NBC Sports’ Britney Eurton on Her Biggest Fear Covering the Kentucky Derby

Britney Eurton, a TVG horse-racing reporter whose father, Peter, is a former jockey and current trainer, admits she’s still a little nervous making her Triple Crown debut for NBC Sports for the network’s five-hour Kentucky Derby broadcast this Saturday.

Her biggest fear? Falling over on air. “That would be the most embarrassing thing ever,” she told TheWrap, pledging to wear wedges over high heels.

Still, Eurton (above right with actress Elizabeth Banks) said she’s confident that she’ll make it through the 144th annual event. “This is probably the two most exciting minutes in sports and having grown up in the industry, it is something I’ve been following my entire life,” she said.

Also Read: Always Dreaming Wins the 2017 Kentucky Derby

Eurton also explained how this year’s favorite, Justify, could break a 135-year streak in Louisville, Kentucky, this weekend. If he wins under veteran jockey Mike Smith, Justify would become the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the most historic horse race in the world after not racing at age 2.

And Eurton believes the 3-year-old colt has a great chance of following in American Pharoah’s hoof-steps by winning the Triple Crown — the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes — if he’s victorious in the Run for the Roses.

“Justify can beat any type of horse. I do feel that if he wins the Derby, he could win it all. He could be the next American Pharoah, that is the kind of buzz surrounding him,” Eurton said.

Also Read: American Pharoah Wins Triple Crown Ending a 37-Year Drought (Video)

“It unbelievable to see where Mike Smith is at his age — I couldn’t think of a better person to navigate the Derby on Justify. He is the Tom Brady or Kobe Bryant of horse racing,” she said of the 52-year-old jockey.

Eurton has some other tips for anyone hoping to win a few bucks betting on the Derby. “I really like Bolt d’Oro [ridden by Triple Crown winner Victor Espinoza] … there’s something about Bolt that fits the Derby — he is the type of horse where nothing bothers him, his trainer says you have to wake him up from a nap for the race. He is cool, calm, collected and can handle anything.”

Overall, she thinks it’s the strongest field we’ve seen in a long time: “There are so many horses who have the potential to be great and they are all so evenly matched right now.”

 

Laffit Pincay III, Matt Bernierm, Britney Eurton, Nick Luck at the Breeders’ Cup/NBC Sports

She will be bringing viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the key players leading up to the 6:34 p.m. ET post time. “I will spend a lot of time interviewing trainers, owners and jockeys, relaying the stories behind these contenders. To me, that is one of the most exciting things about the Derby because getting into that starting gate is half the battle,” she said.

“If you only tune into the race, you don’t get to see those connections or attach yourself to a horse … to find out why people loved California Chrome so much because he came from a small beginning, or on the flip side, American Pharoah, who everyone grew to love him because he was such a puppy dog.

“I’m hoping that even just by watching the race, viewers take away some information on the sport,” she added. “The key is always getting to people to love it, once you are in you won’t leave.”

Also Read: ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Season 21 Contestant Victor Espinoza Reveals: ‘I’ve Never Danced Before’

While she isn’t worried about transferring her lifetime of experience at the track and years on TVG to the millions of NBC viewers watching Saturday. “I will prep exactly the same but when it comes to questions, I will make it more for a public audiences,” she said.

Surprisingly, the one thing Eurton doesn’t do is actually ride horses. “It is something my parents never got me involved in. My dad was a jockey and then he got too big, so he became a trainer and took over my grandfather’s stable, but I grew up playing soccer and dancing,” she said.

“When people look at me, they think I could be a jockey because I am not very big,” she said, admitting that last time she was on a horse, her feet came out of the stirrups and ended up “bouncing around, holding on for dear life!”

NBC Sports coverage of the Kentucky Derby begins at noon ET on Saturday, switching over to NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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Always Dreaming Wins the 2017 Kentucky Derby

Britney Eurton, a TVG horse-racing reporter whose father, Peter, is a former jockey and current trainer, admits she’s still a little nervous making her Triple Crown debut for NBC Sports for the network’s five-hour Kentucky Derby broadcast this Saturday.

Her biggest fear? Falling over on air. “That would be the most embarrassing thing ever,” she told TheWrap, pledging to wear wedges over high heels.

Still, Eurton (above right with actress Elizabeth Banks) said she’s confident that she’ll make it through the 144th annual event. “This is probably the two most exciting minutes in sports and having grown up in the industry, it is something I’ve been following my entire life,” she said.

Eurton also explained how this year’s favorite, Justify, could break a 135-year streak in Louisville, Kentucky, this weekend. If he wins under veteran jockey Mike Smith, Justify would become the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the most historic horse race in the world after not racing at age 2.

And Eurton believes the 3-year-old colt has a great chance of following in American Pharoah’s hoof-steps by winning the Triple Crown — the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes — if he’s victorious in the Run for the Roses.

“Justify can beat any type of horse. I do feel that if he wins the Derby, he could win it all. He could be the next American Pharoah, that is the kind of buzz surrounding him,” Eurton said.

“It unbelievable to see where Mike Smith is at his age — I couldn’t think of a better person to navigate the Derby on Justify. He is the Tom Brady or Kobe Bryant of horse racing,” she said of the 52-year-old jockey.

Eurton has some other tips for anyone hoping to win a few bucks betting on the Derby. “I really like Bolt d’Oro [ridden by Triple Crown winner Victor Espinoza] … there’s something about Bolt that fits the Derby — he is the type of horse where nothing bothers him, his trainer says you have to wake him up from a nap for the race. He is cool, calm, collected and can handle anything.”

Overall, she thinks it’s the strongest field we’ve seen in a long time: “There are so many horses who have the potential to be great and they are all so evenly matched right now.”

 

Laffit Pincay III, Matt Bernierm, Britney Eurton, Nick Luck at the Breeders’ Cup/NBC Sports

She will be bringing viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the key players leading up to the 6:34 p.m. ET post time. “I will spend a lot of time interviewing trainers, owners and jockeys, relaying the stories behind these contenders. To me, that is one of the most exciting things about the Derby because getting into that starting gate is half the battle,” she said.

“If you only tune into the race, you don’t get to see those connections or attach yourself to a horse … to find out why people loved California Chrome so much because he came from a small beginning, or on the flip side, American Pharoah, who everyone grew to love him because he was such a puppy dog.

“I’m hoping that even just by watching the race, viewers take away some information on the sport,” she added. “The key is always getting to people to love it, once you are in you won’t leave.”

While she isn’t worried about transferring her lifetime of experience at the track and years on TVG to the millions of NBC viewers watching Saturday. “I will prep exactly the same but when it comes to questions, I will make it more for a public audiences,” she said.

Surprisingly, the one thing Eurton doesn’t do is actually ride horses. “It is something my parents never got me involved in. My dad was a jockey and then he got too big, so he became a trainer and took over my grandfather’s stable, but I grew up playing soccer and dancing,” she said.

“When people look at me, they think I could be a jockey because I am not very big,” she said, admitting that last time she was on a horse, her feet came out of the stirrups and ended up “bouncing around, holding on for dear life!”

NBC Sports coverage of the Kentucky Derby begins at noon ET on Saturday, switching over to NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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ESPN Analyst Sean McDonough on ‘Monday Night Football’ Exit: ‘It Wasn’t a Tremendous Amount of Fun’

Following last week’s announcement that Sean McDonough will no longer be in the booth for “Monday Night Football,” the analyst had some surprisingly candid comments to make about ESPN’s biggest sports property on Thursday.

McDonough told WEEI’s “Kirk & Callahan” that “MNF” was generally “one of the worst NFL games each week,” and said it was a challenge to make it sound “interesting and exciting.”

Jon Gruden’s former partner left the “MNF” booth after just two years, having replaced Mike Tirico in 2016. He has now signed a multi-year extension to his deal to rejoin ESPN’s college football team to call weekly games, as well as a College Football Playoff Semifinal and to assist with Masters coverage.

Also Read: Sean McDonough Exits as Voice of ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’

“If you go back and look at the schedule, generally we got one of the worst NFL games each week. You’re trying to make something sound interesting and exciting that isn’t,” he said.

McDonough explained that part of the issue “was just the way the booth was set up the last two years. It was really geared around Jon Gruden,” he told WEEI. “That’s not unusual, TV really is an analyst-driven medium. Jon had a particular set of skills that he did really well, and foremost among them was analyzing the play, breaking down the play, ‘here’s why they ran that play, here’s why it worked, here’s what this guy did or didn’t do.’

“It was really football heavy, X and O heavy, and I think most play-by-play guys, all play-by-play guys, would’ve felt like a bit of a bystander,” he added.

It was announced in January that Gruden was departing “MNF” to sign a 10-year deal worth nearly $100 million to return as coach of the Oakland Raiders. Gruden previously coached the Raiders from 1998-2001, before heading to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002 — where he ironically beat Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Also Read: ‘Monday Night Football’ Newcomer Sean McDonough Makes His Super Bowl Picks

McDonough said Thursday that when Gruden first left “MNF,” he assumed that he would stay on, but it became clear that ESPN executives had other ideas. However, he stressed that wasn’t because he’d been critical of the National Football League, as previously reported.

“I know there are people within the NFL who probably wish I talked less about the officiating, or whatever it was that rankled them. I was assured by people at ESPN as they were considering a reboot that that wasn’t really an issue,” McDonough said. “I’d like to think ESPN would ignore that. When you pay the league $2 billion per year, you ought to be able to pick who your own announcers are.”

Also Read: ESPN’s Suzy Kolber on Why ‘Monday Night Football’ Is ‘More Than a Game’

As for returning to his old gig on Saturdays, McDonough said: “I love college football. For me, it’s more fun, and that’s a personal taste.”

A spokesperson for ESPN declined TheWrap’s request to comment on McDonough’s interview with WEEI.

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Following last week’s announcement that Sean McDonough will no longer be in the booth for “Monday Night Football,” the analyst had some surprisingly candid comments to make about ESPN’s biggest sports property on Thursday.

McDonough told WEEI’s “Kirk & Callahan” that “MNF” was generally “one of the worst NFL games each week,” and said it was a challenge to make it sound “interesting and exciting.”

Jon Gruden’s former partner left the “MNF” booth after just two years, having replaced Mike Tirico in 2016. He has now signed a multi-year extension to his deal to rejoin ESPN’s college football team to call weekly games, as well as a College Football Playoff Semifinal and to assist with Masters coverage.

“If you go back and look at the schedule, generally we got one of the worst NFL games each week. You’re trying to make something sound interesting and exciting that isn’t,” he said.

McDonough explained that part of the issue “was just the way the booth was set up the last two years. It was really geared around Jon Gruden,” he told WEEI. “That’s not unusual, TV really is an analyst-driven medium. Jon had a particular set of skills that he did really well, and foremost among them was analyzing the play, breaking down the play, ‘here’s why they ran that play, here’s why it worked, here’s what this guy did or didn’t do.’

“It was really football heavy, X and O heavy, and I think most play-by-play guys, all play-by-play guys, would’ve felt like a bit of a bystander,” he added.

It was announced in January that Gruden was departing “MNF” to sign a 10-year deal worth nearly $100 million to return as coach of the Oakland Raiders. Gruden previously coached the Raiders from 1998-2001, before heading to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002 — where he ironically beat Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII.

McDonough said Thursday that when Gruden first left “MNF,” he assumed that he would stay on, but it became clear that ESPN executives had other ideas. However, he stressed that wasn’t because he’d been critical of the National Football League, as previously reported.

“I know there are people within the NFL who probably wish I talked less about the officiating, or whatever it was that rankled them. I was assured by people at ESPN as they were considering a reboot that that wasn’t really an issue,” McDonough said. “I’d like to think ESPN would ignore that. When you pay the league $2 billion per year, you ought to be able to pick who your own announcers are.”

As for returning to his old gig on Saturdays, McDonough said: “I love college football. For me, it’s more fun, and that’s a personal taste.”

A spokesperson for ESPN declined TheWrap’s request to comment on McDonough’s interview with WEEI.

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Peyton Manning in Talks With Fox, ESPN to Call NFL Football Games

Peyton Manning in Talks With Fox, ESPN to Call NFL Football Games

Retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning is in talks with both Fox Sports and ESPN to become a color analyst for either “Thursday Night Football” or “Monday Night Football” games, TheWrap is told by multiple people with knowledge of the conversations.

Manning’s agent, Sandy Montag, is apparently looking for $10 million per year for his client’s services. That would be an enormous sum of money for the actual amount of work involved — but Manning’s star power and crossover appeal just might be worth it. After all, Fox just dropped $3.3 billion for those “Thursday Night Football” rights, so why stop writing massive checks now?

Plus, the “TNF” ratings have been pretty rough after the last few NFL seasons and a mainstream star might be just the kick in the pants the newest night in football needs.

