los Angeles, and he succeeded wildly. The principle filmmakers conducted 72 interviews for the film, including key players from the prosecution, Simpson’s defense team, childhood friends of Simpson, jurors from the criminal trial, former LAPD detectives involved in the case, African-American civil rights activists, as well as those who speak for the dead: Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson. Nothing that appeared on television in 2016 was better.
Honorable Mention: Jackie Robinson (PBS); Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing (HBO)
Best Broadcasting Call
The PICK: Kevin Harlan (Westwood One)
The broadcaster who owns the most famous call of 2016 isn’t particularly comfortable with it. Kevin Harlan, working for Westwood One as the radio voice of Monday Night Football, described in epic fashion a man running onto the field during the fourth quarter of a dreadful Niners-Rams game at San Francisco’s Levi's Stadium. Here’s how Harlan’s call began:
“Third and Four, looks into the nickel of San Francisco and the secondary. Hey, somebody has run out onto the field! Some goofball in a hat! And a red shirt! Now he takes off the shirt! He’s running down the middle by the 50! He’s at the 30! He’s barechested and banging his chest!”
“This is my 32nd consecutive year doing the NFL,” said Harlan, whose father, Bob, was a longtime Green Bay Packers executive. “My dad was in the league for three decades. I have grown up in the league, literally, and I would never want to do anything that would cause them the least bit embarrassment or concern. I hold the NFL as close to my heart as I do my family. But I guess now in the aftermath and seeing and hearing and absorbing some of the reaction, I feel like it’s been done and the worst thing would be to do it again. I would not want people thinking I am looking for attention or trying to one-up calls.”
You can understand Harlan’s hesitation in his making too big a deal about the call, but it was great theater and a reminder of the fun and absurdity of sports, even in the often button-downed NFL.
Honorable Mention: Arlo White’s call for NBCSN’s coverage of Neymar’s Olympic soccer-winning penalty kick against Germany.
We leave this award annually (at least as of last year) to the readers. Earlier this week I asked on Twitter who readers believed was the most improved in sports media in 2016. ESPN NFL analyst Ryan Clark received the most votes.
Here are were some of the other responses: Adam Amin (ESPN); Paul Azinger (Fox); Notah Begay (Golf Channel); Chauncey Billups (ESPN); Heather Cox (NBC); Joe Davis (Fox and Dodgers broadcaster); Jamie Erdahl (CBS); Chris Fowler (ESPN); Terry Gannon (NBC); Mike Golic Jr. (ESPN); Jeff Gordon (Fox Sports); Stuart Holden (Fs1); Dan Katz (Barstool Sports); Joel Klatt (Fox); Liam McHugh (NBC); Kyle Martino (NBC); Greg McElroy (ESPN); Wendi Nix (ESPN); Paul Pabst (NBC); Mauro Ranallo (WWE); Alex Rodriguez (Fox); Joe Rogan (MMA); Peter Schrager (NFL Network and Fox); Dan Shulman (ESPN); Shannon Sharpe (Fs1); Marty Smith (ESPN); John Smoltz (Fox); Sarah Spain (ESPN); Kathryn Tappen (NBC). Nick Wright (FS1).
Duds of the Year
(culled, in part, from this year’s media column)
• NFL television ratings. Per Sports Business Daily assistant managing editor Austin Karp, here was the average viewership for the NFL TV partners through Week 15:
• Fox (Sundays and Thanksgiving): 19.6 million viewers, down 6% over 2015.
• CBS (Sundays and Thanksgiving only, excludes TNF package): 18.1 million viewers, down 6% over 2015.
• NBC’s Sunday Night Football (excludes TNF, but includes NFL Kickoff and Thanksgiving): 20.0 million viewers, down 11% over 2015.
• NFL Network games (excludes any TNF games aired on CBS or NBC): 5.8 million viewers, down 23% over 2015.
• ESPN viewership for Monday Night Football has averaged 10.9 million viewers, down 14% from the same point last season.
• For fans of morning television and parades with floats, the Olympic opening ceremony is for you. Objectively, the production came across as choppy given the number of commercials (numerous people on Twitter timed it at one spot every six minutes for the first 40 minutes). Inconceivably, for a program that clocked in at more than four hours, NBC edited out a speech from Kenyan running legend Kip Keino.
