I’ve never been able to work at a place where I couldn’t say “fuck.” Don’t get me wrong. In the board room, such language is clearly inappropriate… unless the CEO says it first. It’s not like I can’t control my tongue. I can and have but every once in a while, a timely f-bomb is in order. There’s something to be said for the effectiveness of a perfectly placed expletive.
When I was living in Orlando years ago and looking for work, I actually thought about going to work for Disney. That might not have lasted long considering my aforementioned affinity for the occasional F-train. Mickey and company just wouldn’t approve.
As most of you know, Disney owns ABC which owns ESPN, which is why ESPN radio and television personalities are suspended with glaring regularity for saying and doing things that range from the mundane to the outright offensive. Suspensions have become so commonplace the network should have its own penalty box.
Most recently Colin Cowherd, who was on his way out of Bristol anyway, had the remainder of his contract shortened for implying that baseball couldn’t be all that complex of a sport if Dominicans could understand it. Needless to say, that didn’t go over well with his Hispanic listeners.
Countless others have either been suspended or fired over the years for opening their mouths and inserting their feet. The list includes Keith Olbermann, Bill Simmons, Stephen A. Smith, Britt McHenry, Tony Kornheiser, Woody Paige, Jemele Hill, Dana Jacobson, Jay Mariotti, Steve Phillips, Jalen Rose, Rush Limbaugh, Rob Parker and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few. It’s an ever-growing list of people who have been sent to ESPN’s principal’s office for wrong-doing.
Like I said before, Mickey don’t play that.
As a result of so many people overstepping their bounds, ESPN’s sports coverage has become so Pablum and white bread, it’s hard to take the network seriously or at least listen to it without the mute button close at hand.
Since ESPN has already suspended half its staff, I thought I’d take a look at some of the rest of the on-air personalities and set odds on the next one to be suspended.
Place your bets, people.
The Ber-hemoth has been with ESPN ever since they opened the doors, which largely explains why we can’t get him off the air. If nothing else, ESPN is loyal to those who were there to break ground, back when they were showing nothing but ping pong and curling 24/7. These days, Berman mostly works the football circuit combined with the occasional baseball events during which he makes us wince with his billionth “Back, Back, Back” routine. While most of us would love for Berman to become the next personality suspended, it’s just not going to happen. If the guy hasn’t been suspended yet for keeping a half-filled flask in his jacket pocket or for cursing at interns on-set and on-air, the odds are he won’t be any time soon.
Bob Ley is one of the true journalists left at ESPN. Every once in a while, you’ll still see him doing Sportscenter as needed but he’s mostly known for anchoring ESPN’s Outside the Lines, the network’s closest attempt to provide anything slightly newsworthy. Like Berman, Ley is also an ESPN lifer, one of the network’s originals. Ley would have to basically prance through the French Quarter naked shouting ESPN sucks for the network to even consider taking him off the air for his improprieties and even then they might let it slide.
In an industry traditionally dominated by men, Linda Cohn stands on her own merit. After joining ESPN in 1992, Cohn can still be seen hosting SportsCenter and doing a better job than the majority of her male counterparts. While not entirely uncontroversial, Cohn remains as professional as they come. Despite the fact that my good friend J-Dub has what can politely be described as an unhealthy Linda Cohn fetish, it would take him bum-rushing the set while she’s on air for the network to suspend her and even then that might not happen, even if she were the one warranting his advances.
Ryen Russillo is a day-time radio talk show host who splits airtime with the far more pompous Scott Van Pelt. Russillo recently re-signed with ESPN which means they like what he has to say. Plus they need some opinionated analysis now that Colin Cowherd is gone. Russillo’s and Pelt’s radio show followed Cowherd on ESPN U for some time. Russillo is professional and runs a solid broadcast. His addition to the Van Pelt show made it somewhat tolerable. That being said, he hosts a long show and it’s perfectly possible that, while he might not mean it, something might slip out that offends one party or another.
Van Pelt moonlights between his own show and the occasional golf coverage. He’s that annoying kind of sportscaster that thinks everything he says is funny when it’s actually far from it. The only thing offensive about Van Pelt is his ego and unfortunately you can’t get suspended for that otherwise there wouldn’t be a network. Van Pelt thinks he’s far more controversial than he is which only compounds his annoyingness. Other than that, he’s pretty squeaky clean. Besides, in his own mind, he’s far too important to the network to risk saying anything that might lose him airtime. How would ESPN ever survive his absence?
