MAXX Client and 2x All-Star Dontrelle Willis has joined the FOX Sports 1 MLB studio team. He will make his broadcasting debut on "FOX Sports Live" on Monday, April 20th at 11:00pm ET.
Returning to the CBS Sports Radio Network program schedule are two of the network’s “Eye On” programs. “Eye On Baseball,” begins this Saturday, April 11, with CBS Sports Radio’s Adam Gerstenhaber and baseball analyst CJ Nitkowski co-hosting. It will air every Saturday from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon ET through the World Series. The first show will feature former Colorado Rockies general manager and current MLB Network analyst, Dan O’Dowd.
Raúl Ibañez auditioned as a baseball analyst for FOX Sports on Jan. 22. He killed it. “After about five minutes, everyone involved looked at each other and said, We’ve got really got something here,” said FOX Sports executive producer John Entz. “He made an immediate impact on both the guys on camera and the producers behind the scenes.”
So much so that the network has hired Ibañez, who played 19 MLB seasons for five teams, as a studio analyst for its pregame and postgame coverage. Ibañez will also contribute to FOX Sports Live, America’s Pregame and MLB Whiparound. “Raul is a guy who has great credibility, is really smart and is well respected by those in and out of the game of baseball,” said Entz. “As an analyst, we think he has an incredibly high ceiling.”
ESPN Radio will debut an enhanced weekday evening lineup beginning Monday, March 30, with one of the three new shows hosted by MAXX client, Bomani Jones. Bomani's evocative new program The Right Time with Bomani Jones will kick off at 9 p.m. ET.
Jones has contributed to ESPN as a writer and commentator for close to a decade. He became a fulltime co-host of Highly Questionable, on ESPN weekdays at 4:30 p.m., in May 2013 and had previously appeared regularly on ESPN Radio’s The Dan Le Batard Show. The Right Time with Bomani Jones will showcase Jones’ provocative opinions, relevant guests and listener interaction while discussing topical issues. Jones’ show will be broadcast from Miami.
“The best radio shows are the most fun, and that’s what I want The Right Time to be,” said Jones. “The show will feature smart stuff, tackle the most important topics, and I can promise we’ll handle sports in a way no one else does on radio.”
The program will be available nationally on ESPN Radio, espnradio.com, the ESPN Radio app, SiriusXM, Apple iTunes, Slacker and TuneIn.
The daily sports discussion show Highly Questionable is changing networks and its airtime starting Monday, March 23. The half-hour program moves to ESPN and will air at 4:30 p.m., leading into the popular hour of Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption. Highly Questionable is hosted by longtime Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard, his father, Gonzalo “Papi” Le Batard, and sports commentator Bomani Jones. The crew brings an innovative and comedic approach to sports commentary and offers a critical – and sometimes controversial – perspective on the world of professional sports.
MAXX client and YES' Brooklyn Nets sideline reporter, Sarah Kustok will handle color commentary duties alongside play-by-play man Ian Eagle during the network's Saturday, March 14 Nets-Sixers telecast (pre-game at 7:00 pm ET; game telecast at 7:30 pm ET).
In addition to handling sideline reporter duties for YES the past three seasons, Kustok, one of the best three-point shooters in the history of DePaul University's women's basketball program, has provided analysis during FOX Sports 1's Big East women's college basketball telecasts the past two seasons. She also was a studio analyst earlier this week during FOX Sports 1's coverage of the Big 12 and Big East women's basketball tournaments.
Dan O'Dowd has moved from creator to commentator.
The former Rockies general manager has joined MLB Network as a studio analyst. He'll begin his job as part of MLB Network's "30 Clubs in 30 Days" spring training series beginning March 3.
O'Dowd worked as a guest analyst during the network's winter meetings coverage in December in San Diego.
In October, O'Dowd resigned from his longtime job as the Rockies' GM, a position he held for 15 seasons. He was replaced by Jeff Bridich, who worked under O'Dowd for 10 years.
Comcast SportsNet, the television home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox, has named pro basketball beat reporter Vincent Goodwill as its Bulls “Insider” effective immediately. In this position, Goodwill will lead Comcast SportsNet’s coverage of the Bulls across the network’s growing list of multiplatforms, highlighted by CSNChicago.com’s ‘BullsTalk’ franchise, and will also serve as an on-air Bulls contributor on Bulls Pregame Live, SportsNet Central and SportsTalk Live. Goodwill can be followed on Twitter @vgoodwill.