• Fox NFL Sunday, the most watched Sunday morning NFL pregame show, dedicated just 90 seconds to Giants kicker Josh Brown during its Oct. 23 show, a stark contrast to its competitors. Police documents released revealed Brown was “physically, verbally and emotionally” abusive to his wife.
• Rare does the graphic package from a sports network become the topic of social media conversation but Turner was severely criticized on social media for not including a pitch count stat during its TBS coverage of the postseason, in addition to some factual mistakes. They eventually reversed course and integrated a pitch count into their Strike Zone graphic.
• CBS had an underwhelming broadcast for Super Bowl 50.
• The ratings for CBS’s Selection Sunday show drew a 3.7 overnight rating, the telecast’s lowest figure since at least 1995 (when the show expanded from 30 minutes to one hour).
• Broadcasters Brooke Weisbrod and Lisa Byington were let go by the WNBA’s Chicago Sky prior to the WNBA season, replaced by two male broadcasters. Weisbrod, in her own words, reflected on why she believes it happened.
• ESPN’s Monday Night Football game between the Saints and Falcons in Week 3 drew 8.047 million viewers on ESPN, the lowest MNF viewership in history. The game went head to head against the first Presidential debate. The previous lowest-ever viewership for a Monday night game, per Sports Media Watch, was 8.449 million for a Saints/Falcons game in 2007.
• Editorial staffers who work for USA Today as well as the owned and operated sites for Gannett (which includes The Big Lead website and For the Win) were warned not to share their political opinions on social media in an email from Patty Michalski, USA Today’s managing editor of digital, standards editor Brent Jones and social media editor Anne Godlasky. From the email: “While personality and conversational language are encouraged, let’s keep in mind that no one outside of those who are paid here to share opinion should express political views on personal social media accounts, even if your account is private and even if you don’t report on politics.”
Given so much of sports is immersed in politics, from Colin Kaepernick’s protest to what Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said about the election, it had to be disheartening to those journalists who work in sports for Gannett or its O&O’s to cede their voice on such important issues.
• Just four and a half months after its debut, HBO canceled the show Any Given Wednesday, fronted by Bill Simmons. The primary reason was obvious: AGW never found a large audience. The website Sports TV Ratings compiled a chart of the show’s first run viewership showing AGW reached a first-run high of 362,000 viewers on June 29 but steadily fell to below 200,000 viewers. The nadir came on Oct. 26, when AGW drew 82,000 viewers against heavy sports competition, including the World Series. “We loved making that show, but unfortunately it never resonated with audiences like we hoped,” Simmons said in a statement. “And that's on me. But I love being a part of HBO's family and look forward to innovating with them on other ambitious programming ideas over these next several years—both for the network and for digital.”
• CBS wrapped up its portion of the Thursday Night Football package and the net’s five broadcasts—including the audience on NFL Network—averaged 14.7 million viewers, per Austin Karp of the Sports Business Daily. That figure was down 16% from 17.6 million viewers for the eight-game CBS Thursday package last year.
• Sports network public relations departments sitting in as their adult executives are being interviewed.
Studs of the Year
(culled, in part, from this year’s media column)
• Verne Lundquist stepped away from college football following the Army-Navy game after 42 years of calling the sport, including the last 17 as the lead broadcaster for the SEC on CBS package. Here is how he signed off for the last time on a college football broadcast:
Lundquist will continue to call the NCAA tournament and the Masters until his body (or CBS) says he cannot.
• The 2016 World Series averaged a 13.1 rating and 23.4 million viewers on Fox, the highest-rated and most-watched World Series since 2004 when the Red Sox defeated the Cardinals in four games (15.8 rating and 25.4 million). Game 7 (40.045 million viewers) was the most-watched baseball game since Game 7 of the 1991 World Series (50.3 million viewers). It peaked at 49.9 million viewers between 11:30 p.m.–11:45 p.m. ET, prior to the rain delay.
• For the first time in its 22-year history, HBO’s Real Sports presents a single-topic, extended investigation, taking a comprehensive look at the powerful and largely unchecked International Olympic Committee. It was terrific sports journalism.