Also Read: ESPN’s Suzy Kolber on Why ‘Monday Night Football’ Is ‘More Than a Game’

And just one season into his own color commentator role at CBS Sports, retired Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo has kicked down the door and opened up wallets for the service’s of Papa John’s former BFF.

Also Read: Peyton Manning Says He’s Not Running for Senate: ‘Zero Interest in Being a Politician’

Beyond the $10 million price tag, Manning and Montag have another request — they’d like Mike Tirico as their play-by-play man. There’s just one problem with that: Tirico is currently employed by NBC Sports, the place he left ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” to be.

Tirico, who is also repped by Montag, is interested on heading to rival Fox once a week should this work out. Bob Costas’ Olympics successor actually wanted the “Thursday Night Football” gig when he moved to NBC, but the NFL blocked him, insisting instead on the primetime “Sunday Night Football” team of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth pulling double-duty.

Such an agreement would finally bring Tirico back to calling weekly NFL football. It also wouldn’t be unprecedented: Fox and ESPN currently share Alex Rodriguez for baseball, for example.

If the Tirico-share doesn’t work out, however, we’re told Joe Buck is also being considered to take on the new Thursday night duties (with or without Peyton), and will continue to work Sundays with Troy Aikman.

Also Read: NFL Referee Ed Hochuli – And His Biceps – To Retire

ESPN needs Manning even more on Mondays, however.

The self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader in Sports is losing popular “Monday Night Football” color analyst Jon Gruden back to the NFL, where he will again coach the Oakland Raiders. And ESPN doesn’t exactly have a ton of talent to backfill the crucial role: lesser-know Louis Riddick has expressed interest in taking over the spot, and while another ex-NFL quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck, is more of a name and also waiting in the wings — he’s certainly no Manning.

Should Manning end up at ESPN, it is unlikely Tirico will join him back there. Tirico’s replacement, Sean McDonough, seems to have job security at “Monday Night Football.”

James Pitaro, the brand new president of ESPN, has a tough call ahead of him. On the one hand, landing Manning fills a need and could make a huge first splash. On the other, overpaying for a guy to work a couple of times a year might be a bad deal for a company hemorrhaging cable subscribers.

Decisions, decisions.

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Fox Sports and ESPN declined comment when reached by TheWrap. We did not immediately hear back from our request for comment from Montag’s The Montag Group.

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Retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning is in talks with both Fox Sports and ESPN to become a color analyst for either “Thursday Night Football” or “Monday Night Football” games, TheWrap is told by multiple people with knowledge of the conversations.

Manning’s agent, Sandy Montag, is apparently looking for $10 million per year for his client’s services. That would be an enormous sum of money for the actual amount of work involved — but Manning’s star power and crossover appeal just might be worth it. After all, Fox just dropped $3.3 billion for those “Thursday Night Football” rights, so why stop writing massive checks now?

Plus, the “TNF” ratings have been pretty rough after the last few NFL seasons and a mainstream star might be just the kick in the pants the newest night in football needs.

And just one season into his own color commentator role at CBS Sports, retired Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo has kicked down the door and opened up wallets for the service’s of Papa John’s former BFF.

Beyond the $10 million price tag, Manning and Montag have another request — they’d like Mike Tirico as their play-by-play man. There’s just one problem with that: Tirico is currently employed by NBC Sports, the place he left ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” to be.

Tirico, who is also repped by Montag, is interested on heading to rival Fox once a week should this work out. Bob Costas’ Olympics successor actually wanted the “Thursday Night Football” gig when he moved to NBC, but the NFL blocked him, insisting instead on the primetime “Sunday Night Football” team of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth pulling double-duty.

Such an agreement would finally bring Tirico back to calling weekly NFL football. It also wouldn’t be unprecedented: Fox and ESPN currently share Alex Rodriguez for baseball, for example.

If the Tirico-share doesn’t work out, however, we’re told Joe Buck is also being considered to take on the new Thursday night duties (with or without Peyton), and will continue to work Sundays with Troy Aikman.

ESPN needs Manning even more on Mondays, however.

The self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader in Sports is losing popular “Monday Night Football” color analyst Jon Gruden back to the NFL, where he will again coach the Oakland Raiders. And ESPN doesn’t exactly have a ton of talent to backfill the crucial role: lesser-know Louis Riddick has expressed interest in taking over the spot, and while another ex-NFL quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck, is more of a name and also waiting in the wings — he’s certainly no Manning.

