The First Things First crew sure loves to debate seemingly any topic surrounding Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. They were at it again Thursday morning in spite of co-host Brandon Marshall saying on Monday that they spent too much time focusing on Mayfield. The debate Thursday followed a familiar format of discussing Mayfield’s merits as a NFL quarterback until the closing moments of the show. That’s when co-host Nick Wight said that Mayfield was held to a higher standard because he is in commercials.
“Baker Mayfield is a constant moving target,” an energetic Wright said. “He is evaluated differently than #1 pick Jameis Winston, #1 pick Jared Goff, #1 pick Marcus Mariota and Carson Wentz. Why? Because Progressive pays him six hundred thousand dollars to do some commercials. That’s insanity. It’s so Dog-God crazy. I’m going to lose my mind.”
Mayfield does appear in a series of Progressive Insurance commercials that regularly air during NFL games.
Wright adds that he defends Mayfield not because he has any loyalty to the Browns, but because he wants to see people treated fairly.
“It’s not that Baker Mayfield is my guy,” Wright said. “In fact, now that OBJ is out and will probably never play another game in a Browns’ uniform, I have no connection to the Browns whatsoever, but I do care about fairness. Last year we said Baker needed to pay less attention to everything else (focus on football) and now this year when he says he does not pay attention to that stuff, he is being criticized. We said two weeks ago, maybe he should be benched and then when he plays great against the Bengals we say ‘oh that was only the Bengals. Everybody knew he would’. I am sorry for yelling America, but this is total insanity and people need to understand what is happening here.”
Wright’s outburst elicits laughter from Marshall who insinuates that only successful players should ink endorsement deals.
“Now days, players put fame before the game,” Marshall said. “I don’t mind Patrick Mahomes doing a commercial for State Farm or whoever he does them for because he has won a Super Bowl. Baker Mayfield is 5-3. Let him win something on the field first and then do a commercial.”
Marshall is not the only media personality to criticize Mayfield for his commercials as Colin Cowherd also did so in 2019.
Freddy Rolón Elevated to SVP of Programming, Scheduling At ESPN
“The position leaves Rolón in charge of the schedule and content strategy for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPNEWS”
ESPN announced a promotion within their programming department this week. The network is elevating Freddy Rolón to senior vice president of programming and scheduling. Rolón previously held the vice president of programming and scheduling role.
The position leaves Rolón in charge of the schedule and content strategy for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, along with his role overseeing ESPN Deportes’ linear and digital business.
“The pause in sports caused by the COVID-19 break brought an unprecedented level of unpredictability due to the ever-changing landscape, thousands of cancelled events, altered or postponed seasons, and more,” said Burke Magnus, President, Programming and Original Content, ESPN. “Throughout that time, one factor remained constant – Freddy’s steady hand. While new to his role in programming and scheduling when the pandemic started, he led with excellence, and his strategic thinking guided us during a very tumultuous period.”
Rolón plays an integral part in ESPN’s appeal to Hispanic fans, working closely with production, audio, and digital areas to maximize the draw of English-language broadcasts.
The executive joined ESPN in 2004 and has spent the better part of this last decade building ESPN Deportes into the entity it is today. Rolón held the position of vice president & general manager at ESPN Deportes from 2016 to 2020. From 2011-2016, he served as vice president of ESPN Deportes programming and business initiatives. That title made Rolón responsible for overseeing all ESPN Deportes programming, from acquisitions and development, all the way to scheduling.
Like plenty of high-ranking ESPN voices before him, Rolón started at ESPN as an intern at the company. Shining in the ESPN International program. Rolón then joined the network as senior manager of marketing for ESPN Deportes upon earning his MBA.
That role led to a stint on the radio side of the network as senior director of marketing and integration of ESPN Radio from 2005 to 2007.
Michelle Beadle ‘In Talks With Several Suitors’ For Comeback
“Beadle has been out of the limelight for over a year now ever since ESPN bought out her $5 million per year contract in 2019.”
Michelle Beadle has been out of the spotlight for some time now, but Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy believes that’s about to change. McCarthy is reporting that Beadle could be back in the sports media saddle very soon.
“The former host of ESPN’s NBA Countdown is in talks with several suitors about possibly returning to sports media in time for the NBA’s 2021-22 season,” McCarthy wrote in his piece on the development.
Michelle Beadle has been away from the cameras ever since ESPN bought out her $5 million per year contract in 2019. During that time, plenty of ESPN ex-pats from Kenny Mayne to Dan Le Batard have found green pastures on the other side of ESPN life.
She rose in popularity alongside another former-ESPN stalwart in Colin Cowherd. The two hosted SportsNation together on ESPN2 starting in 2009, and the show saw instant success. Beadle eventually left for a short-lived show on NBCSN before returning to ESPN in 2014 to host SportsNation again and eventually take the reins of NBA Countdown three years later.
The host guided the NBA Countdown desk for one season before ESPN launched Get Up, with her, Mike Greenberg, and Jalen Rose as the headliners in 2018. The show never seemed to fit her style. Things came to a head with her and the network when she said she refused to watch the NFL or college football. Now Beadle can have her pick of the litter for a new role.
McCarthy expects Michelle Beadle to avoid a third stint with ESPN and instead explore a more independent follow-up act to ESPN a la Bill Simmons with The Ringer and Jemele Hill with her podcast network. Beadle’s representatives did not respond to McCarthy’s comment request.
Turner does not look like a great option in McCarthy’s eyes either, given that Ernie Johnson is their lead NBA host for the foreseeable future. Time will tell where Beadle eventually lands as the NBA season fast approaches.
Candace Parker, Stan Van Gundy Get New Deals With Turner
”We’re thrilled for them to continue to be a part of our dynamic commentator roster”
Turner Sports has announced that they are bringing two analysts back for the 2021-22 NBA season. Both Stan Van Gundy and Candace Parker have signed ”multi-year agreements” with the company.
Tara August, the Senior VP of Talent Services & Special Projects for Turner had plenty of high praise for the two. “Candace and Stan are two of the most highly-regarded analysts in the game of basketball, and we’re thrilled for them to continue to be a part of our dynamic commentator roster.”
Parker will be a studio analyst for the network’s coverage of Tuesday night games. She served in the same role last season alongside Shaquille O’Neal, Dwayne Wade, and host Adam Lefkoe. She won praise from fans and the industry alike for the way she held her ground in debates with Shaq regarding the way the game is played.
Van Gundy will be a game analyst for TNT. He last worked for Turner during the 2019-20 NBA season before deciding to return to the sidelines as head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans.
“Candace brings a passionate player perspective to every telecast and marries it with a grace and style that keeps viewers entertained and engaged at every turn.” said August. “We missed Stan’s irreverent coaching voice and are honored to have him back to educate fans on Xs and Os and bring them a bit closer to the game.”
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