• ESPN2’s His and Hers did a great spoof of Anchorman, featuring many front-facing ESPN people.
Hosts Jemele Hill and Michael Smith also were promoted—which included multi-year, multi-million dollar extensions—to move their brand to the 6:00 p.m. SportsCenter starting in 2017.
• Tony Gambino is not a sports media name you’d recognize, but he was responsible for one of the most memorable moments of Fox’s World Series coverage. A freelance camera operator who has worked the postseason for Fox since 2012, Gambino took this incredible camera shot of Cubs pitcher Aroldis Chapman getting to first base before Francisco Lindor in the seventh inning during Game 6:
“Plays in baseball happen so fast and we as cameramen try to see what's happening on the field, react, frame it correctly, be in focus, all in a moments notice,” Gambino said. “I just saw what was happening on the field and knew the play would be at the bag. And I went for it. “Compared to other sports, baseball is the hardest to shoot because you have no idea what’s going to happen. Plays happen so fast. I knew if I could get to the bag before them, it would look great.”
• Deadspin’s Dave McKenna had an exceptional year of reporting, from stories on sports reporter Colleen Dominguez, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, and a brilliant profile on the late sportswriter, Jennifer Frey.
• There were a number of things that stood out in ABC/ESPN’s coverage of the final minute of Game 7 of the NBA Finals: Analyst Jeff Van Gundy sharply informing viewers that Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue’s substitution of Tristan Thompson for Richard Jefferson with 1:09 left would give the Cavs more space in the open floor—and Kyrie Irving hitting a three-pointer 20 seconds later. On Golden State’s ensuing possession, analyst Mark Jackson noted Kevin Love’s outstanding defense on Steph Curry. (“What a spectacular job by Love,” said Jackson, which you might have missed given the commotion and how loud it was.) Producer Tim Corrigan then went back to replays of Irving’s three-pointer with 10.6 seconds left after LeBron James hit one of two free throws to give Cleveland a 93–89 lead. The replays showed how Curry ended up on Irving (which is what Cleveland wanted), giving viewers a sense of how clutch the shot was. Great work.
• WFAA anchor Dale Hanson, on the shootings in Dallas.
• Honest, raw and powerful television from ESPN MLB analyst Eduardo Perez and Hannah Storm on the death of Jose Fernandez.
• It’s rare to see a sports television outlet profile a person from another network but kudos to ESPN’s E:60 and ESPN management for producing a beautiful feature piece on Ernie Johnson of Turner Sports. Johnson is a rare figure in the sports media business, an ego-free broadcaster who is universally liked by colleagues and competitors. He has overcome cancer, and he and his wife of 32 years Cheryl have four adopted children, including son Michael who was born with a progressive form of muscular dystrophy and lives on a ventilator in his parents’ home.
• The Ringer, whatever you think of the content, is one of the few sports-oriented outlets in 2016 that added editorial staff in significant numbers. In an era of shrinking newsrooms, it is notable, as well as appreciated.
• The Golf Channel aired 23 hours of commercial-free coverage on the passing of Arnold Palmer, including 106 different voices—from on-air staffers to interview subjects—on Palmer’s impact.
• It was fascinating to watch the NFL challenge the New York Times sports department on that outlet’s comprehensive investigative report into the NFL’s research on concussions—and the NYT respond in real time. The Wall Street Journal examined what went down.
• NBC’s Today Show-ization is the least appealing part of the Olympic Games and it imbues far too much of its major coverage. But Al Roker deserved all the plaudits for calling out Billy Bush’s enabling of Ryan Lochte on the air. If nothing else, Roker exposed bro (rhymes with faux)-journalism in a very public way.
• One of the most remarkable sports photos you’ll ever see was taken by DallasNews.com photographer Jae Lee:
• Corrigan, director Jimmy Moore and reporter Lisa Salters opted to report on Warriors forward Draymond Green going off in the locker room during halftime of a Golden State regular season win over Oklahoma City in February, something rightsholders don’t always do given ESPN is a business partner with the NBA. Those relationships are always tricky to navigate for sideline reporters given league offices don’t want dirty laundry aired on the network. This was news—and Salters reported what she heard, which is what good reporters do on the sidelines regularly.
