ESPN Daily kicks off your morning with the best sports story you’ll hear all day. Monday through Friday, host Pablo Torre brings you an inside look at the most interesting stories at ESPN, as told by the top reporters and insiders on the planet.
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NFL players turned analysts Alex Smith, Louis Riddick, and Domonique Foxworth join Pablo to break down the first games of the season. First, WFT former QB Alex Smith shares what it’s like weighing in on games instead of playing them, and highliights from early in the day. Then, Bears vs. Rams and the afternoon games with Domonique Foxworth. Plus, Monday Night Football’s Louis Riddick tells us what to watch for from Vegas as the Raiders take on the Ravens.
Tomorrow, Robert Saleh begins his tenure in possibly the most challenging job in football…head coach of the New York Jets. The former 49ers Defensive Coordinator has already drawn praise from players and analysts alike, who think he may just be the guy who can turn around the long struggling franchise. Saleh’s path to the Jets sideline has been as unusual as it is groundbreaking. Jets reporter Rich Cimini brings us the story of how, September 11th, 2001 changed Saleh’s life forever, and set him on a course to become the first Muslim head coach in NFL history.
Ben Simmons wants out of Philadelphia, and seems like the 76ers have had enough of him as well. The relationship between the former first overall pick and Philly has bent to a likely breaking point since the team exited last season’s NBA playoffs. Simmons’ disappointing performance drew sharp criticism from star teammate Joel Embiid and head coach Doc Rivers. Brian Windhorst explains what happens now that Simmons and the Sixers have gone sour, possible landing spots for him, and what the saga shows about power in the NBA.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones displayed rare humility when he compared his team’s opening night matchup against the defending Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers as “David vs. Goliath.” And while after a quarter century of mediocrity, the Cowboys may indeed be David on the field, off the field, they still remain the NFL’s Goliath. They are worth almost $7 billion according to Sportico, which puts them atop the list of most valuable franchises in sports despite not winning a Super Bowl since 1996. Tim Cowlishaw has covered the Cowboys since 1989, so he explains why they continue to be America’s Team…and if a return to glory is at hand. Then, Leylah Fernandez makes history at the US Open.
The NFL is back after surviving a gauntlet of a 2020 season. As Tom Brady aims to defend his title in Tampa, Bill Belichick seems to have found his heir apparent in QB Mac Jones, at the expense of Cam Newton. Several more rookie quarterbacks prepare to take the field in Week 1, while others wait. And with the Delta variant running rampant, teams are doing all they can to control the chaos. Mina Kimes is about to head into ESPN’s NFL war room, so before she goes we get her league season preview.
American politicians cannot stop talking about young transgender athletes. Eight states now have laws or policies on the books restricting transgender athletes’ access to youth sports, with seven states enacting them in 2021 alone. And nearly three dozen states have introduced similar bills. As a new school year begins and youth sports regain a foothold after pandemic precautions, these proposals have transgender kids stuck in the middle of the ongoing and often ugly battle over science and assumption, sex and gender identity, politics and policy. Katie Barnes covers transgender issues for ESPN and joins the show to explain the contours of the debate.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Susan Francia’s mother, Dr. Kate Karikó, has seen her lifelong work come to fruition in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Karikó’s dedication to her research amidst adversity inspired her daughter, who became an elite rower and Olympian. In a re-air of one our favorite episodes, ESPN’s Julie Foudy takes us through the story of Dr. Karikó’s perseverance, her mRNA breakthroughs behind the vaccine, and the mother-daughter relationship at the center of the E:60 feature “What We’re Made Of.”
Fernando Tatis Jr.’s massive 14-year, 340 million dollar deal with the Padres shattered MLB records. But it’s actually not the most important signing of the Padres this offseason. That belongs to Matt LaChappa, who signed with the team again in February, just as he has every year for more than a quarter-century. It’s a baseball story unlike any other: LaChappa is the longest tenured player in Padres history, despite never playing in a major league game. In 1996, LaChappa was a pitcher with San Diego’s minor league affiliate, when he suffered a heart attack while warming up in the bullpen. LaChappa survived, was left permanently disabled and in need of round-the-clock and costly medical care. Ever since, every offseason, the Padres have honored their commitment to Matt and his family by signing him a basic minor league contract, allowing Matt to remain on the team’s health insurance. In a sport where money and loyalty between players and clubs are constantly put to the test, Chris Connelly joins the show to tell a very different kind of baseball story, in a re-spin of one of our favorite episodes.