Welcome to the Walt Disney World of ESPN reporting. Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic have been on the air in the mornings for four hours a day for years with barely a blemish, which is pretty impressive considering how tightly Mickey monitors the commentary of its personalities and how much controversial material Mike and Mike have covered over the years. When I listen to Mike and Mike, I can’t help but feel like I’m listening to Sports for Dummies which is why I quickly turn it off and never tell anyone I actually tuned in in the first place. Mike and Mike are far too politically correct for the network to even consider suspending either of them.
Hands down, Skip Bayless has to be one of the most annoying personalities ESPN throws at us on a daily basis. He’s one of the taking heads ESPN has put on First Take, a show whose tagline is Embrace Debate or something stupid like that. Bayless goes head to head with Stephen A. Smith on set, shouting over the top of one another with one of them inevitably taking a stance that nobody agrees with, just for the sake of argument. It’s like that relationship you grew tired of years ago. It’s only a matter of time before Bayless says something suspension-worthy which might actually make that show worth watching. The only problem is that viewers are already so tired of his act none of us will be listening.
The former Denver Broncos linebacker has been Chris Berman’s sidekick on ESPN’s NFL Primetime ever since the program first hit the air in 1987. The show has won seven Emmy awards to date and Jackson just won the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award this year. That being said, he was harshly criticized back in the day for keeping quiet when Rush Limbaugh dropped his comments about Donovan McNabb. Either way, that’s behind us. Jackson will remain on that show and unsuspended for some time to come… at least if Chris Berman has anything to say about it.
Chicago’s own Mike Ditka also sits on the set of NFL Primetime. He wouldn’t be Ditka if he didn’t say something jarring every once in a blue moon. Ditka is currently 75 years old and is scheduled to once again offer up his old school insight on the set of that program this season. That being said, it’s perfectly imaginable that Ditka slip and say something he truly means about the athletes today, like calling them pussies or something. And it’d be worth it too. After being suspended for that, he’d probably just tell the network to screw off which would be doubly as exciting. At even money, this might be a smart bet.
Mel Kiper, Jr. is ESPN’s NFL Draft expert. He’s the only man in America not labeled as a sexual deviant for spending so much time watching college boys sweat. In all seriousness, Kiper’s wife must go nine months out of the year without seeing him and is probably happy with that arrangement. Kiper’s been known to ruffle a few feathers in his day, most notably for going after the former Colts GM back when that team was continually irrelevant. Viewers tolerate Kiper’s antics, and hair, understanding that analyzing the potential future of over a thousand college athletes a year, from the famous to the obscure, is actually a pretty tough job. It’s doubtful, although still somewhat possible, that Kiper says anything controversial enough to get him suspended. He’s not as untouchable as he is unlistenable.
Melrose is another one of those on-air personalities that ESPN has dubbed an expert in their respective sport. Kiper does draft stuff, Ditka does NFL and the mullet does hockey. In fact, ESPN barely consults anyone else on the NHL as if Melrose’s word was the gospel. Melrose is a putz and a Canadian one at that. He did say “shit” on air once before the network bleeped it but that wasn’t enough to warrant a suspension. That was also five years ago which means he’s due to drop another curse word soon, we can only hope. That being said, ESPN has no one else to turn to for its hockey coverage so Melrose is probably safe… unfortunately.
Dicky V is getting up there. He’s 76 years old and going strong, recognized mostly for his vivacious on-air personality. Nobody has come to symbolize ESPN’s coverage of college basketball more than Vitale. He’s pretty squeaky clean as well, traveling the nation, giving motivational speeches to high school athletes and carrying on the message of his late friend, on-air companion and fellow paisan, Jim Valvano. That being said, Vitale is getting a little long in the tooth and something might just pop out that can be misconstrued by the powers-that-be. Nah, I take that back. Vitale has used the same scintillating and sensational one-liners for so long, it’s impossible at this point for him to come up with an original thought. I’m setting these odds high for even if Dicky does say something offensive with a capital O, the network will give him the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to early Alzheimer’s.
These days, Ravech is mostly known for his bad wig and even worse Baseball Tonight coverage. He’s worked at ESPN for over twenty years. Enough people alongside him have been suspended over the years, including Ravech’s former Baseball Tonight set partner, Steve Phillips, who was fired for having sexual relations with a considerably younger production assistant. Having been with the network for so long and seen his partners come and go, Ravech should understand the rules of the game and not do anything stupid. That being said, Mickey is always watching.
