It appears Dave Portnoy has buried the hatchet with Philadelphia, at least for the moment.
The outspoken Barstool Sports founder came to town Monday to review longtime favorite Tacconelli’s Pizza in Port Richmond. Portnoy — a lifelong Boston sports fan — has previously ripped Philadelphia, calling it a “loser city” and labeling Eagles fans “dummies.” Most recently, he mocked Alshon Jeffery’s game-ending drop in the playoffs last season against the New Orleans Saints while sporting an Eagles cap.
But this time, Portnoy was joined by Phillies slugger Bryce Harper and new Flyers acquisition Kevin Hayes (both sporting “Team Portnoy” shirts). While wearing a “Philly is Portnoy Country" shirt, he declared his newfound admiration for the city of brotherly love.
“I got a rivalry with Philadelphia. It goes back a little bit,” Portnoy said. But with the addition of both Harper and Hayes, Portnoy now says he “loves this place” and that Philadelphia “has turned into a great place for everyone.”
During the review, Portnoy touched on what our food critic Craig LaBan referred to as Tacconelli’s “squabbling family factions" from a lawsuit between family members over the rights to the Tacconelli name. But the funniest moment came when Portnoy mocked Hayes for getting “pity autographs” while everyone lined up for Harper.
“Harper had like a line around the corner, he’s just sitting here on the chair. They’re like, ‘Go ask him so he doesn’t feel bad,’ " Portnoy said, leading Hayes to drop some mild profanity in front of a young fan.
“That’s two. My first two autographs,” Hayes proudly declared.
For the record, Portnoy gave Tacconelli’s an 8.1 out of 10. Harper, who described the sauce as “a little sweet,” rated the pizza a 7.8, while Hayes ranked it a 7.5.
Both have reviewed New York City pizza joints with Portnoy — Hayes at Prince Street Pizza in 2016, and Harper at Nick’s Pizza in 2017.
Heading into the NFL season, ESPN has quietly overhauled its NFL studio coverage. In February, Monday Night Countdown host Charles Woodson announced he was out at the sports network, while studio analyst Darren Woodson left in May to focus on his blossoming real estate business.
On Tuesday, ESPN announced more changes, which include elevating longtime analyst and former Eagles scout Louis Riddick to the main Monday Night Countdown set. Riddick will also get his first crack at calling an NFL game as part of ESPN’s Monday Night Football doubleheader on Sept. 9. He’ll work the Week One match-up between the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders alongside Steve Levy and Brian Griese. Riddick will also be part of the booth for Friday night college football games.
Former New England Patriots Pro Bowler Tedy Bruschi, who is recovering from a stroke, will be the lone addition to Sunday NFL Countdown, where the veteran defender will join host Sam Ponder and analysts Matt Hasselbeck, Randy Moss, Rex Ryan, and Riddick.
ESPN will also be adding a new 4 p.m. edition of SportsCenter on Mondays during football season, hosted by Elle Duncan and Michael Eaves.
• After losing the lead to the Dodgers in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s game, the Phillies came back to win in the bottom of the ninth. Here’s the call of Harper’s game-winning hit by play-by-play announcer Tom McCarthy on NBC Sports Philadelphia:
• Sports broadcasting legend Bob Costas is still calling games for the MLB Network, and happened to be in the booth to call Harper’s game-winning hit last night. Here’s what Costas said after the commotion died down: “Talk about the old Jim McKay line, ‘They were looking at the agony of defeat, and just like that they experience the thrill of victory.’ "
• Randy Moss, a former Hall of Fame receiver, took some time away from ESPN to practice alongside Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor down in Tampa, Fla.