“Vincent comes to us with a wealth of knowledge and experience covering the NBA over the years and his passion for the game will most certainly be felt by our television viewers, web and mobile visitors, and social media audience immediately,” said T.K. Gore, Sr. Director of Digital Media for Comcast SportsNet Chicago. “Vincent’s hiring is another perfect example of our commitment in providing fans with the most in-depth, local coverage of their favorite teams and confirms Comcast SportsNet as the region’s leading source for comprehensive multiplatform coverage.”
Goodwill, a native of Detroit, MI, comes to Comcast SportsNet after spending four-plus seasons as the Detroit Pistons beat reporter for The Detroit News (2010-15). Prior to earning the primary Pistons beat reporter role for the publication, Goodwill handled a variety of back-up beat reporting responsibilities for The Detroit News, which included providing coverage of every Detroit pro team franchise and area colleges. Goodwill began his journalism career as a contributing NBA writer for SLAM Magazine.
Goodwill is the latest addition to a rapidly growing digital media department that operates CSNChicago.com, and a portfolio of successful mobile and social media platforms. These platforms feature exclusive written, video and interactive content from several multiplatform sportswriters, including Cubs “Insider” Patrick Mooney, White Sox “Insider” Dan Hayes, Blackhawks “Insider” Tracey Myers, Bears “Insider” John ‘Moon’ Mullin, along with a veteran staff of digital media/television reporters and producers.
MAXX Client Kristen Balboni officially joined FOX Sports as host of its daily social media series @TheBuzzer, while also contributing elsewhere at FOX Sports 1. The series recently scored its best month ever, collectively averaging more than 37 million video views in January, and has become FOX Sports’ most-consumed content on mobile devices.
MAXX client and ESPN NBA Insider, Tom Haberstroh, joined Keith Olbermann on ESPN last night to discuss where analytics stand in basketball.
The Lawrence Taylor 56th private birthday celebration Wednesday night at Catch’s Rooftop will include former teammates from the Super Bowl XXI and XX Giants and “other very relevant individuals,” according to longtime friend, agent and representative Mark Lepselter.
For Lepselter, MAXX Sports & Entertainment president, it was an idea he and LT friend and attorney Arthur Aidala hatched several months ago to recognize No. 56 turning 56 last Wednesday.
“I don’t think there’s any professional athlete in recent memory more synonymous with a jersey number than Lawrence Taylor with the number 56,” Lepselter told The Rumble. “Good, bad or indifferent, he’s led a remarkable life. He is the most compelling individual that I’ve ever been around. This was something I wanted to be a part of for him to be celebrated by those people closest to him. That was important to me.”
Lepselter first met Taylor 25 years ago, right before LT opened a restaurant that bore his initials in East Rutherford. Lepselter was the restaurant manager.
“He and I have just always shared a very unique relationship,” Lepselter said.
They lost touch from 1992-97, before Lepselter worked out the deal with Oliver Stone’s people for LT to appear in “Any Given Sunday.”
“I was able to get him the audition with Oliver down at the TriBeCa Film Center in October of ’98, and he moved to Miami and never left after he filmed the movie down there,” Lepselter said. “That was a pivotal moment for both of us.”
Their story has been one of turbulence, triumph and near-tragedy, and above all else, loyalty.
“My life and times with Lawrence Taylor have been some of the most rewarding aspects of my life over the last 25 years,” Lepselter said. “There’s been some tough times, man, but we always stuck together.
“It’s been a remarkable journey.”
Lepselter is expecting a few hundred people to honor LT at the perfect spot — not too far away from West 56th Street.
“Great venue, great vibe in the heart of the Meatpacking District,” Lepselter said.
He spawned a generation of kids and aspiring football players who wanted to wear No. 56 more than any other number, arguably more than No. 12 way back when for Joe Namath. You didn’t even have to be from New York. If you played Pop Warner football, or high school football, or college football, if you played defense, you wanted 56.
And Wednesday, No. 56 turned 56.
