It’s been a long, nine week timeout! No live events has left a void in the hearts of sports enthusiasts worldwide. Estimated financial losses collectively are at least $12 billion .
ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt put it clearly, “People feel robbed of something they care about” and no longer have sports “to escape some of life’s reality.” It’s evident that fans want a return of sports even if it means no fans in the stands.
Some engaging sports podcasts and interviews are still finding ways to reach fans even without the games. These are highlights of the more spirited on-air takes and comments this week:
Floyd Landis and Sarah Spain (ESPN Interview covering 30 for 30, ‘Lance’)
- Whistleblower Floyd Landis admits to Sarah Spain that he does indeed have some empathy for Lance Armstrong. He emphasizes that within minutes, Armstrong went from being an accomplished, beloved and world-renowned cyclist to becoming the visible culprit of a center stage doping scandal. Both Landis and Armstrong suffered public humiliation as a result of it and Landis recognizes that the experience was traumatizing. But he does not regret revealing his and Armstrong’s secret to the American public in 2010. Landis says that he was no longer comfortable lying about the doping that involved members of the U.S. cycling team including headliner Armstrong. He opens up saying that he “had to come clean and tell the truth.”
- When Landis first accused Armstrong of doping, he was not sure if anyone would believe him. But he no longer holds any hard feelings against Lance, and “hopes [Armstrong] finds some peace in his life.” Floyd expresses his high praise for Armstrong and refers to him as “an extraordinarily good athlete and the best cyclist that [he has] ever raced with.” Armstrong had a different personality than most cyclists because he was very outgoing with his fans and the public.
- Landis is unsure of how he himself will be portrayed in ESPN’s new 30 for 30 documentary, LANCE which begins airing this Sunday, May 24 at 9:00 PM. Landis refers to Armstrong as being an “intense competitor who was focused on what he was doing.”
The Herd with Colin Cowherd (FOX Sports)
- Cowherd doesn’t appreciate the fact that people feel the need to psychoanalyze Michael Jordan since The Last Dance ended on Sunday. Some individuals are attempting to decipher and critique all of Jordan’s relationships, but the reality is that Jordan was an unbelievable basketball player who had an amazing bond with both his mom and dad, Phil Jackson, and Dean Smith (Jordan’s coach at UNC). Jordan is also a great father to his son and daughter. Furthermore, he remains close with his agent, David Falk.”
- In the last three years, Russell Wilson has thrown for 100 TD passes, which is 15 more than Tom Brady who threw the second most TD passes during the same time span. Russell Wilson “blows away everyone in the league.” On the other hand, Dak Prescott, who had better WR weapons and the benefit of an offensive coach in Jason Garrett, threw for 74 TDs during the same time-frame. Cowherd insists that Prescott had no right to turn down a $175 million contract and that the Cowboys should “let him walk” (5 years at $35M per year). Prescott is attempting to extend his contract beyond the coming season after which the pact ends. Cowherd explains that young QBs are often underpaid in their first few years in the league. Russell Wilson makes the same amount of money as the proposed dollar figure that Prescott declined, and Wilson significantly outperforms him on the field.
- Unlike a majority of individuals who feel that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be a competitive franchise during the 2020-21 NFL campaign, Cowherd opined that he no longer thinks of the Steelers as a “great organization.” He predicts that their record will be somewhere around 7-9. The Steelers offensive line is aging, and Ben Roethlisberger is coming off an injury. He’s also thrown the greatest number of interceptions in the NFL since 2015. Colin also believes that the Steelers organization is not evolving and adapting like the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, and Philadelphia Eagles.
The Bill Simmons Podcast – The Ringer
- Simmons is joined by Ryen Russillo. They lament how much they miss sports. The guys are optimistic though and feel encouraged about the NBA potentially returning somewhat soon. NBA stars such as LeBron James and Chris Paul began to voice their positions on the fact that they desire the 2019-20 season to resume. The NBA Players Association seems to be on the same page. The question in Simmons and Russillo’s minds is how the league can fuel excitement for the end of the season and develop a wave of enthusiasm going into the playoffs.
- On the contrary, MLB is more of a wild-card. Issues like salary negotiations, having no fans in the stands and the number of games cut in half must be answered and negotiated before the first pitch is thrown. Is it worth the risk to begin playing games? Although the Covid curve is flattening, is it safe to proceed?
- Considering announcers will be working remotely, although nothing has been announced officially yet, Simmons and Russillo wonder if ESPN would implement a strategy similar to what the network did for the College Football National Championship. Then, ESPN had additional feeds to supplement the mainstream call. For the college title game, the hometown broadcasts (LSU and Clemson) were also made available. It broadened the audio menu.
Pardon My Take (Barstool Sports)
- Dan Katz discusses episodes 9 & 10 of The Last Dance and feels that his experience watching the documentary was the closest he felt to sports as a whole during the course of the last two months. He was fascinated by Steve Kerr’s story relating to the passing of Kerr’s father and how similar the story was to the passing of Michael Jordan’s father. Kerr and Jordan never spoke about the similarities, but ESPN did an incredible job following up Kerr’s story by showcasing Steve’s game winning shot in Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals, off a beautiful assist from Michael Jordan.
- Katz reminisces: When Jordan grew older during his career, he used “his full bag of tricks to lead the Bulls to their 6th.” Equally important to one another, Jordan used his skill-set and athletic prowess along with his court vision and knowledge of the game to ultimately win the 1998 championship over the Utah Jazz.
- Karl Malone joins the podcast. When Katz asks Malone if he has watched any episodes of The Last Dance, Malone laughs and claims that he has not watched the documentary and does not want to re-live his championship defeats. Later in the segment, Katz inquires of Malone on the meaning behind his nickname, “The Mailman.” Malone chuckles and relays that the nickname was given to him because of his physical presence and tendency to showcase amazing performances night in and night out. Like the mail, which is delivered in rain, snow, sleet, or hail, Malone played big no matter the circumstances.
Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz (ESPN)
- Jeff Passan joins Dan Le Batard and expresses his stance on whether MLB will ever begin the 2020-21 season. Passan insists that it is impossible to implement every single safety precaution and social distancing restriction. From players standing six feet apart during the national anthem to no spitting and from no chewing of sunflower seeds to no dipping tobacco, Passan believes that starting the season is not feasible with all of these rules in place.
- Passan is skeptical over MLB’s plans in place. Players will be forced to stay in hotel rooms during road trips and be limited with their activities, even simply exploring and enjoying the visiting city. However, if players, owners, and team personnel want to play ball, they will have to follow the rules and the season can hopefully get underway. So much pressure will be put on doctors. So, if players can get back on the field, will they be punished if they oppose a new regulation that’s been implemented?
Floyd Landis and Sarah Spain: http://www.espn.com/espnradio/play?id=29196711
The Herd with Colin Cowherd: https://www.foxsports.com/watch/the-herd-with-colin-cowherd/video
The Bill Simmons Podcast – The Ringer: https://www.theringer.com/the-bill-simmons-podcast