Tag Archives: Stephen A. Smith

Leicester City: The Greatest Sports Story. Ever.

 

By Nate Flax

As the clock hit the 96th minute of the Tottenham – Chelsea match, the entire soccer world realized that the greatest underdog story in sport history had concluded. After trailing 2-0 at halftime, Chelsea came back to draw with the second place Tottenham Hotspur, thanks to a brilliant 80th minute equalizer by Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. As the final whistle blew to end the heated London Derby, Tottenham’s title hopes were dashed and for the second year in a row, a new Premier League champion was decided at Stamford Bridge. However, this time it wasn’t one of England’s heavyweight contenders, but instead a club that had been written off before the season even started.

Leicester City

Located right in the heart of England, world-famous clubs, always surrounded Leicester with Manchester just to the North and London to the South, but until this year, very few that did not follow the BPL closely even knew a soccer club existed there, even though the team was founded in 1884 (132 years ago). The Leicester City Foxes were simply insignificant, finishing at the bottom of the table the year before and had only received promotion into England’s top league the year before that. They entered the season 5000-1 odds to win the title this year and featured a team that had cost just £80 million to put together (to put in perspective Manchester City spent £80 million on one transfer alone earlier in the year). Billy Beane’s Moneyball scheme wouldn’t stand a chance against this. Other recent previous 5000-1 odds as explained by ESPN’s Paul Carr included 16-year-old Paul Chaplet’s chances at this year’s Masters (where he shot 21 over par and finished dead last) and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ chances to make the playoffs with a month left in the season and their record sitting at 14-35. The odds for Elvis Presley being found alive were also 5000-1.

Being written off before the season even started, Leicester really had no chance of failing any expectations given to them, quite frankly because there were no expectations to start with. But that’s when everything clicked. Led by Riyad Mahrez, Danny Drinkwater, Jamie Vardy, and seasoned manager Claudio Ranieri, the Foxes outdid themselves by continuing to be that pesky opponent that just wouldn’t give up even though they seemingly had no business competing with powerhouses like Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea. Yet somehow, with Chelsea holding Tottenham to a draw, Leicester City sat seven points clear on top of the table with just two games to play, making it impossible for anyone to catch them, and crowning them the kings of England. With the third smallest budget in the Premier League, the Foxes became the first team not named Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, or Chelsea in 21 years to win the title, and just the sixth to win out of 48 that have tried since 1992. After a season that proved that money can’t always guarantee a crown, Leicester City concluded the fairy tale of a season that underdogs could previously only dream of.

Welcome to Oregon East

By Kaleb Page

March 16, 2015

Chip Kelly is the mad scientist. The man who crafted an offensive barrage at Oregon that to this day is still taking flight. His genius at the highest level of college football gained the recognition of those in the NFL, and in 2013 the Philadelphia Eagles came after him (eventually landing him).

Well it has only been two seasons in ‘the city of brotherly love,’ and right now there could be an interesting question to ask the Eagles faithful.

Feeling some buyer’s remorse?

How could a coach who went back to back seasons with a 10-6 record get the feeling of being ousted by his own fan base? As they say it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only seconds to ruin it. Well, I guess the same could be said about perceive coaching knowledge or even grasp of what makes a great team.

You could say it all started with the head scratching move to trade one of the top running backs in the league (LeSean McCoy) for a young talented linebacker named Kiko Alonso. Now the interesting thing about this is how Alonso once was an Oregon Duck. The roster now consists of seven former Ducks who played under Kelly at Oregon.

While allegiance is a good quality in some aspects, it can be a problem when it comes at the expense of talent in a bottom line league like the NFL. If you don’t pay attention you could be packing your bags fairly soon.

Oh but wait there’s more!

Tuesday, when free agency officially began in the NFL, a move was made by Kelly that was the pièce de résistance on the head scratching display.

Kelly put in the trade with the St. Louis for Sam Bradford. Who are they giving up in return for Bradford? None other than their starting quarterback Nick Foles.

Foles in 2013 had an amazing year at quarterback, throwing for 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions. That year was a pleasant surprise as Foles was a mid-round selection by the team in 2012 and didn’t have high expectations coming out of Arizona. While Foles battled with injuries just like Bradford, Foles had much more success that showed promise for more seasons like the one in 2013.

Trading for a quarterback that in his five-year career has had multiple knee surgeries and only a record of 18-30-1 as a starter, while giving up on a young prospect that has real promise; definitely is a head scratching move put on by Kelly.

Whether you look on ESPN, Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, etc. there are plenty that are sharing the sentiment of: Does this guy know what he’s doing?

Even Stephen A. Smith going as far to say racism played a factor in these moves by Kelly to get rid of guys like Trent Cole, Jeremy Maclin, Cary Williams and LeSean McCoy. All of which are black athletes that were not signed back with the team. Essentially marked as not fitting the scheme or direction just like when the team released Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson in previous years. Something Smith finds quite suspect.

While I won’t go that extreme as Mr. Smith to say Kelly is being racist, I will say that Kelly better know what he is doing with these questionable moves. As I said before in this post, the NFL is a bottom line league and if Kelly isn’t careful this whole image of a genius can be tarnished. It could very well lead to Kelly seeing his way out of the league.

I guess only time will tell if these moves are good and will actually make for a successful Eagles squad in 2015.