Lawrence Taylor says he is in a better place in life than he has been in a long, long time. A Hall of Fame place. Where he no longer needs to be the madman L.T., because being Lawrence Taylor is good enough.
“I would like to say my life is perfect, but it’s not, but I have a good life,” Lawrence Taylor told The Post. “I am actually enjoying being an elder statesman and doing what I do in life, you know?”
I asked him if it is hard for him to believe he is 56.
“It’s hard to believe that I GOT to 56, yes,” he said, “but I’m here.
“Don’t get me wrong — it hasn’t been an easy road. It’s been a rough road. It’s been a rocky road, it’s been a rough road … and every day I face things that really make you just hesitant about how life is, but one thing I know, I’ll get through it, and I can make it happen. Bad things will happen, but I have a lot of good things that happen in my life.
“I have a LOT in my life to be thankful for.”
All these years later, you still see 56 jerseys in the stands at MetLife Stadium, the stadium that replaced The House That L.T. Built, and you see more than 56 of them.
“Regardless of how they feel about you personally, they respect what you do,” Taylor said.
L.T. wore 98 at North Carolina, but chose 56 when he joined the Giants.
“I thought 56 was an obscure number,” Taylor said. “I wanted something different.”
Center Jim Clack had worn the number, but had retired. When Clack decided to unretire, he wanted his number back, but Giants general manager George Young allowed L.T. to keep 56 because he was certain he would take it to Canton.
L.T. is one of seven players to wear 56 who have Hall of Fame busts, along with Bill Hewitt, Dante Lavelli, Joe Schmidt, Ted Hendricks, Andre Tippett and Chris Doleman.
It took about 56 seconds on the practice field for defensive coordinator Bill Parcells and his boss, Ray Perkins, to recognize that a rare force of nature was now a Giant.
It only seemed like L.T. sacked Ron Jaworski 56 times on his way to 132.5 sacks, not including 9.5 sacks as a rookie before they became an official stat.
His former Giants teammates will tell you L.T. showed up for Sundays without sleep no fewer than 56 times … and raised hell on the field anyway.
It has been documented more than 56 times L.T. lived his life either on the edge or over the edge plenty more than 56 times. He was suspended several times for failing drug tests and in 2011 he pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct involving a 16-year-old.
A day in the life of Lawrence Taylor today no longer sees him playing 56 holes of golf down in Pembroke Pines, Fla.
“That would be a good day, but that was a lot of years ago,” Taylor said. “I don’t play 56 holes. It’s very seldom, unless I’m playing Michael Jordan, do I play 36 holes. I’m an 18-hole man.”
A family man. He and his wife, Lynette, fawn over adopted son Mali, 8. He was ordering dinner for his two sons at Benihana on Wednesday night when I called. On Tuesday, he had himself a blast with some familiar names — Cornelius Bennett, Bruce Smith, Keith Byars, Ray Allen and Penny Hardaway, among others.
“I played golf with about 30 guys,” Taylor said. “We meet every Tuesday, so they threw me a get-together, a party, and I was really surprised. And today, hey, we had to do it all over again.”
Longtime friend and agent Mark Lepselter is hosting a party for No. 56 next Wednesday.
“He is the most settled and at peace with being Lawrence Taylor than I’ve ever seen him, and I’ve known him for 25 years,” Lepselter said. “I’m just so proud of how far he’s come on so many fronts. He’s as loyal a guy as I’ve ever been around. I think more than anything, age has mellowed him, and made him a better guy to be around.”
It would be a nice touch for the NFL to ask him to conduct the coin toss someday … at Super Bowl LVI, of course.
“The No. 1 thing is I love the game,” Taylor said. “I love the game of football, I loved contact, I love what the game has done for me. As I get older, every day I respect and I love how the fans treated me, how the fans treat me. Because at some point in time, it’s all gonna be over. And it’s all about what type of impact did you have on the game? Listen, maybe I’m more mellowed out now than I used to be, but I’m more appreciative of the fans than I used to be.”
Giants fans everywhere will be happy to know their beloved 56 had himself a happy 56th.
ESPN is bringing some young, fresh faces to join its “SportsCenter” team.