• NBCSN was a joy for hardcore Olympic fans who wanted to experience the Games the way we experience most sports—from start to finish. It was also an oasis when you wanted to get away from the main NBC packaging to discover the best part of the Olympics, which is seeing great athletes you normally never see in sports that feel fresh. Even on the final Sunday, it was great, with full coverage of the mountain bike gold medal race.
• Major props to ESPN for its multi-platform commitment to a story on wrestling teammates from Miami who came to oppose each other in the cocaine wars—one as a drug smuggler, the other as a DEA agent. “Pin Kings” was a 16-part podcast series narrated by the reporters on the piece (Brett Forrest and Jon Fish). The episodes were 20–30 minutes in length and included podcast-exclusive interviews with more than 20 individuals related to the story.
• This was a great Super Bowl opener, produced by CBS Sports creative director Pete Radovich:
• Camera operators are unsung heroes when it comes to the production of sporting events. Last Jan. 8, CBS operator John Pavlovich, who has been with the network since 1998, was in the right corner of Paul Brown Stadium, filming this acrobatic third-quarter grab by Martavis Bryant. Bravo to him for this fine work.
• If you watched the women’s all-around gymnastics Olympic final online, you could toggle between each of the apparatuses or watch the main feed live. Broadcasters Jim Watson, Jonathan Horton and Courtney Kupets Carter provided, in my opinion, much better commentary than the main NBC crew. Listening to them, you felt like you were learning something about the sport.
• When ESPN is at its best, when it marshals its immense resources to educate, entertain, report and make sports viewers smarter, it is an unmatched sports media organization. Such was the case for the network’s covering of the death of Muhammad Ali. The announcement of Ali’s death was made by Los Angeles-based anchors Neil Everett and Stan Verrett at 12:28 a.m. ET Saturday. The network then forged into non-stop, commercial-free coverage from 12:28 a.m. until 4:14 a.m. ET. Think about that: No breaks in nearly four hours of coverage. ESPN then played a taped version of SportsCenter between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. before live coverage resumed from 6 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
• Turner Sports and ESPN coming together to assign Craig Sager to Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
(Highlighting a few of the sports media names who left us in 2016)
• Howard Bingham
Muhammad Ali's personal photographer and a community activist passed away in December. He was 77.
• Ted Brown
The ESPN producer died of a heart attack while in Australia for the network’s coverage of the Australian Open. He was 36.
• Ken Carpenter
The longtime golf journalist passed away in August at age 59.
• Bob Chase
The legendary Fort Wayne Komets hockey broadcaster Bob Chase, passed away in November, at the age of 90. Chase completed 63 seasons as the voice of the Komets radio last year after first arriving in Fort Wayne in 1953. NBC NHL announcer Mike Emrick grew up in La Fontaine, Ind., about 60 miles south of Fort Wayne, and the first hockey game he ever attended came on Dec. 10, 1960, when the Komets hosted the Muskegon Zephyrs. Emrick was 14 and Chase was doing the call. The two soon developed a life-long friendship, which I wrote about for SI.com last year.
• Bud Collins
The veteran sports journalist was a remarkable commentator whose work spanned over decades. SI senior writer S.L. Price, who saw him for decades while covering tennis, wrote a fantastic tribute piece as did assistant managing editor and tennis writer Jon Wertheim.
• Joe Garagiola
The former major league catcher spent 57 years in baseball broadcasting. He passed away at age 90. Here’s an excellent tribute on Garagiola from Marty Noble of MLB.com.
• Jerry Greene
The longtime Orlando sports columnist passed away in April. He was 74.
• Hubert Mizell
The longtime St. Petersburg Times columnist chronicled Tampa Bay’s professional sports rise. He was 76. Here’s a tribute from his paper.
• Craig Sager
The Turner Sports sports broadcaster passed away at 65 of acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive type of cancer first discovered in April 2014. Here’s my piece on how he became the most beloved figure in the NBA.
• John Saunders
The longtime and respected ESPN broadcaster died in August at age 61. Here’s my piece upon learning of his death.
