1. ESPN has taken one knock after another in recent months. From massive layoffs to losing subscribers thanks to cord cutting to controversies with talent (Hello, Jemele Hill!). But while everyone was fixated on what was going on with Hill over the past couple of weeks, the World Wide Leader pulled off three no-brainer hires that will no doubt have a positive impact on the company. It started last week when ESPN hired Katie Nolan, a story broken here on SI.com. A few days later, it was announced that the creator of Yahoo's "Puck Daddy" blog, Greg Wyshynski, was headed to ESPN to cover the NHL. The hat trick was completed Friday with the official announcement that Barstool Sports' enormously popular duo, Big Cat and PFT were taking their "Pardon My Take" podcast to TV and starting "Barstool Van Talk" on ESPN2 each Tuesday at 1 a.m. ET, beginning Oct. 17.
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that ESPN made a concerted effort to hire younger people with big, loyal fan bases who "get the Internet." Detractors will fixate on how these digital stars will translate to TV, but that would be shortsighted. ESPN made these moves to attract a new audience they were not reaching. This was there way of reaching out to those cord cutters. The world of TV is completely different today then it was a couple of years ago. Ratings matter less and less. There are a billion ways to consume content. ESPN is not banking on millions of people to watch "Barstool Van Talk" at 1 o'clock in the morning. But you can sure as hell bet that the loyal "Pardon My Take" audience will find that show in whatever form it is presented online -- ESPN.com, YouTube, iTunes, BarstoolSports.com, etc. -- and watch it.
The same thing goes for Nolan, whose digital following is extremely impressive. Meanwhile, while I'll be the first to admit I know nothing about the NHL. But I do know as someone who has written a daily Web column for more than 10 years, that Wyshynski is one of the gold standards for bloggers. The audience he built from scratch and maintains today is something to truly respect.
Now, I know there people out there who have an unhealthy hatred of ESPN and won't give them credit no matter what they do and actually think the company is dying, which is laughable, but if you're going to analyze what the company has done the past two weeks objectively, they couldn't have done a better job with its recent hires.
2. This week's Off The Board podcast is a little different than past episodes. Instead of doing a straight interview, I had on the hilarious, Joseph Fauria. The former Lions tight end and I discussed some of the more interesting stories from the past week: A Dolphins coach snorting a "powdery white substance," Eminem's freestyle, the death of AOL's AIM (you really have to hear Fauria talk about how he used AIM as a kid to impress his crushes) and more. I also explained why the podcast I taped earlier this week with Eagles' defensive end Chris Long couldn't run. The show closes with my colleague, Daniel Rapaport joining me for Week 6 picks in the NFL. You can listen to the podcast below or download it on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher.
3. Just when you think Roger Goodell couldn't possibly be any more unlikable, we find out his wife set up a secret Twitter account to defend her husband.
4. The Eagles postgame celebration was, as the kids say, lit, last night. Excellent musical choices, too, by the way.
5. My esteemed colleague and the top media critic in the country, Richard Deitsch, has ranked his top 25 play-by-play broadcasters in sports.
6. Speaking of broadcasters, Tony Romo solidified his standing as the NFL's top analyst in the game with this piece of tomfoolery last night.
7. This video is from 2013, but I had not seen it until this morning, when my colleague, Avi Creditor, sent it to me. I damn near lost my mind. Just hit play and watch for the payoff. I promise you that it's good.
8. RANDOM WRESTLING VIDEO OF THE DAY: Start your weekend with two-and-a-half minutes of glorious botched wrestling promos.
The best of the Internet, plus musings by SI.com writer, Jimmy Traina. Get the link to a new Traina's Thoughts each day by following on Twitter and liking on Facebook. Catch up on previous editions of Traina Thoughts. And check Jimmy Traina's weekly podcast, "Off The Board," on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher.
BONUS ITEM: Chiefs -4 at home against the Steelers seems like free money. Line should be 7.