Pat McAfee Scores Impressive TKO Over ESPN: TRAINA THOUGHTS

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1. For some reason, ESPN seems unable to stay away from bizarre and needless controversies.

The latest dust-up: The Worldwide Leader is accused of keeping its talent off Pat McAfee’s popular SiriusXM radio show. This isn’t a new type of ban for ESPN. For many, many years the network kept its employees from appearing on Mike Francesa’s radio show on WFAN in New York.

The logic, I assume, is that ESPN is trying to protect its own radio shows. But that didn’t make sense then and it doesn’t make sense now.

You can make the argument that many ESPN personalities need McAfee’s show more than McAfee needs them. ESPN pundits like Rex Ryan will reach a larger audience on McAfee’s show than on pretty much any ESPN Radio show. Why would you not want that promotion for your talent?

The other bizarre twist here is that McAfee had recently made numerous appearances for ESPN on Get Up and College GameDay and called Thursday night college football games for the network.

McAfee exposed the alleged policy on his show last Friday. “Hey, just know this,” McAfee told cohost A.J. Hawk, “there were no ESPN people on the show today. New mandate. New mandate they’re not allowed on the show. We had some good times with some of those. Teammates, friends, people that I’ve known for years. Not allowed anymore. Don’t come.”

McAfee said he heard about the edict through a couple of people.

The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch reached out to ESPN about the policy and its response was quite bizarre.

“We didn’t intend to ban ESPN guests from the show.” Huh? How does talent get unintentionally banned? I know from my own experience booking the SI Media Podcast (please don’t ban any of my guests, ESPN) that ALL talent has to get appearances approved. So how can the ban not have been intended?

Could it be ESPN wasn’t expecting McAfee to make a bit out of the policy? And once the network realized how bad it looked it decided it would be better to reverse course rather than be mocked by a popular and powerful sports media member and his audience?

I didn’t intend to speculate about that reasoning and won’t speculate further.

2. In addition to calling Notre Dame games and working NBC's NFL studio, newly retired Drew Brees will also be part of the network's Olympics coverage.

3. The St. Bonaventure Bonnies won the A-10 Tournament on Sunday, beating VCU, 74–65. As soon as the game ended, St. Bonaventure's digital media director tried to get some video of the celebration but ended up in a chokehold, thanks to one of the arena's security guards.

You can see the beginning of the disturbing episode in this video.

A-10 commissioner Drew Dickerson said the conference is looking into the incident.

4. This was a solid prank executed by Alex Bregman's wife, Reagan.

5. Every time I think we can't get much lower as a society, something comes along to prove me wrong. Case in point: The mother of one high school cheerleader allegedly made fake videos of other cheerleaders naked, drinking alcohol and vaping.

6. The latest episode of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast features two guests.

First up is ESPN play-by-play man Ryan Ruocco, who was calling the Nuggets-Mavericks game March 11, 2020, when the NBA announced the season would be suspended because of COVID-19. Ruocco talks about that experience, how his mindset about COVID-19 changed from that night until now, whether he'd be comfortable calling games in full arenas, whether he ever got used to calling games from home and much more.

Following Ruocco, Brian Stelter, CNN's chief media correspondent, joins the podcast to discuss how the media has covered COVID-19, what the media has done well and not so well, what the media's responsibilities are in reporting about COVID-19 vaccines, if he ever expected a pandemic to become so political, what it's like to cover media while working for a media company, the cable news wars and much more

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify and Stitcher.

You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.

7. RANDOM OF THE DAY: Happy 78th birthday to the Iron Sheik.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram