Jeff Pearlman

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Now that I no longer write for …

… I figured I’d make a list. TOP 10 THINGS THAT IRK ME ABOUT ESPN.

1. Chris Berman‘s nicknames.

2. The way they celebrated distance and strength and power well after steroids were obvious.

3. That they gave Barry Bonds a reality show.

4. Around the f*&%ing Horn.

5. Stephen A. Smith—a man who insists on the A.

6. The way they treated Mike Freeman after his excellent tell-all book on the network.

7. Stuart Scott and his worn-out late-90s lingo.

8. Ron Jaworski. I know, I know—he’s supposed to be amazing and all. But I just can’t listen.

9. The way they hyped Terrell Owens until there was nothing left to hype.

10. Having a non-print journalist host the Sports Reporters.

  • 11. The way they treated Harold Reynolds, the best baseball analyst they have.

    12. Why is Fernando Vina one of their analysts when they were so against steroids in sports? Still no apologies from the man.

    13. Stu Scott

    14. Joe Morgan

    Sorry, just had to add to it.

  • this list could be 50 items long. i don’t agree with Jaws (#8) though. i think he’s the most knowledgeable, least gas bagging football analyst they have. it’s X’s and O’s with him, something we could use more of and less opinion’s like Morty and Clayton.

  • 15. karl ravech

  • Preach it! FWIW, Orson Swindle at EveryDayShouldBeSaturday has an even longer list.

  • 15. Who’s Now?

    16. TitleTown.

    17. John Clayton’s combover.

  • Matt

    But… Vina did apoligize right after the Mitchell report. It may have been disengenuous, and maybe he shouldn’t still have a job, but he did.

    13. He listed Stu Scott. He is number seven. Did you even read this list Rangers Nation? Is this how Micheal Young win’s Gold Gloves?

    Oh, and Reynolds onair skills shouldn’t have any bearing on sexual harassment firings… though apparently Woody Paige’s talents kept him safe.

  • Tom

    They way they have gotten away from reporting on sports to debating about sports. And inane predictions. They are like the weather channel, they make mostly erroneous guesses and then blithely carry on to the next one.


    Steve Phillips

  • Michael

    I can name 100…

    15. Cris Carter
    16. Keyshawn Johnson
    17. Mike and Mike
    18. Linda Cohn
    19. Chris Berman

  • THardey

    What amazes me is that you were able to limit the list to just 10 irks.

  • Tony B.

    Totally agree about Jaworski. Simply, he is a weirdo. Stop trying so hard, you weirdo.

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  • Fact Person

    Actually, some might even go as far to say that Joe Morgan should be relieved of his duties.

    You know, some people.

  • ACMEsalesrep

    15: Rick Reilly. There are several reasons why I let my SI subscription lapse, but he was one of them.

  • Iceman_Spaceman

    15. They do stupid lists like “Who’s Now”, and the “50 States” thing they did, and even there “Mt. Rushmore” dealy they have going currently.

    16. Skip Bayless, Jay Crawford, Dana Jacobsen. Those three are the least knowledgable, dislikable personalities on pretty much all of television, and they are all on the same show. Which itself is awful.

    17. I think Rachel Nichols is pretty hot, but i can’t stand how she is always the Brett Favre, go to field reporter.

    18. ESPN’s constant coverage of Brett Favre, and there “will he or won’t he retire,” coverage has actually made me care less about Brett Favre.

    19. Sportscenter has commercials like every 3 minutes.

    20. Sportscenter will have cliffhangers like, “See who was ejected from the Indiana- Ohio State game and had to be escorted by armed security after the break.” 30 minutes later they finally get to it.

    21. MMA Live isn’t aired on TV.

    22. Chris Berman in general, he bothers me to my wits end.

    23. How they show womens sports and scores. Two things about that, men don’t care about womens sports! And women don’t watch Sportscenter to see womens’ highlights unless they actually played in the game SC is highlighting.

  • I actually kinda like Joe Morgan and Jaws is ok by me.

    I think you could summarize all of ESPN’s problems by just pointing out that it is entirely commercial now. Perhaps once it was about journalism, but now it is all about sale and marketing. Why pay Skip Bayless, Stephen A, or any of the douches on Around the Horn to launch into idiotic diatribes? Because it gets attention and boosts ratings, which means more $$$.

    What makes ESPN worse than other entities that are also bottom line oriented is that sports is very much like a religion in our society so they know they can pretty much do whatever they want and true sports fan will be unable to change the channel because where else can you get your sports fix? So they can crap on true sports fans and go after quasi sports fans or sports fans that think sports is antithetical to intellectualism with retarded programing and announcers.

    But that’s just my thoughts. Anyway, really cool that you made this list. Good luck with your post-WW”L” career.