Should Manning end up at ESPN, it is unlikely Tirico will join him back there. Tirico’s replacement, Sean McDonough, seems to have job security at “Monday Night Football.”

James Pitaro, the brand new president of ESPN, has a tough call ahead of him. On the one hand, landing Manning fills a need and could make a huge first splash. On the other, overpaying for a guy to work a couple of times a year might be a bad deal for a company hemorrhaging cable subscribers.

Decisions, decisions.

Fox Sports and ESPN declined comment when reached by TheWrap. We did not immediately hear back from our request for comment from Montag’s The Montag Group.

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Olympics Closing Ceremony Review: Johnny Weir Chills Out At K-Pop Pageant

The well-wired Asian nation’s culture and technology was heavily on patriotic display tonight in NBC‘s coverage of the Closing Ceremony of the XXIII Winter Games. However, it was the music of South Korea that really owned the beat and heart of the tape-delayed event and almost turned the Olympics into the best Grammys show you’ve probably never seen…even as politics crept in.

“This is for all my bad girls around the world,” declared singer CL as the Closing Ceremony got…

The well-wired Asian nation's culture and technology was heavily on patriotic display tonight in NBC's coverage of the Closing Ceremony of the XXIII Winter Games. However, it was the music of South Korea that really owned the beat and heart of the tape-delayed event and almost turned the Olympics into the best Grammys show you've probably never seen…even as politics crept in. "This is for all my bad girls around the world," declared singer CL as the Closing Ceremony got…

Mikaela Shiffrin Finally Makes 2018 Olympics Debut; NBC Rues Florida School Shooting

Somewhat unintentionally laying on the hype like P.T. Barnum or a 1990s hip hop sideman, NBC tonight finally got to have Mikaela Shiffrin make her debut at the XXIII Winter Olympics with what could be the start of some sports history. The twice delayed skier’s primetime premiere on what was described as “the busiest day of the Games” was then followed by the network speaking to the high school shooting this morning.
A now captured former student of the Parkland, Florida…

Somewhat unintentionally laying on the hype like P.T. Barnum or a 1990s hip hop sideman, NBC tonight finally got to have Mikaela Shiffrin make her debut at the XXIII Winter Olympics with what could be the start of some sports history. The twice delayed skier’s primetime premiere on what was described as “the busiest day of the Games” was then followed by the network speaking to the high school shooting this morning. A now captured former student of the Parkland, Florida…

Mikaela Shiffrin’s Olympics Debut Blown Off Schedule For NBC, Again

The 2014 slalom gold medalist is one of the marquee names of the XXIII Winter Olympics but Mikaela Shiffrin today has once again been denied her debut at PyeongChang games.
Extreme weather had already pushed the skier’s giant slalom effort originally scheduled start in NBC‘s primetime coverage on Sunday off the books. Today, the plug was pulled on her title defending slalom outing. After a trio of delays due to strong winds, the decision to shut things down came an hour…

The 2014 slalom gold medalist is one of the marquee names of the XXIII Winter Olympics but Mikaela Shiffrin today has once again been denied her debut at PyeongChang games. Extreme weather had already pushed the skier's giant slalom effort originally scheduled start in NBC's primetime coverage on Sunday off the books. Today, the plug was pulled on her title defending slalom outing. After a trio of delays due to strong winds, the decision to shut things down came an hour…

Olympics Opening Ceremony Ratings Down From Sochi 2014, Beats Rio 2016

The actual white tiger and K-Pop filled Opening Ceremony of the XXIII Winter Olympics occurred early on Friday morning in PyeongChang and was widely streamed and disseminated by the time NBC put on its primetime show last night.
But with geopolitical tensions, VIP seating plans, 1,200 pre-recorded morphing drones, VR and the newly minted team of Katie Couric and Mike Tirico, the Comcast-owned net made the event seem almost as brand new and sparkling as the ice beneath…

The actual white tiger and K-Pop filled Opening Ceremony of the XXIII Winter Olympics occurred early on Friday morning in PyeongChang and was widely streamed and disseminated by the time NBC put on its primetime show last night. But with geopolitical tensions, VIP seating plans, 1,200 pre-recorded morphing drones, VR and the newly minted team of Katie Couric and Mike Tirico, the Comcast-owned net made the event seem almost as brand new and sparkling as the ice beneath…