Maxx client and comedian, Reese Waters, is joining the network’s team in Bristol, Connecticut, and intends to tap into the digital landscape to reach the millennial generation.
Reese is one of three new 'SportsCenter' correspondents who will be doing special reports for the franchise show — such as going on the road with a college football team or reporting from the 16th hole at this weekend’s Phoenix Open — and it will be easy to spot his segments amid the sea of veteran talent. "These stories are not going to appear on air and then fade off - they are going to get an extended life digitally and on social media."
Meet Reese Waters below:
Hometown: Washington, DC
How he got to ESPN: Waters first blended his stand-up comedy skills with a love of sports as co-host of "The Daily Line" on the Versus network, then was tapped by ESPNU to host late-night college sports wrap show "Unite." Five years later, his latest career path "was a no-brainer ... when 'SportsCenter' calls, you have to answer."
How he'll be different: Used to "having license to say what he wants" on stage, Waters, 34, will push the boundaries without upsetting too many fanatics. "Once of the most entertaining things to me is how invested the fans are. I've learned that there is a way to say everything, " he told TheWrap. In addition to his segments sounding brassier, "there's no sports expertise! I don not want you to think, but it is about entertainment."
Favorite "SportsCenter" anchor: Kenny Mayne is hilarious. If you think of him like a boxer, there are these guys that throw punches from all angles. With Kenny, I never know where he's going to come from."
Mike Pereira, former NFL vice president of officiating, and former Oakland Raiders CEO Amy Trask have each signed deals with Triumph Books to write books about their careers in professional football.
Mark Lepselter, president of Maxx Sports & Entertainment, who represents both Pereira and Trask in their broadcast careers, negotiated the book deals. Pereira is the on-air NFL rules analyst for Fox Sports, and Trask is an analyst with CBS Sports.
Lepselter declined to reveal the financial terms of the agreements with Triumph Books, a Chicago-based independent publishing company that specializes in sports books. Typically, publishing deals involve an upfront advance for the authors, as well as a royalty of 15 percent to 20 percent of the book’s sales.
Pereira is co-writing the book with Rick Jaffe, Fox Sports 1 senior vice president of news, and it is due out around the opening of the 2015 NFL season.
Trask is co-writing the book with longtime football writer Michael Freeman, who writes about the NFL for Bleacher Report, and that book is due out around the beginning of the 2016 season.
“I have always enjoyed writing, and Mike Freeman makes writing even more fun than usual,” Trask said. “I worry only that I will let him down.”
Trask previously said she was planning to write about her memories of working with the Raiders, but also about what she has learned as a woman working in the sports industry. “I am asked so often, what advice I would give young women who seek careers in business — a particularly male-dominated business at that,” she said. “I am sharing my perhaps somewhat controversial thoughts on that topic, woven in and around anecdotes and experiences from my almost three decades with the Raiders and the National Football League.”
Since the domestic violence scandals involving NFL players have exploded in recent months, Trask has been a frequent guest on a number of news and sports programs.
Pereira, meanwhile, was one of the first NFL officials to get a broadcast deal. He was busy last week doing television interviews on the investigation into whether the New England Patriots deflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game. “He is going to be on CNN with Anderson Cooper tonight,” Lepselter said last week. “I believe that Mike is arguably as important a fixture in NFL broadcasting as anyone these days. He is clearly the foremost expert on anything related to the rules of the league.”
The Pereira book will be a bit of a memoir, a review of his first career with the NFL, including different anecdotal stories about controversial games and plays, as well as a look at his second career as a broadcaster.
Starting Friday, MAXX client Gregg Giannotti will become CBS Sports Radio's national morning co-host alongside Brian Jones, the latest stop on a rapid rise during which he went from producing for Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts at WFAN to five years as a sports talk host in Pittsburgh.
On one hand, leaving Pittsburgh was more difficult than Giannotti ever anticipated it would be.
"I went into it thinking this was going to be like going to college again -- learn, come back in a couple of years, like an extended business trip," he said. "I ended up developing all these great relationships."
Still, the new gig means "coming back home," and that proved irresistible for a guy who grew up in Brookhaven Hamlet, attended Hofstra and now plans to live in Great Neck and commute into Manhattan -- where he will work out of the same studio Benigno and Roberts used when he was their producer.