  • Nitin

    15. “Who’s Now” and every other stupid gimmick they’ve added on to the bloated corpse that’s all that’s left of Sportscenter. Just give me scores, highlights, news, and analysis. And when I say “news”, I don’t mean the same stupid ticker headline about Michael Phelps’ bong hit scrolling across the bottom of screen every 15 seconds, all day long.

  • Gus

    I’d add

    15. The northeastern sportswriters like Gammons, Olney and Kurkijan who never take a stand on the juicers when it was patently obvious that it was destroying the competitive balance of the game and then say, how could I say anything? I have no proof. Proof was right before your eyes; my fantasy league had it factored in by 1995; Fenway fans called it when they saw canseco in the 1988 playoffs.

    16. The fact that Sportscenter covers only ESPN/ABC affiliated sports.

    17. That they bow to Bob Knight at every available moment.

    18. That the winning pitcher of two games of the world series was juicing, baseball knew it and still couldn’t suspend him in time — and that this is given less time than whether Sports Nation thinks UF or OU will win the BCS game on Sportscenter.

  • brocktoon

    thank you for including Ron Jaworski. everyone goes gaga for him and his analysis, but he talks like the most annoying know-it-all at any party and he ends every thought like he’s finishing a story “live from the scene” which leaves no easy transition back to anyone else for additional comment or follow-up. every time he’s done talking, i keep waiting for Mike Tirico to start in with “Thanks, Jaws. In local news, another school board meeting descended into violence today….”

  • One of the reasons I decided to become a sports writer was because of the “Sports Reporters.” I remember watching the show, hosted by Dick Shaap, with my dad on Sunday mornings. I would think, ‘These guys are who I hope to become one day.’

    Now I watch it and hang my head in shame that I’m sports writer.

  • Kevin

    Man, great list. Berman and Stu Scott suck. Agree with all but Around the Horn and Jaws.

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  • 15. Everything Brett Favre

    16. Not giving credit to real story-breakers with “ESPN has learned..” and “Sources:..”

  • Ed

    But they weren’t apparently so lame when you were taking their money I guess.

  • Lee M.

    15. Ultra-creepy Paul Lukas and his unhealthy obsession with pro sports uniforms. Reminds me of a grown man in a comic book shop browsing the ultra-violent Japanimation section, except Lukas seemingly get his rocks off on double-knits and triple stitches.

    16. Bill Simmons – specifically all Karate Kid, Teen Wolf, Shawshank, and Rounders references (which have a 95% probability of being included in any given column these days).

    17. Greg Easterbrook. Long, verbose columns do not a good TMQ make. There’s something delightful about making your point in the lead in less than 10 paragraphs. E.B. White shakes his fist at you angrily.

  • Old & Grumpy

    Dickie V.–More surgery needed. Along the lines of Roger Ebert!!

  • Marc

    Trey Wingo. He’s just not funny, yet he keeps trying.

  • Marc

    …and Emmitt Smith. I can’t bear to listen to him speak. He sounds like he has a speech impediment.

  • JD Rollins

    Steve Philips. When you have Gammons, Olney, Kurkijan – why do they constantly go to a failed GM for expert analysis?

  • illneckbeard

    Numbers 4, 5, and 7 should have been numbers 1 through 200. And no mention of how they’ve ‘added’ Rick Reilly and his achingly late-to-the-party ‘exposes’ on shit everybody under 45 already knew about, liked, and is sick of by te time he even brings it up.

  • anonymous

    @ 6 I read the Freeman book before I joined the WWL. I think it was spot on.

    Pearlman. Great job on the Cowboys book too.

  • John

    LOU HOLTZ! The idiocy spewing from this tired old fuck who does nothing but play contrarian makes me sick.


    33. “ESPN Hollywood” with Thea Andrews and Slater. Just dreadful.

    34. The fake press conferences they ran two years ago on SportsCenter featuring Steve Phillips as each team’s GM, taking “questions” from Jeremy Schaap, Linda Cohn, etc. Dreadful…though it might have been worth it to see the pained look on Schaap’s face as he took part in it.

    35. Dave O’Brien doing play-by-play during the 2006 World Cup.

    36. Mike and Mike pumping up Arena Football at every turn when ESPN got the rights to it last year. Though the occasional Golic Freudian slips about suddenly taking the sport seriously were great.

    37. video launching unprompted when you visit the site.

    38. Not breaking up the Sunday Night NFL announcing crew until they lost the Sunday night package…as much as I enjoyed listening to Theismann, Mike Patrick and Paul Maguire disagree about something that they had just agreed on a few minutes earlier.

