March Madness: Dick Vitale Calls Zion Williamson the ‘Most Unique Player’ He’s Seen in 40 Years

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No one gets more fired up about March Madness than Dick Vitale.
The veteran ESPN college basketball analyst shared his contagious excitement with TheWrap ahead of the 2019 NCAA Tournament, dishing his tips on the Cinderella teams to watch out for, his …

‘Good Morning America’ Host Robin Roberts Will Anchor ABC NFL Draft Coverage

Read on: Deadline.

Ironically, a woman named after a baseball player will host ABC’s opening night presentation for the 2019 National Football League draft, marking its first coverage of the annual player dispersal.
Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts will be live…

ESPN Taps New York Yankees Pitcher CC Sabathia As Analyst During His Last Season

Read on: Deadline.

In an unusual arrangement, New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia will work as an analyst on ESPN TV and radio broadcasts during his final season in Major League Baseball.

Sabathia announced last month that 2019 will be his final season. A former Cy You…

New York Yankees Pitcher CC Sabathia Joins ESPN as Contributor

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CC Sabathia is already planning for retirement from baseball before he’s even put away his pitcher’s mitt.

The New York Yankees pitcher and Cy Young Award winner is joining ESPN as a contributor, the network announced on Tuesday. He will serve in a variety of roles beginning this season.

Having played in Yankees pinstripes since 2009, Sabathia, 38, said last month that he’ll retire from the team at the end of the 2019 season.

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“As I begin to look toward the future, I’m excited to have this opportunity with ESPN,” Sabathia said in a statement Tuesday. “With that said, my singular focus is on winning another World Series Championship for Yankees fans and the city of New York.”

“We’re excited to work with CC, especially as part of this unique arrangement during the final year of his storied career. He has proven to be highly knowledgeable, candid and perceptive about the sport of baseball, as well as an avid sports fan in general,” Dave Roberts, ESPN vice president, production, added.

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Also Read: Dick Vitale to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award at 40th Annual Sports Emmy Awards

Transitioning to his new role in sports media, Sabathia will contribute analysis to various ESPN platforms this season, including on “SportsCenter,” “Get Up!,” “First Take,” “Golic & Wingo” and occasionally “Baseball Tonight,” according to ESPN. He’ll appear in-studio for several of the appearances. In addition, he will periodically join ESPN Radio New York as a guest host on the “Humpty & Canty” show, which airs from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. ET.

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He will debut during ESPN’s spring training coverage later this month.

Sabathia made his big-league debut in 2001 with the Cleveland Indians, and went on to win a World Series with the Yankees in 2009.

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ESPN Lays Odds On Sports Betting With New One-Hour Show ‘Daily Wager’

Read on: Deadline.

With sports gambling becoming increasingly legal and common across the country, ESPN is moving to serve the demand with Daily Wager, a new one-hour news and information show about sports betting.
Starting March 11, the show will air Monday through Frid…

ESPN Sets Its First Gambling Show ‘Daily Wager’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

ESPN is placing its bet on gambling.

Later this month, the sports network will debut “Daily Wager,” its first gambling-themed series. The daily show, hosted by the network’s betting analyst Doug Kezirian, will air daily from 6 to 7 p.m. ET on ESPNews beginning March 11.

The series is said to be a news-and-information show that will focus on the two topics that sports betters care about — point spreads and money lines. Kezirian hosts a betting-themed podcast “Behind the Bets.”

Also Read: Cousin Sal on Sports Gambling: ‘You Can Either Shame Everybody Who Is Involved or Embrace It’

“ESPN’s mission is to serve sports fans,” Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president and executive editor, Studio Production, said in a statement Friday. “The sports betting environment has changed and interest is increasing at unprecedented levels. ESPN is going to have a strong and vibrant presence across our platforms, and the launch of Daily Wager is the next step in what has already been underway for some time.”

ESPN has already featured gambling-themed segments on its programming, most notably Scott Van Pelt’s “Bad Beats” segment during his midnight (ET, 9 p.m. PT) edition of “SportsCenter.” ESPN+ and ESPN.com have also featured gambling-related shows.

Also Read: Jason Witten Leaves ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football,’ Will Return to Dallas Cowboys – Yes, as a Player

Last May, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a federal ban on sports gambling, portending to a future that sees gambling legalized across most, if not all, of the 50 states. Since this landmark decision, both the NBA and NHL have signed betting sponsorship deals with MGM, signaling that professional sports will officially incorporate legalized gambling, once all 50 states have declared it legal.

Since then, seven states — Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island — have legalized sports gambling, joining Nevada, where gambling had been legal for years.

