SBJ/Dec. 9-15, 2013/Anniversary Special Issue

They said what?!?

When it comes to sports, we like to watch – and listen. And we’ve heard plenty that has perked up our ears. Here are some of our favorites from 20 years of sports chatter.

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The awkward exchange between Harry Smith and Floyd Landis
CBS “Early Show” anchor Harry Smith in June 2007 interviewed cyclist Floyd Landis and had an apparent Freudian slip as the pair discussed Landis’ hip surgery. Smith said, “No pain, because you had testosterone shots while you were on the [Tour de France] last year.” Landis, laughing, replied, “No, I had no testosterone shots, to be clear.” Smith: “I mean, not testosterone. I’m sorry. Cortisone.” Landis: “Cortisone shots, yes.” Smith [under his breath]: “Oh, my God.”

Michael Jordan shows no mercy
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Michael Jordan let it all go as a player, and that attitude carried over to his Basketball Hall of Fame speech in September 2009. He sarcastically thanked those who had doubted him at various times in his career and denounced the media. Many commentators felt Jordan lacked class with the speech, while others defended it as merely emblematic of the competitive drive that took Jordan to the pinnacle of the game.

Steve Levy’s Disc-ue
One of the most classic miscues in “SportsCenter” history happened in 1995. ESPN’s Steve Levy talked about an injury grievance concerning the Patriots and former cornerback Maurice Hurst, who had been playing with a “bulging dick … disc” in his neck. Levy immediately began cracking up while trying to deliver voice-over during NFL highlights, barely getting out, “My apologies. I’m not laughing at the injured.” In the background, a beside-himself Keith Olbermann could be heard saying, “Thank goodness we don’t have video of that.” Years later, Levy told SBD, “To this day someone comes up to me and wants to talk about that. I would think that’s the ultimate blooper … [although] at the time, it wasn’t funny. I really thought I was going to get fired or suspended.”

Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
David Hill: No more talk of dead people!

As Fox Sports prepared to begin broadcasting MLB games in 1996, David Hill talked about how he wanted to change the tone of baseball broadcasts. He said, “I’m sick of dead guys. Whenever I turn on baseball, all I hear about is dead guys. If I hear a name, I’m gonna ask, ‘Is he dead?’ And if he is, you’re fired. You’re all fired.”

Artie Lange goes rogue on Joe Buck’s first show
Announcer Joe Buck debuted his new eponymous show on HBO in June 2009, which was set to revolve around the intersection of athletics and entertainment. Brash comedian Artie Lange was booked as a guest for the first episode, alongside actors Paul Rudd and Jason Sudeikis. Lange would essentially hijack the show, unleashing a profanity- and homophobic-laced diatribe about Buck, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and singer Jessica Simpson, and closing off by saying, “Sorry to ruin your … great show.”

Steve Lyons looks bad in looking for his wallet
Fox fired MLB analyst Steve Lyons in October 2006 after he made offensive comments about speaking Spanish while on air with guest analyst Lou Piniella. During an on-air interaction, there was a discussion about A’s shortstop Marco Scutaro, and Piniella said something in Spanish, to which Lyons replied, “Lou’s habla-ing some Español there, and I’m still looking for my wallet.” Lyons later said he was making a joke that had nothing to do with race.

Photo by: AP IMAGES
Bryant Gumbel calls out Gene Upshaw’s relationship with NFL

HBO’s Bryant Gumbel was panned by many for his verbal shots at NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw in 2006 during his closing segment of “Real Sports.” Bryant said that outgoing NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue should show his successor, Roger Goodell, “where he keeps Gene Upshaw’s leash. By making the docile head of the players union his personal pet, your predecessor has kept the peace without giving players the kind of guarantees other pros take for granted.”

Costas Gets Air Time With Jerry Sandusky
With Jerry Sandusky firmly embroiled in the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal by November 2011, NBC’s Bob Costas was set to interview his attorney for a segment on “Rock Center.” Then, 15 minutes before the interview, the attorney suggested Costas instead speak over the phone with Sandusky himself. Costas smoothly grilled Sandusky and was lauded afterward for his no-nonsense, rigorous questions.

Buzz Bissinger vs. Will Leitch
During an April 2008 panel segment on HBO’s “Costas Now,” author Buzz Bissinger went on a rant against the proliferation of blogs. His primary target was fellow panelist and then-Deadspin editor Will Leitch. Bissinger said to Leitch on stage, “I feel very strongly about this. I really think you’re full of shit because I think blogs are dedicated to cruelty, they’re dedicated to journalistic dishonesty, they’re dedicated to speed.” Bissinger said later he regretted his actions.

Rush Limbaugh dishes on Donovan McNabb
ESPN signed the conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh in 2003 to inject some life and star appeal, but in October, he resigned from “Sunday NFL Countdown” amid a firestorm of criticism after making race-tinged, controversial statements about then Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. Limbaugh insinuated that McNabb was overrated by the media because he is black. As Joe Browne, former NFL executive vice president of communications and public affairs, said at the time, “ESPN knew what they were getting when they hired Rush Limbaugh.”

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