As for now hang in there Eagles fans, it could be much worse.

Embrace debate helping or hurting ESPN

 BY ANTHONY ALFORD

Is it more important for a show to be defined by creditability and integrity, or by ratings and attention? That is the issue for ESPN2’s two-hour morning show, First Take, starring Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith. Initially, this program was designed to be a lighter, general interest counterpart to ESPN’s Sportscenter. But the ratings never supported the format and First Take was in danger of being canceled. But then came Tim Tebow and the show went from respectable, but irreverent to a joke with high ratings.

The show’s tagline “embrace debate” has caused conflict among the ESPN networks. This show should be a flop considering the personalities of it stars. Stephen A. Smith is a loudmouth who wins arguments by talking louder than everyone else in the room. Skip Bayless is considered by many to be a joke. He takes the unpopular opinion just to get attention, not because his opinion is actually logical and correct. He uses his daily two-hour platform to openly cheer for Tebow, call LeBron James overrated and challenge athletes to “debate” him.

Last week, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman took the bait and debated Bayless. Sherman’s main adjective was ripping Bayless during their entire debate. And while Bayless-haters believe this was a win for Sherman, this was really a win for Bayless and First Take. In fact, as ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd explains, this was a “walk-off grand slam” for Bayless because Sherman gave Bayless an endless amount of free promotion and attention.

According to ESPN, First Take has increased its total viewership by 21 percent between 2011 and 2012. The big number is their target audience of males, ages 18-34, which is very attractive to advertisers. Between 2011 and 2012, First Take gained 32 percent in viewership in the male 18-34 demographic.

Given the show’s success, it has impacted viewership for SportsCenter. According to Nielsen data, Sportscenter (10-11 a.m.) led First Take in ratings by 636,000 viewers in September 2011. However, the difference between the two shows decreased dramatically as First Take offered more time to Tim Tebow when he was quarterback for the Denver Broncos. By March 2012, when Tim Tebow was traded to the New York Jets, Sportscenter only led by 182,000 viewers according to Nielson data. First Take is no longer a secondary option; it became Sportscenter’s competition.

Since that time, the morning Sportscenter has taken on a debate flair of its own. Most recently, ESPN analysts debated which win streaks between the NBA’s Miami Heat and the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks is better.

First Take has certainly put a dark cloud over ESPN and its flagship program. This is ill-timed considering it will have competition later this year from Fox Sports 1, Fox’s new 24-hour sports network. The ratings are certainly increasing, however the ESPN and Sportscenter brands are losing creditability by the day. The answer is not eliminating First Take as many media writers have suggested. Instead, the morning Sportscenter must improve the quality of its show so it’s not competing with its ESPN2 counterpart. Limit the worthless debate segments and present an intelligent program that Sportscenter is capable of producing.

Media goes into uproar after NYC Marathon called

BY DANE WINDISCH

The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy was one that left the Northeastern part of the U.S. in recovery mode. Many sporting events were impacted by Sandy’s aftermath, including the prestigious New York City Marathon.

Officials planned to continue with the marathon until New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called it off, which sent an uproar throughout the media and social network sites.

Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith of ESPN First Take weighed in on the pros and cons of canceling the race.

Smith questioned having tens of thousands of people running through streets in a city where thousands of people don’t have power or even drinking water. Smith also provided how they would be using generators for some of the tents during the race and how it would be extremely disrespectful to do when so many have no power.

Bayless agreed with everything Smith said, but he thought the race should continue as scheduled because of how many runners will be flocking to the NYC area. He argued the money participants would bring to the city could have helped generate recovery funds. Bayless also argued the cancelation would hurt the runners who have been training for months.

Bloomberg later made an announcement the NYC Marathon would be postponed due to public outcry.

I believe it was the right choice, but I was pleased when Bayless offered his opinion on why the race should continue when the majority of analysts on sport media were very much against it. 

First Take a ‘must watch’

BY MATTHEW OSTROW

The setup of ESPN’s debate show is Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless discussing various issues in sports with Jay Crawford as host.  Stephen A. and Skip are both strong personalities who constantly take stances on the current issues in sports.  Both make very bold claims constantly, which makes for an entertaining show.

Earlier in the year, after Scottie Pippen said Lebron James is the best player ever, Stephen A. was very angry. He responded, “Scottie Pippen ought to be banned from Chicago for the day.” Stephen A. has also called former Raider’s quarterback Jamarcus Russell, “Jabba the Hut, lazy fat slob.”  It is statements like this that make Stephen A. a television personality people either love or love to hate.

Skip has become one of the most vocal people in the media giving Lebron James grief.  Skip has gone on to call Lebron names such as, “the Frozen One” and “Prince James.” This baffles Stephen A. Smith who is a pretty big Lebron supporter.  Stephen A. often uses words such a blasphemous and absolutely ridiculous.  Sometimes, while Skip makes his point, Stephen A. pretends to fall asleep or look at his phone. 

The issue with First Take is, at times, it can become more about whose prediction was right and not about the actual sporting event.  Nonetheless, the show has become something fans talk about during the actual sporting event.  During the final game of the NBA finals, after Lebron won, many people were very excited to see what Skip would say about it. 

First Take is one of the most entertaining sport talk shows on television.  With celebrity guests and the larger-than-life characters, First Take has become must watch sports entertainment.