Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are traveling to New England to face off against the Patriots and his former head coach, Bill Belichick, on NBC’s Sunday Night Football at 8:15 p.m.
Of course, the debate since Brady left the Patriots following the 2019 season has been who was more responsible for the team’s six Super Bowl wins — Brady or Belichick. That debate has gone into overdrive since the Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl in February, earning Brady his seventh ring, more than any other player in NFL history (Hall of Famer Charles Haley earned five Super Bowl rings in the 1990s during his time with the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers).
NBC Sunday Night Football analyst and former Patriots defender Rodney Harrison — who played with Brady and for Belichick — didn’t mince his words when asked where he stands on the debate.
“I think it’s stupid, OK?” Harrison said during a conference call this week. “I think it’s disrespectful. Not only is it disrespectful to Tom and Bill, but it’s disrespectful to all those great players that came along that were part of those championship teams because, at the end of the day, it wasn’t Bill and Tom versus everybody else. It was an entire team.”
“Nobody ever questions who’s more responsible for the Indianapolis Colts’ success, Coach Dungy or Peyton Manning. And Peyton left, and he won another Super Bowl with a different team,” Harrison added. “You can give them props and call them the greatest of all time, and nobody would probably argue with that. But at the end of the day, it’s not, ‘Tom’s more responsible or Bill’s more responsible.’ I just think it’s dumb.”
“Well said. I agree,” said former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who is in his first year as an NBC analyst after having retired from the NFL in March after a 20-year career. Brees will be in Foxboro to watch Brady defeat his passing yardage record of 80,35 yards. Coming into the game, Brady is just 68 yards short.
“It’s amazing how not only does NBC get this game, but they just happen to get it on the weekend that he’s going to break the record,” Brees joked. “So appreciate that, everybody.”
The sports media world is focused on the match-up. NBC’s pregame show Football Night in America will broadcast live from Gillette Stadium, as will ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown in the morning. Lester Holt will anchor the NBC Nightly News from New England Friday night. You can also expect the Brady-Belichick hype machine to be in overdrive Sunday morning on both Fox NFL Sunday and The NFL Today on CBS.
“I can’t think of any game that’s been more anticipated than this one in the 36 years I’ve covered the NFL in primetime,” said longtime play-by-play announcer Al Michaels.
Former ESPN stars Katie Nolan and Michelle Beadle could end up with Dan LeBatard at Meadowlark Media
Kate Nolan announced on Wednesday she no longer works for ESPN, but she may not be out of a job for long.
John Skipper, the CEO of Meadowlark Media and Nolan’s former boss in Bristol, told Front Office Sports he’s interested in adding her to a growing talent roster that includes Dan LeBatard, Grant Wahl, and former Inquirer reporter Kate Fagan. The pairing would seem appropriate, considering Nolan was a regular on LeBatard’s now-defunct ESPN show, Highly Questionable.
Skipper said he also has interest in Michelle Beadle, another former ESPN star whose contract was reportedly bought out in 2019 after being removed from the network’s morning show, Get Up.
“Yes, I enjoyed working with them. Yes, I think they’re talented. Of course, Meadowlark would be interested,” Skipper told Front Office Sports’ Mike McCarthy. “At Meadowlark, we do want to recruit talented people. We’re prepared to recruit people — and give them editorial freedom — in what they say. We’re interested in people we think can range across a variety of genres. They both qualify for all that.”
Skipper and LeBatard launched Meadowlark in January, which is positioned as a content and production company focused on sports. They’ve already announced a $50 million sponsorship deal with Draft Kings and a partnership with the BBC to produce a new podcast for the series Sport’s Strangest Crimes, about former college football standout Anthony Curcio and his famed 2008 bank robbery.
NBC Sports Philadelphia isn’t going dark on YouTube TV yet. NBCUniversal and Google have reached a “short extension” on their YouTube TV carriage deal while they continue to negotiate, per an NBC spokesperson. NBC had threatened to remove all its networks — including NBC, Bravo, and NBC Sports Philadelphia — if a deal wasn’t struck with the tech giant.
Ahead of the NHL season, ESPN is launching a weekly hockey show called The Point, hosted by longtime SportsCenter anchor and Pittsburgh native John Buccigross. The show will premiere on Oct. 7 and air Thursdays from 3 to 4 p.m. on ESPN2 and ESPN+.
TNT aired its first NHL preseason game Thursday after signing a seven-year broadcast deal with the league. There were a few hiccups during the broadcast, but the reviews seemed mostly positive, the scorebug was clean, and the studio show (featuring former Flyers right winger Rick Tocchet) wasn’t afraid to have a little fun.
In between the yelling and theatrics of First Take, ESPN host Stephen A. Smith actually made a terrific point about the Ben Simmons fiasco Wednesday. It’s especially relevant following Joel Embiid’s comments Thursday about the Sixers building teams around “the needs” of Simmons.