Barstool's Big Cat and PFT say ESPN never should've aired show canceled after one episode.

By Jimmy Traina
October 25, 2017

The hosts of the Pardon My Take podcast and now-canceled ESPN show Barstool Van Talk, Big Cat and PFT Commenter, opened up about the whirlwind week that saw their show come and go amid controversy.

Hours before Barstool Van Talk was to make its debut on ESPN2 last Tuesday, NFL Sunday Countdown host Sam Ponder took to Twitter to complain about her network joining forces with Barstool Sports. She then posted things that were said about her by some Barstool hosts, but not Big Cat. That led to Barstool firing back and digging up many unflattering tweets that Ponder had sent out a few years ago. 

The show still launched and drew 88,000 viewers. However, the day before episode No. 2 was going to air, ESPN President John Skipper pulled the plug, saying that the company couldn't distance itself from Barstool's brand. 

Big Cat and PFT addressed all of this in the newest episode of Pardon My Take, which was released Tuesday morning. Here are some highlights:

Big Cat: "We’re very disappointed. I’d say it’s a combination of disappointment, heartbreak and embarrassment. I know embarrassment sounds ridiculous, but we were very excited and it was never our dream to be on TV, never something like, 'We have to be on TV.' It was something that was kind of presented to us and we thought it was gonna be a really cool opportunity to give you guys more content, different content. So to have that kind of ripped from us, it sucks. There’s not sugarcoating it. It f---ing sucks."

PFT: "There’s some anger, but to touch on what you said about embarrassment, we’re not embarrassed about the product we put out there. We’re not embarrassed about what we did leading up to the show to try and get it on the air. We’re not embarrassed about really anything that has to do with the content of the show. It mostly just the fact of, my mom called me yesterday and said, 'I heard your show got canceled after one week.' That’s kind of embarrassing as a person."

PFT: "It started eight months ago, back in March. ESPN came to [Barstool Sports CEO] Erika [Nardini] and said they were interested in Pardon My Take. They have enjoyed our show, they sent a lot of their talent over to us in the last year or so to do interviews. They wanted myself, Big Cat and Hank to put together a Pardon My Take show. We went back and forth. It was a pretty cool thing to have this opportunity come to you where ESPN’s like, “Hey we want you to do a television show.” Sounds like a good opportunity to branch out a little and try something fun. As the summer went on, things got closer to actually happening. In the last two weeks or so, the name change got suggested from Pardon My Take to Barstool Van Talk. I’ll be honest. I was against the name change. I thought Pardon My Take made sense from a branding standpoint from what we’ve build right here to bring our audience over to television. I thought it made all the sense in the world to keep the show’s name as Pardon My Take. [Barstool Sports founder] Dave [Portnoy] felt otherwise. You probably see his point more than I do."

Big Cat: "Yeah, I agree with Dave on that point because this was never a deal that was going to get us a million dollars. The deal was to get more eyeballs. Barstool’s never been on TV. We did a Comedy Central run that was a four-episode special. This was a 20-week deal. We were supposed to be on ESPN2 until late February. We all knew it was probably gonna cause some problems, but I understood it."

PFT: "We disagree on that part about the name. I saw that as a pretty clear sign there was gonna be some significant backlash."

Big Cat: "And there was. Obviously everyone knows Sam Ponder tweeted that stuff out. It caused an entire s---storm. People began the whole let’s find what someone said in the past, which, for the record, I think is bull----. I’ve said many things that I’m sure that if you showed to me today, I’d be like, “Eh, probably not the best." But more than one tweet, or one word you’ve said, you should be judged by the totality of everything you’ve done and I will stand by everything I’ve done at Barstool. I’ll stand by the platform that it’s given me, I’ll stand by the audience I’ve built. None of that is changing. I did listen to the Pick 'Em [show] that Dave and I did when he called her a s---. I think looking back on it, it was stupid and I apologize for that word. I apologize for laughing. But I think the rest of the rant was kind of, that’s what we do. We make fun of everything. It was all in context of what we do. When you take something from 2014, take it out, rip it out its context, put it in 2017, things are not gonna look great all the time. At the end of the day, what sucked was that it became an entire controversy we couldn’t talk because the show was on thin ice and any word that we said could basically jeopardize it. And all we cared about in this room was getting you guys the show. So my silence on Twitter… I literally was just trying to get the show out."

Big Cat: "Looking back on it, I think it was wrong, the s--- thing was wrong, the timing of Sam Ponder’s tweet, the grudges she held, she had every right to be upset, but it was clear it was put out there to undermine and cancel this show. And it was clear that other people at ESPN had the same exact motive and wanted to get this show cancelled. And to those people, and we know who they are, I’ll never forgive you. And I really wish ESPN had stood tall on it because I think it was s----y they put us on and then took us off when they know this could all come brewing. They should’ve just never put us on to begin with. It was mismanaged from the beginning."

PFT: "Nothing changed from that Tuesday that it got on the air and the following Monday when it was cancelled. They should’ve just not let the show go on the air because on that Tuesday, that’s when Dave looked back through Sam’s tweets and started firing off some tweets at her, kind of reignited the controversy a little bit and at that point ESPN had a meeting about two hours until the show debuted and the question was, are we gonna pull the show. It was a very realistic possibility the show was gonna get canceled."

Big Cat went on to say that while he deserved to be lumped in with what Portnoy said about Ponder, he pointed out their voices are not the same and each should be judged individually on what they say. The duo also said that ESPN mismanaged the whole thing, but heaped praise on Executive Vice President, Burke Magnus, for supporting them, and hosts, Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo for being mentors and friends. They revealed that appearing on SportCenter Van Pelt months ago was the catalyst to getting their show on ESPN.

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