There is one problem with the coming-home thing: Giannotti must accept the odd reality of working in New York but not being heard by New Yorkers -- other than those who listen online.
CBS Radio, which owns WFAN, long has been expected to move its national programming into either the FAN's AM or FM signal, but so far that has not happened.
"Even though we're not on in New York, it's just being back," Giannotti said. "It's just being back in that building, being around family and friends, people I grew up in the business with.
"It's really a prideful thing the powers that be at CBS looked around and said we want to have a real entertaining morning show," he said. "I'm going to do everything I can to make people take notice."
Giannotti and Jones will succeed MAXX clients Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney, who are moving to the 9 a.m.-to-noon shift, and Dana Jacobson, who returned her focus to television.
MAXX Client Amy Trask was named as one of the "Most Improved" sports broadcasters (honorable mention) by Sports Illustrated in their annual "Sports Illustrated Media Awards: the best and worst of 2014" column.
Amy spent the past year working for CBS Sports on their CBSSN NFL Sunday pregame show, "That Other Pregame Show" and she also worked as a regular panelist on the network's all-female sports talk show, "We Need to Talk."
Additionally, Amy was recognized by Sports Illustrated in their list of sports TV personalities that "they want more of." SI mentioned that Amy is an exec-turned-analyst who's one of the brightest NFL minds on TV.
MAXX Client Bomani Jones was recognized by Sports Illustrated in their annual "Sports Illustrated Media Awards: The best and worst of 2014", which was published by SI's Senior Editor, Richard Deitsch on December 19th, 2014.
Bomani was named one of the "Studs of the Year," thanks to his reporting on this year's Donald Sterling scandal.
Sports Illustrated writes, "ESPN2 Highly Questionable host Bomani Jones first alerted ESPN.com readers to Donald Sterling's housing discrimination nonsense eight years ago, and correctly observed then that too many constituencies (the NBA, the news media) had looked the other way on Sterling for years. The rest of the media finally caught up in 2014."
Thanks to SI for taking note of Bomani's successful efforts this year!
MAXX Client Amy Trask was recognized in Sports Illustrated's 2014 'Year in Sports Media' column for her work as a sports TV personality.
Sports Illustrated included Amy in their list of sports TV personalities that "they want more of." The article also mentioned that Amy is an exec-turned-analyst who's one of the brightest NFL minds on TV.
Maxx Sports & Entertainment has signed New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson for broadcast work.
Agency President Mark Lepselter will represent Watson for his broadcast endeavors.
Watson recently garnered national attention for something he did off the field: a Facebook post on his thoughts on the Ferguson grand jury decision and the resulting protests. Watson’s post was hailed in the media as “thoughtful” and “moving,” and was shared more than 473,000 times and liked more than 859,000 times.
For the last few years, athletes have been signing with broadcast agents while they are still playing. Lepselter quietly signed Watson over the summer after being introduced to him by his client, former NFLer-turned-broadcaster Rodney Harrison.
The Facebook post highlights Watson’s ability to connect with an audience, but even before that, he had a “big future” in broadcasting, Lepselter said. Among the things that make Watson attractive, Lepselter said, is he played at an SEC school, Georgia; is a respected NFL veteran; has a Super Bowl ring; and is an NFLPA executive committee member.
“Did this thing go viral and did a lot of people pay attention to it?” Lepselter asked, rhetorically. “Sure. But I can tell you that network talent executives have been aware of Benjamin for some time.”
CBS Sports Radio today announced a new lineup for the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market sports radio network heard on more than 330 stations nationwide, starting on Friday, Jan. 2, 2015.
Leading off the day will be Gregg Giannotti and Brian Jones broadcasting live from CBS Sports Radio’s studio in New York City from 6:00-9:00AM. Giannotti joins from CBS RADIO’s Sportsradio 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, where he hosts the perennially No. 1-rated sports talk show in the market.
Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney will now be heard from 9:00AM-12:00Noon.
Eric Spitz, Director of Programming at CBS Sports Radio said, “Gregg and Brian, two naturally funny guys, will be an incredibly entertaining team in mornings, and we’re thrilled to build on the great rapport that Tiki and Brandon have developed over the past couple of years.”