Michael Wilbon has been pretty uncontroversial ever since leaving his Washington Post gig for ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption. In fact, I’ve watched that show on and off ever since it hit the air in 2001 and I can’t remember Wilbon ever saying a single thing that offended me, which is offensive in and of itself. That doesn’t mean he’s due. That just means he doesn’t have it in him.
Jason Whitlock has played the race card so often one would think he’s a blackjack dealer. That being said, he’s softened his tune ever since joining ESPN full-time. There was once a time when Whitlock’s articles at the Kansas City Star were must-reads just to see who he’d piss off next. These days, he’s toeing the company line and sickeningly so, knowing that one slip could land the man without a paycheck and Whitlock likes his meals far too much to be missing one. The old Whitlock would have been kicked off the air repeatedly by now. The kinder, gentler Whitlock is now a regular substitute on Pardon the Interruption. That show is not live which gives the network plenty of chance to edit Whitlock’s commentary but unfortunately, he’s been hanging around Wilbon far too much to say anything that might have any sort of shock value in its truthfulness.
Interesting that the one with even money, Mike Ditka, is the only publically unapologetic Conservative, politically speaking…
Most of those guys, it won’t ever happen. They are perfect for Disneyland. The only ones I could see it with would be maybe Ditka, because he doesn’t know what he’s saying half the time, but more likely Bayless and Whitlock. Bayless rambles on though just to get a rise out of people and most of his points are absurd. Bomani or Dan L maybe, they didn’t make the list.
Yeah, gimme a line on LeBetard. If it’s not too big an overlay, I may take it 🙂 Here’s hoping in turns out to be Schilling, though. I’d be fine without that guy on my TV. Props to J-Dub! Guys like us know a real woman when we see her. LC is the Mae West of sports broadcasting, I grok her. She can be my backup goalie anytime!
I say it’s NBA analyst Chris Broussard , when he acknowledges that he’s back-slided as a man of faith (Christian) , when he acknowledges he had immoral thoughts about the Texas’ female Angie Houston who claimed she’d been raped by pig . Broussard has proselytized about the immoral behavior of NBA players in terms of their sexuality , but this fu#$ing @sshole (Brousssard) is nowhere to be seen when it comes players in the league (NBA) and the issue of spousal abuse , drug use or even gun violence or even the racial bigotry shown by the likes Donald Sterling or even the homophobia an aging moron such as Rich De Vos . This being the same DeVos who apparently donated thousands to gay and lesbian organizations ? LOL,LOL !!! WTF ! The NBA for years allowed the likes of Sterling and De Vos to get away with their behavior without doing a damn thing . I don’t believe anything else , needs to be added . Do you ?
It’s the ESPN/ABC/Disney conglomerate, Dwin.
I didn’t know one was allowed to voice a political stance therein.
I forgot to include Bomani and LeBatard, KP. Good call.
The list was getting a little long but I definitely wouldn’t lay heavy odds on either. I’d probably give you +350 on Bomani just because he seems likely to blurt out something Disney wouldn’t like soon enough and maybe about +650 on LeBatard. Miami teams suck so bad, he’s bound to wake up one morning in a shitty mood.
Wait, I take that back. LeBatard was recently suspended for putting up those LeBron billboards, remember? So he’s exempt.
Ah the joys of running one’s own website.
Freedom of speech is what you got.
I took LeBatard off the board ’cause he’s already been suspended (see above comment).
Schilling’s a good one. Surprised he hasn’t been suspended already. Maybe they feel sorry over the whole cancer thing. Either way, I’d put him at even money, not much more.
Nice to see you two sharing a Cohn shrine. I’d pay it a visit but it’s probably sticky.
Great call on Broussard, Al.
I have a buddy who now turns the channel every time he’s on television and this guy is a hoops junkie.
Broussard’s comments on homosexuality were clearly uncalled for. Not sure how he didn’t get docked a week for that one.
I guess playing the bible card helps. Barely.
What kind of odds will you give me on LeBetard or Lee Corso? If Lou Holtz hadn’t got canned I’d throw some cash there too. Corso is a hoot / sideshow but you gotta love him – he’s Dickie V without the overexposure. Tophatel, I agree 100% on Broussard. And yes, gotta admit I’d go there with Linda Cohn. Afterwards, we could discuss why Trout is twice the player Harper is before I nodded off. How great would that be?
Wow, I bet if I cornered the market on LindaCohn.com, I could probably run a website that would keep you perverts coming back for good. Memo to self: check with godaddy on that website’s availability.
Hmmm, that’s odd. Says it’s already been registered to a Mr. Dub. Oh well.
Good call on Corso, Moose. Maybe if he was suspended for a week, ESPN could pull in Burt Reynolds to replace him. I’m pretty sure Corso has him on speed dial.