Last August, Fox Sports 1 debuted its first gambling program “Lock It In,” with “Jimmy Kimmel Live” alum “Cousin Sal” Iacono.

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Jason Witten Exits ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’ To Return To Dallas Cowboys

Read on: Deadline.

After one season in the broadcast booth for ESPN’s Monday Night Football, Jason Witten is heading back to the field for the Dallas Cowboys.
The network had brought in an entirely new broadcast team for the 2018 season, which was the 11-time Pro B…

Jason Witten Leaves ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football,’ Will Return to Dallas Cowboys – Yes, as a Player

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Jason Witten is leaving ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” booth and will return to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys as a player. Yeah, he’ll tight end once more.
“The fire inside of me to compete and play this game is just burn…

Dick Vitale to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award at 40th Annual Sports Emmy Awards

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Veteran ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports this year at the 40th Annual Sports Emmy Awards, it was announced Tuesday.

“To have my name listed among the giants in sports broadcasting and to receive this prestigious award leaves me speechless, and you probably know that doesn’t happen to me often,” Vitale, 79, said in statement.
“I’m in absolute awe, going from a jock in the locker room to 40 years and counting at ESPN to now being in the same group as many people I’ve idolized as a fan is incredible.”
“Dick Vitale is one of the most unique, effusive and recognizable voices in sports broadcasting today,” Adam Sharp, president and CEO, NATAS, continued.  “His knowledge, enthusiasm and love of the game is captured in every comment, call and catchphrase he creates.  He is a master behind the microphone and a great humanitarian.”
Having joined ESPN during the 1979-80 basketball season after a successful college and pro coaching career, Vitale has been a vibrant voice on the court for the past four decades, injecting his passion for the sport into every game.
The colorful sportscaster is known for his signature “Vitale-isms,” such as “Awesome, Baby!,” “Get a TO, Baby!” (call a timeout), “PTP’er” (prime-time player), “M & M’er” (a mismatch), “Rolls Roycer” (a flat out superstar), “diaper dandy” (freshman star), “All-Windex Performer” (ferocious rebounder) and “Maalox time” (the final minutes of a close game).
In 2008, Vitale was selected as an inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The 40th Annual Sports Emmy Awards will take place on Monday, May 20 at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City. Awards in more than 40 categories including Lifetime Achievement will be presented.
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Bob Costas Regrets Speaking to ESPN Over Getting Kicked From NBC’s Super Bowl Coverage

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Bob Costas tells ESPN in a story published Sunday that he has come to regret his tell-all interview about how he was removed from NBC’s Super Bowl LII coverage over his comments about concussions.

Costas has repeatedly spoken out both on-the-air and in public appearances about the frequency of concussions among football players and criticized the NFL about its dealing with it. In the televised interview on “Outside the Lines” and a companion story released Sunday by ESPN, reporter Mark Fainuru-Wada noted how concerned Costas was that he damaged his relationship with NBC by speaking out.

“What was surprising about Costas was not that he was concerned that he might offend anyone at NBC, but how concerned he was,” Fainuru-Wada wrote. “Over the past few months, rarely did a conversation take place without ‘Outside the Lines’ having to reassure Costas that the story would reflect his respect and admiration for his colleagues, and that he held no ill will toward them or NBC.”

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“In the end,” Fainuru-Wada continued, “Costas says he regretted ever taking part in the story; not because he regretted his comments about football, but because of the strain it created around his relationships with NBC colleagues.”

Fainuru-Wada also noted that Costas had repeatedly insisted that he holds no ill feelings towards NBC for removing him from Super Bowl coverage, and added that ESPN repeatedly reassured the sportscaster that the story would not suggest that he was bitter towards NBC.

“It’s very fair and very amicable,” Costas told ESPN about his departure from NBC last year. “It was a very, very fruitful run of nearly four decades, and I have nothing but respect and appreciation for all of it.”

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Costas spoke out frequently about the danger of serious head injuries in the sport, even before the National Football League admitted to the problem. At a journalism symposium at the University of Maryland he said, “The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains — not everyone’s, but a substantial number.”

After speaking about the issue again on CNN, he received a text from NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood, telling him he would not appear on the network’s Super Bowl broadcast in early 2018.

“I recall the phrase, ‘It’s a six-hour, daylong celebration of football, and you’re not the right person to celebrate football,’” Costas said. “To which my response was not, ‘Oh please, please, change your mind.’ My response was, ‘Yeah, I guess you’re right.’”

“I was completely comfortable with it, I had no personal stake in hosting, I was happy football was in my rearview mirror.”

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