  • Steve

    11. Anyone remember Stuart Scott’s “Poetry Jam”

    12. I know the NHL isn’t mainstream anymore but it doesn’t even exist on ESPN

    13. Endless NBA coverage. Nobody watches until the playoffs.

  • JB

    39. Reilly’s new Go Fish “blog” feature. Awful.
    40. The Mount Rushmore of Sports
    41. Mike and Mike can’t be on this list enough.
    42. Lee Corso

  • jim

    the incessant pimping of every fucking product possible: bud light hotseat, home depot college gameday, EA ridiculous life size video game thing on sunday nfl show, all the deodorant and shit they sell on the monday nite countdown. espn is completely unwatchable.

  • Adam

    #43 Teams other than the Red Sox play baseball. I don’t think that ESPN knows that.

  • Woody Paige and Skip Clueless. May the both get slowely and painfully sucked down the drains of a peep show bathroom.

  • Dave

    Nice to see others who feel the same as I do

    -Steve Phillips – a failed GM
    -Mike and Mike- not only do they not say anything of substance, what a conflict of interest for Greenberg to do this show, then sportscenter that night
    -Stu Scott-unwatchable
    -Kornheiser on MNF
    -Cindy Brunson-unwathable
    -Trey Wingo-tries to be funny
    -Mark Schlereth-shows incredible bias all the time. should have been fired for how he acted after the spygate tapes were released
    -Vitale-unlistenable. Thank god he can’t do the NCAA tourney game
    -I could go on. I only watch for highlights. As a news organization, they have NO credibility

  • Joe

    1-100: Chris Berman. Guys who have been around that long have to at least try something new once in a while. They could hire an imitator for far less and if the guy has at least two firing synapses he’d probably freshen it up a bit.

  • Anything and everything aimed at establishing “corporate synergy” with Disney. Running thinly veiled “news” items on SC regarding the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie or Dancing With The Stars is simply ridiculous. The downward slide of ESPN can be traced right back to the day Disney got their hooks in.

  • Chris

    15. Former writers trying to get attention by bashing their former employers.
    16. Sports writers that write a book about the Dallas Cowboys (most recognized sports team/Americas team) and then ridicules ESPN for being commercial

  • Mike

    You are soo right about Chris Berman, Around the Horn(any show that keeps Jay Mariotti employed is a joke!), Stephen A. Smith(if you want to become a rapper, then do it, but get out of my face on TV!),Stuart Scott is unwatchable(booo-yahhh!)
    And the whole Eastern Elitism thing they have. Unless you are within driving distance of ESPN studios, you dont exist as far as they are concerned. Oh, yes, Dickie V has passed the novelty phase into just plain annoying a long time ago! I could go on and on, but I dont have time.

  • Gen. Stoopnagle

    Did anyone mention “SportsCenter IN-GAME” and “SportsCenter RIGHT NOW”? Dear dumbasses: I’m watching a college football game because I care about it – I’m not watching the NBA on ESPN2 because I could not care less.

    I also don’t care to be updated every 15 minutes and miss what I am watching to hear about some roid freak’s latest homerun or, more likely, what the Yankees did today.

    Also, the bottom line has got to go.

  • Russ

    #xx – The unabashed knobwashery of all things Tebow and FL. At least they quit humming on USC and Carroll (for now).

  • General Sherman

    #16 That sanctamonious little snot, Jeremy Schapp. “You’ve got a long way to go to become your father.”

  • Art Van delay

    11. Stuart Scott
    12. Chris Berman
    13. Stuart Scott
    14. Chris Berman
    15. Stuart Scott
    16. Chris Berman
    17. Stuart Scott
    18. Chris Berman
    19. Stuart Scott
    20. Chris Berman
    21. Stuart Scott
    22. Chris Berman
    23. Stuart Scott
    24. Chris Berman
    25. Stuart Scott
    26. Chris Berman
    27. Stuart Scott
    28. Chris Berman
    29. Stuart Scott
    30. Chris Berman

  • SJ

    ummmm… Favre! Way too much

  • Thad

    The fact that they do commercials with sports players. Where’s the objectivity!!

  • Cincy south-sider

    -Yankees v Red Sox
    -Duke v NC
    -All things Dallas Cowboys
    -Brett Favre (like Rick Flair, won’t just go away)
    -Skipped coverage of 2009 Orange Bowl on New Years Day pre game shows because it was on Fox
    -When the top play is actually four or five plays, huh?

  • magadog

    eSPN is unwatchable and and there are literally hundreds of things to dislike about it. That being said, you hit on very few of them. How about how they have become nothing more then a promotional show for Nike athletes. Or how they employed the least talented people in the business, Linda Cohn, Dana Jacobson, Robert Florez, Trey Wingo etc

Showtime Book
Love Me, Hate Me Barry Bonds Book
Sweetness Walter Peyton Book
The Bad Guys Won Book
The Rocket that Fell to Earth Book
Boys Will Be Boys Book

Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life