Everyone has an origin story in the sports media business, but some have funnier wrinkles than others. Ryan McGee relived some snippets of his first days at ESPN with Dan Patrick this week, during a time when Patrick and Keith Olbermann anchored SportsCenter together.
The ESPN senior writer and host of Marty and McGee on ESPN Radio and the SEC Network was a production assistant in charge of drawing up shot sheets to cue Olbermann and Patrick on SportsCenter in the early 90s. Unfortunately for McGee, his handwriting wasn’t necessarily up to standard.
“Speaking of mental health,” McGee starting asking during his guest appearance on The Dan Patrick Show. “You remember a time in the mid-90s on SportsCenter, and this PA turned in a shot sheet, and the handwriting was so atrocious that it caused like a week of firestorm controversy on campus?”
McGee answered the rhetorical question with himself and reminded Patrick of the advice he gave during that week.
“I think it was ‘when I come to you and tell you that your handwriting is atrocious, you probably should listen and not be so defensive,’ in my defense, I was 23 years old. I think six months earlier I was sitting in Western Civ class so.”
Olbermann played a part in McGee’s early days as well, all thanks to the Southington Cab Company’s business model.
“I drove him [Olbermann] to work two or three days a week,” McGee explained to Patrick. “My first day as a PA, I walk into the newsroom, and Keith is putting fliers in the mailboxes because the Southington Cab Company has increased its rates. So he’s looking for a ride to work, and I had just come from Al Jaffe’s office I still had my tie on, and I go ‘are you serious?’ and he goes ‘yeah’ I said ‘what time do I pick you up tomorrow?'”
McGee and Olbermann are two of the many unique personalities to work at ESPN. A backseat spot to listen in on those car rides would’ve been a treat.
“I drove Keith to work for the whole two years I was up there,” McGee continued. “I be like ‘Dan’s mad should I be worried?’ he goes ‘Yes you should be worried, you should talk to Dan and get this straightened out.’ I’m just like ‘Ok, thank you, Keith.'”
Russ Heltman is a daily news writer for BSM. He is the morning host and producer for 89.3 WMKV in Cincinnati, OH. He also works in gameday communications for FC Cincinnati and additionally contributes to the AllBengals blog for Sports Illustrated. Russ can be found on Twitter @RussHeltman11 or you can reach him by email at Heltmandm@yahoo.com.
NBC Sports Announces Matthew Berry Hire, Will Debut Tonight on Football Night in America
This is truly a full circle moment for me,” said Berry, who served as a fantasy football expert at NBC Sports’ Rotoworld from 1999-2004.
NBC Sports has announced the official hiring of fantasy specialist Matthew Berry. He has agreed to a multi-year deal and will be featured on Peacock, NBC and NBC Sports digital platforms.
The network also announced that Berry will join Football Night in America each week during the NFL season on NBC and Peacock including with his debut tonight leading into the 2022 Hall of Fame Game.
Berry will host a weekly game-day fantasy football and sports betting show on Sundays from 11a-1p ET on Peacock and NBC Sports digital platforms. He will also create a one-hour daily podcast for Peacock, live-listening on NBC Sports Audio and SiriusXM and be available as a downloadable podcast.
“We welcome Matthew to the team and are excited to incorporate into our coverage the compelling and industry-shaping commentary that has made him the face of fantasy football for millions of fans,” said Sam Flood, NBC Sports Production Executive Producer & President.
“This is truly a full circle moment for me,” said Berry, who served as a fantasy football expert at NBC Sports’ Rotoworld from 1999-2004. “I started my career at Rotoworld, spent many years there, and not many people are lucky enough to get the chance to come home. I’ve spent my entire life talking fantasy football to anyone that would listen. So when I was offered the chance to join the highest-rated studio show in all of sports, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.”
Berry also added, “Please remind me of this quote the next time I realize millions of people just saw me get a prediction wrong. In the meantime, know that I am incredibly honored and humbled by the opportunity not just to join the FNIA family but also to help build something special on Peacock.”
Berry will provide analysis and content around major NBC Sports events outside of football, including the Kentucky Derby, Indy 500, and more.
Omaha Productions Building College Football Simulcast Around Pat McAfee
“Manning joked that the network doesn’t want McAfee. It wants Omaha Productions and Omaha wants McAfee.”
ESPN is bringing its alternate broadcast strategy to college football. Peyton Manning appeared on The Pat McAfee Show Thursday to announce that McAfee and his crew would anchor six alternate broadcasts of major games for Omaha Productions on Saturday nights this season.
“We have officially agreed, alongside Omaha Productions, to simulcast six big-ass college football games this season,” McAfee said. “We will be on ESPN2. The main cast will be on ESPN. Omaha is obviously helping us along the way and we will be running it.”
McAfee said that when he was first approached by Manning he expressed shock that ESPN wanted him on the air. Manning joked that the network doesn’t want McAfee. It wants Omaha Productions and Omaha wants McAfee.
The shows have not yet been scheduled. Most games in college football’s power 5 conferences are not scheduled until the prior week. With the AP Top 25 and CFP Top 25 both changing regularly, they too will play a role in determining what goes into the primetime slot.
Pat McAfee and his crew will be live in their Indianapolis studio. The former punter at the West Virginia University said that the majority of people appearing on the alternate broadcast each week would be in studio, but there would be occasional guests.
“There’s gonna be give aways. There’s gonna be a lot of action I think during this,” he added.
Omaha Productions adds college football to the NFL and the US Open on its roster of alternate broadcasts. The company is also working on a future MMA alternate broadcast.
“I’m honored to be your teammate again, if you will,” Peyton Manning said in response to McAfee thanking him for the platform and opportunity. “You will kill this. You know this. Everybody is fired up to watch. I guarantee it!”
ESPN Announces Bill Walton ’30 for 30′ Documentary
The Basketball Hall of Famer is viewed as one of the more eccentric figures in sports history.
ESPN Films announced Thursday that production has begun on a new 30 for 30 documentary focused on Bill Walton.
The Basketball Hall of Famer is viewed as one of the more eccentric figures in sports history. Combined with his basketball prowess in both college and the NBA, and his love of The Grateful Dead, politics and activism, Walton is often a divisive figure in the sports broadcast world.
ESPN says Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Artis Gilmore, World B. Free, Robert Parish, Jim Gray, Luke Walton, Jamal Wilkes, Brent Musberger, and Bob Ryan have all been interview subjects for the story.
The documentary will be directed by Steve James, who also directed Hoop Dreams, as well as Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.
No release date was revealed by ESPN. Walton has worked as a college basketball color commentator for the network since 2012. He had previously worked on ESPN’s NBA coverage from 2002-2009.