• Drew Sharp
The longtime Detroit Free Press sports columnist, passed away at the too young age of 56. Some memories from his colleagues.
Quotes of the Year
“My agent never got involved. That's how much respect I have for [Turner Sports president] David Levy. David bought two bottles of wine, two bottles of tequila and we killed them. The money at this stage of my life does not matter. At this stage of my life, I’m not concerned about money. I shook David’s hand and said, ‘We got a deal.’ I told my agent, ‘We are not haggling or negotiating. Do the deal.’”
—Charles Barkley, upon re-signing a multi-year deal with Turner.
“So we walked out of the Grand Mercure and hopped in the shuttle. Once in, a middle-aged blonde woman came out. It was Ileana Lochte [the mother of Ryan Lochte]. She was hobbling terribly and looked in great discomfort. We helped her into the shuttle bus and she sat down next to me and our camera gear. The shuttle bus took off. Next stop, the Novotel, was some 3-4 kilometers away. That just so happened to be where we were getting off because we had an interview at Adidas HQ across the road. Shortly into the trip I asked [Ileana] if she was ok. She was clearly struggling with her foot and looked quite distressed. She proceeded to tell me how terrible her stay had been. She’d broken her foot and now her son had been held up at gunpoint. I said ‘That’s terrible? Is he ok?’ She said, ‘Yes, he’s back at the village. I responded ‘Is he an athlete?’ To which she replied: 'Yes, and he is prone to big nights and that sort of stuff’. ‘He has bleached white hair, or grey hair, or blue hair, I don’t really know what it is.’ My cameraman asked, ‘Is your son Ryan Lochte?’ To which she said, ‘Yes, he is.’”
—Fox Sports Australia presenter Ben Way, on breaking the Ryan Lochte story.
“I was expecting at least a small chunk of the ‘I don't want a woman calling a man's game’ reaction, if not the more vicious ‘Get the f---- off my radio’ response. But I can count on one hand the number of tweets I received that fell into either of those categories. On the flip side, I did get multiple tweets saying something to the effect of, ‘I wasn't sure about a woman doing play by play, but you nailed it.’ So, progress? One can hope.”
—KNBR 680 Radio (San Francisco) host Kate Scott, in making her debut as the preseason radio announcer for the Niners.
“I have said we will be fearless but not reckless, We want to be smart, we want to be cool, we want to be thought leaders and not predictable. So hopefully the way we talk about race will be smart. There’s not one way to think about it. There’s not one way to be black. There’s not one way to be white. There’s not one way to be a woman. There’s not one way to be a millennial. Sometimes people might feel they are walking on egg shells when talking about race but it’s is a part of life like religion or any other subject.”
—Kevin Merida, upon taking over The Undefeated website.
“I think their strategy here has been—and frankly this part has worked—they are only getting headlines when they bash ESPN. It is almost never for the quality of what they do. That strategy is fine but at some point there has to be substance behind it. Otherwise, it’s just noise.”
—Burke Magnus, ESPN’s executive vice president for programming and scheduling, on FS1.
“This is another example of the incompetence by the NFL when it comes to handling domestic violence situations. Every year, the NFL hosts security meetings with every single team. They parade one guy after another and talk about their 25-year law enforcement history. They have worked with the FBI. They have worked with the Sherriff’s Department… Yet through all these resources and connections that you have as the National Football League, you couldn’t get anyone in the King County Sherriff’s Department to tell you off-the-record that Josh Brown admitted to beating his wife for years? That’s unacceptable. That’s unacceptable by the National Football League. And it’s lazy.”
—CBS Sports Network NFL analyst London Fletcher, appearing on That Other Pregame Show, on the NFL and Josh Brown.
“To say I’m disappointed in the hiring of Skip Bayless would be an enormous understatement. Clearly, [Fox Sports President of National Networks] Jamie Horowitz and I have a difference of opinion when it comes to building a successful organization. I believe success is achieved by acquiring and developing talented, respected and credible individuals, none of which applies to Skip Bayless.”
—Fox Sports NFL analyst Troy Aikman
“I’m too thick right now. But I did just get a new hip in fairness to my fatness."