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Stephen A. Smith: ‘I’m One of the Few’ Skip Bayless Has Ever Trusted

“I can disagree with him, I can tell you I disagree with him, I can argue and butt heads back and forth with him, but what I would never do is betray his trust because I know him in ways other people don’t.”

Ricky Keeler

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Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were debating each other daily on television whether on First Take or Cold Pizza for many years. While Bayless and Smith often disagreed on many topics, they would never try to attack one another personally.

Smith was a guest on The Ringer NBA Show (Real Ones) on Thursday with Logan Murdock and Raja Bell and he said that Bayless holds him in such regard that he owes it to him to not try and attack his character.

“Skip Bayless is one of those dudes that is an introvert. He’s a loner. He does things his way in ways nobody else does them. I’m one of the few people on the planet he’s ever trusted. We don’t agree on much. I didn’t agree with his tweet when Damar Hamlin went down. I didn’t agree with him years ago with what he said about Troy Aikman. I’ve never agreed with the incessant criticism of LeBron James. He does not care.

“What he cares about is that I’m going to disagree with his perspective, but not try to character assassinate him. I’m not even saying that other people — he hasn’t brought it down upon himself for other people to act that way. If you are Russell Westbrook, you should have a problem with him calling you Westbrick. If you are Chris Bosh, you should have a problem with him calling you Bosh Spice.

“Just respect the fact I can’t do that. I wouldn’t be on First Take if it wasn’t for Skip Bayless. I owe him that. I can disagree with him, I can tell you I disagree with him, I can argue and butt heads back and forth with him, but what I would never do is betray his trust because I know him in ways other people don’t.”

Smith was also asked by Murdock why it’s so tough for some journalists to call out athletes and still acknowledge they are human beings. He mentioned that even if he doesn’t hear from certain athletes, that doesn’t change how he thinks about them.

“Jealousy, envy, and this belief that they have a right to define what you should be as opposed to embracing who you are. Then, hypocrisy last but not least because if you communicated with them more, they would feel better about it because you don’t communicate with them as much as they would like, that’s a license to castigate you or to label you in some kind of way.

“There’s a few cats that haven’t spoken to me. I don’t give a damn. It doesn’t impact how I’m going to cover them. I’m going to call it like I see it. If I know you, that’s different. It’s going to heighten my level of sensitivity, but not communicating with you is not going to make me go after you, I’m going to look at what you do and I’m going to judge it accordingly. I’m going to do everything I can not to judge you.”

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Ian Rapoport: I Have Never Thought It is Me vs Adam Schefter

“I don’t even think that, it’s just I report what I know, and he reports what he knows.”

Jordan Bondurant

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In terms of NFL insiders, Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter are the two biggest names out there. And sometimes it can be a race between the two to get the biggest scoops first. Especially now with the NFL coaching carousel in full swing.

This week two teams hired new head coaches – the Broncos traded two first round picks to the Saints to acquire the rights to Sean Payton and the Texans signed DeMeco Ryans.

Rapoport tweeted that Denver had pursued Ryans up until the day they announced the trade for Payton.

Not even 15 minutes later, Schefter appeared to clarify the information out there with the two teams.

On The Pat McAfee Show on Thursday, Pat McAfee referred to the conflicting information as a “source off.”

Ian said he stood behind what he put out there.

“I know it’s fun to call it a source off or whatever, but for me I reported what I had based on the best information I can get – based on talking to many, many people throughout the course of the last month,” Rapoport said from the Senior Bowl. “And then whatever happens as a result of this I don’t really mind.”

In terms of any sort of rivalry between him and Schefter, Rapoport doesn’t view it as a head-to-head matchup.

“I don’t even think that, it’s just I report what I know, and he reports what he knows,” he said. “And everyone can sort of judge for themselves whichever way to go.”

McAfee gave kudos to Rapoport for his reporting on the Ryans situation. He also said it’s a good thing Rapoport doesn’t worry himself too much about what other insiders are doing.

“I think you should feel good about it, but I do like a good source off,” McAfee said. “And I appreciate the fact that you don’t view it as you versus Schefter. But you two are at the top of the game. So that’s a compliment more so than anything.”

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AEW Considers Launching Streaming Service

“It’s possible an AEW streaming service could be independent, but many are hopeful AEW’s offerings would be available on HBO Max or Discovery+ akin to how WWE Network is now available on Peacock.”

Jordan Bondurant

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All Elite Wrestling is looking into launching its own streaming service.

According to reporting from Bloomberg, a source “familiar with management’s thinking” said AEW is looking to strike a deal with broadcast partner Warner Bros. Discovery.

Since launching in 2019, AEW now puts on two weekly shows on Warner channels TBS and TNT and airs two shows on YouTube.

Last year AEW acquired Ring of Honor from Sinclair Broadcast Group. As part of that deal, AEW took ownership of RoH’s extensive content library Honor Club. So much like WWE did with WWE Network when it launched in 2014, AEW could launch its streaming service and have all of Ring of Honor’s content in a one-stop shop.

It’s possible an AEW streaming service could be independent, but many are hopeful AEW’s offerings would be available on HBO Max or Discovery+ akin to how WWE Network is now available on Peacock.

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NBC Officially Unveils Noah Eagle, Todd Blackledge as New Big Ten Booth

“With their collective college football experience and great enthusiasm for the game, Todd, Noah and Kathryn join a production team that can’t wait to kick off the Big Ten season.”

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It’s officially official: Noah Eagle, Todd Blackledge, and Kathryn Tappen will join the Big Ten on NBC booth when the network begins airing the conference’s football package in 2023.

NBC made the announcement Thursday, after weeks of speculation about the moves.

“We are excited to showcase Big Ten Saturday Night on the NBC Sports’ primetime marquee,” said NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood. “When you hear Todd’s voice, you know it’s a big college football game. It has been that way for decades.

“Noah is one of the industry’s rising young play-by-play commentators, who has excelled calling numerous sports across multiple platforms for a wide range of audiences. We are thrilled to pair him in the booth with Todd.

“Kathryn has told the stories of so many memorable Notre Dame Football moments over the last decade in her on-field reporting and interviews,” Flood continued. “With their collective college football experience and great enthusiasm for the game, Todd, Noah and Kathryn join a production team that can’t wait to kick off the Big Ten season.”

Blackledge joins NBC after working as a college football analyst for the network for the past 17 seasons. Previously, he was the an analyst for CBS and ABC, making 2023 his 30th consecutive season covering college football as an analyst.

Eagle is the son of broadcasting legend Ian Eagle, and currently serves as the radio voice of the Los Angeles Clippers. He comes to NBC after calling college football games for FOX Sports in 2022.

Tappen has spent the past nine seasons working NBC’s college football coverage with Notre Dame. Eight of those nine seasons were spent as the network’s sideline reporter before anchoring the studio coverage from South Bend in 2022.

2023 will mark the beginning of a seven-year contract for NBC to air Big Ten football games in primetime. The move is one of the biggest notable expansions in the college football arena for the network since its partnership with Notre Dame began in 1991.

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