Sunday, May 5, 2013

Something weird is going on at ESPN

ESPN, which could credibly be called ESPNFL, used to run a "Football Today" podcast--not nearly often enough to satisfy its loyal listeners (I was one of them), but it was a regular part of the network's web presence even during the offseason.

A few months ago, host Ross Tucker's contract expired, and he left the network and the show. A similar thing happened last year, with Tucker in limbo as negotiations went on, but he then returned. Not so this time, however; in fact, ex-OL Tucker, a sharp guy who takes the sport seriously but keeps it in perspective, while never taking HIMSELF too seriously,  has started the aptly named "Ross Tucker Football Podcast," with a similar tone, similar features, even some of the same sponsors. Furthermore, he's doing his show 3 times a week, in stark contrast to ESPN's former once-a-week offseason schedule.

Of course, Tucker's show (which has already proved to be an excellent source of insight for the serious football fan) stands in even starker contrast to "Football Today's" current ZERO times a week schedule. After Tucker's departure, longtime show guest and co-host Matt Williamson, a former scout, took over hosting duties for several episodes until suddenly it was announced he was leaving and the show was on hiatus. I'm not sure what happened here, but who knows what ESPN is thinking? It revamped its baseball podcast this year, too, handing it over to Buster Olney, and perhaps it wanted on-air talent to be on the podcast that covered its signature sport. That makes sense. Not having any kind of NFL podcast during the draft season makes zero sense.

Does anybody know what's going on here? Why would a sports media empire that loves to push all things NFL all the time go silent with one of its flagship podcasts? Surely it has some kind of  plan, but then again, I can't imagine any kind of solid plan would allow the show to go dark for several weeks during such a high-profile stretch for the league.

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