SBD/January 27, 2011/Media

People & Personalities: Stephen A. Smith Close To Rejoining ESPN?

Smith previously hosted show on ESPN 1050 from '05-08
In N.Y., Bob Raissman cites sources as saying that Stephen A. Smith is "closing in on a deal" with ESPN that would "initially have him doing a radio talk show" on ESPN Radio 1050 N.Y. A station official "would not offer any comment concerning Smith, including if he's on the verge of signing a contract." Raissman notes Smith first appeared on ESPN in '03 and had a show on ESPN Radio1050 from '05-08 before he left ESPN in April '09. However, Smith "didn't completely burn his bridge to ESPN," which is "why he appears so close to returning" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/27).

PAYING THE PRICE: The GUARDIAN's Matt Scott notes ESPN used analyst Andy Gray during its U.S. coverage of Euro '08, but following Gray's firing from Sky Sports over sexist comments ESPN has "given a strong hint that it will not offer Gray a route back into football commentary" either in the U.K. or the U.S. Gray also appeared on Fox' U.S. UEFA Champions League coverage, as Fox Soccer Channel "used Gray through a Sky feed." Last season's UEFA Champions League final carried the Sky Sports broadcast, and a Fox spokesperson said, "We plan to do it again this year, whoever they are." Meanwhile, Gray "has been the voice of EA Sports' FIFA franchise of football games for a number of years without interruption." An EA spokesperson said, "EA Sports has not made any announcements about our in-game commentators for FIFA for 2011. Those announcements will be made later this year." Scott: "That is far from a ringing endorsement for an organisation that has previously used Gray's services as a matter of routine" (GUARDIAN, 1/27).

OVER THE TOP:'s Jon Wertheim in his Australian Open mailbag fielded a question from a reader who found ESPN's Chris Fowler's "mocking" of Stanislas Wawrinka during his quarterfinal against Roger Federer to be "unprofessional and disrespectful." Wertheim agreed it was "completely excessive," as losing to Federer is not like "squandering a golden opportunity by playing subpar tennis [against] some qualifier." Wertheim added it was not Wawrinka's "best day at the office ... but it didn't look to me as though he [was] tanking." He also wrote that for a "tomato can," as Fowler described Wawrinka, beating Andy Roddick and Gael Monfils "still makes for a solid tournament" (, 1/26).

SHOWING HOW IT'S DONE:'s Brian Lowry wrote Fox NFL analyst Troy Aikman "has become a kind of template for deftly transitioning from the field to the broadcast booth." He "specializes in covering games in a manner that seldom draws attention to himself." Lowry: "'Colorful' certainly isn't a term that applies to Aikman. ... 'Staid competence' is more like it -- somebody who doesn't get in the way of the action and even dares to be a little bit boring" (, 1/25).

GET WELL SOON: TSN host James Duthie is "on the sidelines with post-concussion syndrome after a recent ski accident." His "estimated time of recovery in unknown" (, 1/27).
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