Sports Illustrated continues to be the same in name only after announcing a high-profile, cost-cutting move Friday afternoon, firing senior writer Grant Wahl.
Recently, Wahl hasn’t shied away from expressing disdain for the way Maven operates Sports Illustrated. Days before he was fired, Wahl shared concern over Maven using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to permanently reduce his salary.
A 23-year journalist for SI, Wahl was given the ax with no severance pay, a move that was met with criticism on social media. But Maven quickly sent an internal memo condemning Wahl, painting him as a selfish employee for complaining about taking a paycut during trying times for everyone.
“Every senior staff member volunteered to put their personal budgeted future at risk, to save jobs and ensure stable salaries for those making less. Everyone, that is, but one person,” CEO of Maven, Jim Heckman wrote in the memo obtained by Front Office Sports. “This person made more than $350,000 last year to infrequently write stories that generated little meaningful viewership or revenue.”
“To complain about a personal pay cut when 31 others had lost their jobs is incomprehensible in light of the sacrifices others made to help limit layoffs and maintain liveable salaries for our staff. Such a me-first attitude is not part of the tradition and culture Maven is committed to maintaining,” the memo continued.
“We’ve decided to direct what would have been this person’s salary into additional severance pay and health benefits for those laid off who need it most.”
Wahl quote tweeted the memo shared by Ian Thomas of Front Office Sports, defending his position, stating he writes frequently and his base salary was “far below” the listed $350,000.
“I told Maven I was fine taking a 30% pay cut during the pandemic. But it was shameful to try to push through a permanent 30% cut beyond the pandemic,” Wahl added on Twitter.
Late last month, projecting a $30 million decline in revenue this year, Maven laid off 31 employees including nine from SI’s editorial department. Longtime SI staffers Chris Ballard, Jack Dickey, and Laken Litman were part of the round of layoffs two weeks ago, while Wahl had remained with other high-profile writers such as Pat Forde and Tom Verducci.
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
Big Cat: Listening to ESPN Wisconsin After Packers Playoff Loss ‘Highlight of My NFL Season’
“For three hours, I sat in my car. I arrived home –it’s a 20-minute drive — I arrived home, and I sat for three hours listening to callers be like ‘blow up Lambeau!’, ‘get 12 (Rodgers) outta here!’, ‘we need to build a dome, this team isn’t built for the outside’, and that was the highlight of my NFL season. And I have no problem saying that.”
During a recent interview with Barstool Sports, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a poignant question for noted Chicago Bears fan Dan “Big Cat” Katz that he then used to slam the Packers quarterback while also expressing his enjoyment for Green Bay fans.
“Is it hard, for you as a Bears fan, that some of your greatest moments are cheering against me when the Bears aren’t playing?”, the Packers quarterback half-jokingly asked.
“Very good question,” Katz responded. “No, it’s actually great, because what I’ve told everyone is — I’m very realistic about the Bears — ‘not a great franchise, (the Bears) just don’t do the right things’ for the most part. Every year I look forward to the playoffs and the game that you’re going to lose. I’ve told this story on air, but, when you guys lost to San Francisco this year we were watching the game in New Jersey and I drove back to Brooklyn — brag — and I listened to (Mark) Tauscher. For three hours, I sat in my car. I arrived home –it’s a 20-minute drive — I arrived home, and I sat for three hours listening to callers be like ‘blow up Lambeau!’, ‘get 12 (Rodgers) outta here!’, ‘we need to build a dome, this team isn’t built for the outside’, and that was the highlight of my NFL season. And I have no problem saying that.”
Rodgers laughed at Big Cat as he delivered the message, seemingly getting genuine joy out of the conversation.
“I know I’m a loser,” Katz continued. “That’s the best part. I’ve come to grips with the fact that I’m a loser, so yes, watching you lose in the playoffs is…that’s my Super Bowl. And I’ve won a lot of Super Bowls if you do it that way. More than you.”
Michael Silver Joins San Francisco Chronicle
“I’m ecstatic to join forces with some of my favorite journalists and be part of a publication I’ve been devouring for decades — in the greatest region on Earth,” Silver told The Chronicle.
Veteran NFL reporter Michael Silver is joining The San Francisco Chronicle as their newest NFL columnist.
Silver will continue his work with The Volume, Bally Sports, and Backstage Media in addition to adding a column with the Chronicle.
“I’m ecstatic to join forces with some of my favorite journalists and be part of a publication I’ve been devouring for decades — in the greatest region on Earth,” Silver told The Chronicle. “It will be a thrill to write columns alongside Scott Ostler, a living legend, and my amazingly talented friend Ann Killion, who I’ve dreamed of working with since we were competing on the 49ers beat in the early ’90s. … As a native San Franciscan, this feels like home.
Silver has previously written for Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, GQ, NFL Network, and Yahoo! Sports, among others. He’s also authored books on Jerry Rice, Kurt Warner, and Dennis Rodman.
Skip Bayless Tries to Win Debate Rounds ‘Like Muhammad Ali’
“I must admit I have been known upon rare occasion to try to win a debate the way Ali won rounds with a flurry at the end trying to get the last word also going through the stop or wrap sign.”
When people watch debate shows, they sometimes don’t want the debate to end. However, bills have to get paid and commercials have to be shown. However, when is the right time for a debate show to air a commercial? On the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show, Skip was asked in an email by a listener about when he and Shannon Sharpe know to go to a debate on UNDISPUTED on FS1. Bayless said the show has more room to roam in the first two hours, but eventually, he gets the signal from his line producer.
“We loosely plan on 22-23 minutes in what we call our A block. We block out 25-ish minutes for our B block, which is the only block in the show that has two topics in it.”
“Our line producer in the control room, Nick, who is in our ears. He tries to sense along the trail when we are winding down or when we are trying to push the clock too far. His first cue to us in our ears, he tries to avoid speaking when we are speaking, the first cue is ‘start to wrap’. Then, a minute or so later, he says ‘wrap’. If we continue to not wrap, maybe we get a much stronger ‘wrap’.”
However, it might not be easy for Bayless and Sharpe to end the debate, especially if they both want to be the one who wins the argument. So, sometimes, they can easily go past the hard wrap sign that is given.
“Sometimes the guy sitting across from me at the debate desk gets all worked up and barrels right through that stop sign. I must admit I have been known upon rare occasion to try to win a debate the way Ali won rounds with a flurry at the end trying to get the last word also going through the stop or wrap sign,” said Bayless.
If there is one thing that Bayless is proud of, it’s the fact that UNDISPUTED has never gone past the allotted time, which allows The HERD with Colin Cowherd to begin on schedule.
“I must tell you not in 6 years have we ever not finished a show right on time. Not once have we pushed Colin over the cliff as he begins his show. That is just not acceptable.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.