I’ve followed Bomani’s work since his radio show in Canada. He knows better than to let loose with something that would jeopardize his checks.
LeBetard, though…he’s half a drink away from a tirade against the Cuban families making him late to work, cutting him off on A1A.
What would be really funny, Doc, is if they decided to suspend LeBatard’s father.
I watch that show and Papi’s never been one to hold his tongue.
I guess it’s a good thing no one can understand him.
If there is a God it will be Skippy Bayless. I wish I could reach through the tv and strangle his ass. He ruined Cold Pizza for me. They got rid of the wrong one back then. Should have kept Woody.
If the Field includes Neil Everett at atleast 8-1 put me down for the limit. Hoping they do random testing in Bristol.
It’s only been a week but can we get a suspension for those 2 asshats Mason & Ireland that are covering Herd’s spot on ESPN radio? If I wanted a nap, I’d just take one. Listening to those guys is torture. If SC can talk as well as he writes, let’s cue him up. He can’t be worse than Mel & Dari can he?
Totally unrelated – didn’t watch last night but is Rousey just going to brutalize everybody? There’s got to be some bad-ass crack whore out there who’s took a few licks from her pimp that would put up a fight. Losing interest at this point. Why watch when you know the outcome?
When I saw Keith Olbermann in your write up, a raving Liberal who has been relieved of his duties more than once over his absurd opinions I thought politics was fair game… Never mind…
I couldn’t care less…Seems like political correctness run amok to me.
They seem to want Muzak for sports…Plain and boring.
The reason Howard Stern, Stephen Colbert, Rush Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann and the like are interesting is because you don’t know what they’ll say next. If you take the element of surprise, sarcasm or judgement out of the equasion, it might as well be a a robot reporting.
I just wish ESPN had a legitimate rival or competition.
Bayless is intolerable. I don’t watch that show, which is already bad enough, for just that reason.
Apparently people are watching though since it’s still, inexplicably, on the air.
Are you implying that Everett partakes in a little bit of the green trees?
I haven’t given those two guys a shot yet. Perhaps I’ll pay them a listen just to give them a fair shake although that doesn’t sound like much of a glowing recommendation.
Rousey’s ridiculous, man. No one is even close. She’s dominating her field in a way few others have.
Easy on the eyes too.
You’re right, Dwin. Since I bat from that site of the plate, I don’t mind his rants quite as much but I can see where he’d irk the more conservative listener.
Speaking of liberals and conservatives, just when we thought previous presidential campaigns have been laughable, we might be in or the most drama-ridden one yet.
Stay tuned for the SportsChump network, coming to a channel near you.
And as of course, I expect you to be my west coast correspondent. Not sure you’ll like the pay but the chicks you’ll be landing just for mentioning you work at the SportsChump Network should be payment enough.
I’m accustomed to that pay scale from the SRM days.
…Works for me but I don’t think wifey will like that arrangement much.
I’ve been praying for Berman to go away ever since he arrived but have concluded that he will die on-air. As will Vitale. As far as being suspended my next up is Ditka. He seems to struggle whenever the discussion turns to race, domestic abuse, the modern player, etc. (in other words, just about every topic they talk about instead of x’s and o’s) and I think he’s just going to say the very wrong thing at the most wrong time in the very near future. (I trust that part of J-Dub’s interest in Linda has to do with the fact she knows more about hockey than Melrose)
Agree with Dwindy at the top…
Ditka does not give a sh_t about being suspended.. it would only help his cred.. which needs zero help. Hearing Ditka’s opinions is like hearing Charles Barkley’s opinions.. you asked the Q so let the man reply… don’t like the reply? then don’t ask the Q. He wouldn’t know PC if he looked it up and that is EXACTLY why sports fans adore both men.
Bayless is a self hyping turd who won’t get suspended but we pray he gets outright whacked properly
It’s okay, Bleed.
I’m far better when the spoken word anyway.
As are most of the newspaper writers ESPN decided to stick on the air.
You may be onto to something with that Cohn analysis. Nicely done.
Dub would return to comment but… he’s busy.
Finally, a Tree sighting.
I must have done something right here.
Yay…Schill compares inappropriately and gets suspended. Go big or go home, I guess 🙂 If I didn’t have a tshirt already, I’d be hitting you up for one. Shots of Fireball for everybody!
Schill is probably the safest play but he’s not gonna get you much return, Yaz….
’til he wins.
Don’t forget to enter the over/under pool.
See ya’ in September.