10 years ago, the Vancouver Canucks lost Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals to the Boston Bruins, in Vancouver. Canucks fans didn’t exactly hide their frustrations, as a riot engulfed the city. Now, a decade later, arguably the most enduring image of that night was a photo of a couple, kissing on the ground, surrounded by police in riot gear. In a re-spin of one of our favorite episodes, Greg Wyshynski caught up with the couple, and the photographer, and joins the show to share how that iconic image endures to this day.
It’s a heist story straight out of Hollywood, about a thief who would make Danny Ocean proud. Who is this criminal mastermind, who stole the New York Giants’ Super Bowl rings? Meet Sean Murphy: a die-hard Patriots fan, owner of a moving company, and a self-described master thief. He, like many Pats fans, watched in agony as the New York Giants pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history in 2008. A few months later, Murphy was researching local jewelers for a potential target when he came across E.A. Dion, a family-owned business…who also happened to be making the Giants’ Super Bowl rings. From there, a super-sized heist was put into motion. ESPN correspondent Sam Borden joins us in a re-spin of one of our favorite episodes, to take a look back at how Murphy pulled off the steal…and how he got caught.
When the winningest team in high school football hired the most controversial coach in high school football, heads turned all over the state of Georgia. What ensued was a 15-month saga of small-town, big time football that ended up dividing an entire town. In a re-air of one of our favorite episodes, Mark Schlabach brings us a story of funny money, a secret recording, and the unraveling of a powerhouse high school football program in Valdosta, Georgia.
Twenty years ago, when Earnhardt died in an accident on the final lap of Daytona in 2001, the tragedy prompted a change in NASCAR that many thought was long overdue. The sport took up safety standards and equipment designed to prevent the type of injury that killed Earnhardt. There may not be a bigger example of how far the sport has come than 2020’s Daytona 500, when Ryan Newman’s car flipped and landed upside down in a fiery collision during the final lap. Many first believed that Newman had died, but he walked out of the hospital two days later, largely due to the additional safety measures put in place in the wake of Earnhardt’s death. ESPN’s Ryan McGee shares how Earnhardt’s death changed NASCAR forever, also told in the ESPN film “Intimidator.”
As the college football season starts, the PAC-12, ACC, and Big Ten announced a new alliance. The purpose of the teamup is unclear…but no doubt is influenced by power and money, and the looming specter of the Southeastern Conference in the college football sphere. ESPN’s Paul Finebaum walks us through the implications of the changes off the field, and who might dominate on the field. Then, former NBA champion J.R. Smith is now a member of the North Carolina A&T State golf team, so current student East L. Dockery shares reporting on Smith’s next act.
In the world of trading cards, one company’s loomed large: Topps. But this week a company known for sports apparel, Fanatics, outbid Topps for the right to make cards with Major League Baseball. It also made deals with the NBA and NFL, and this major shakeup in sports memorabilia is worth billions of dollars. Dan Hajducky covers collectibles for ESPN. He shares his reporting on the Fanatics coup, plus the Honus Wagner card that sold for $6.6 million.
When the Los Angeles Rams traded for Matthew Stafford this offseason, they delivered one of the NFL’s biggest arms to one of its biggest brains: head coach Sean McVay. Over a dozen years in Detroit, Stafford put up big individual numbers, but the Lions’ lackluster talent meant that his ability was often squandered on teams that had no real chance at contending for a Super Bowl. That is no longer the case, as Stafford, McVay, and the rest of the Rams franchise know that nothing less than the Lombardi Trophy will be considered a success: it’s Super Bowl or bust in LA. Today, Seth Wickersham takes us behind the scenes of how the Stafford trade went down, what it all says about quarterbacks in the modern era, and how Cabo, apparently, is the nexus of power in the NFL. Then, Pablo shares his ode to the creepiest college mascot in America.
On November 7th, 2006, Bryan Pata, a defensive lineman for the University of Miami Hurricanes, was shot and killed when he returned home after football practice. He was just 22 years old. For nearly 15 years, no one was arrested in connection with Pata’s killing. That changed last week, with the stunning arrest of Pata’s former Miami teammate, Rashaun Jones. Today, we revisit our conversation from November with investigative reporter Paula Lavigne, who was part of ESPN’s multi-year probe into Pata’s killing that pointed out missteps in the long stalled police inquiry. Then, we discuss what led to the stunning arrest last week…and where the case might go from here.
Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson is the subject of several investigations and 22 civil lawsuits. Allegations from many women range from inappropriate conduct to sexual assault. The FBI is also looking into the case, and the NFL’s own investigation on Watson has come under scrutiny. ESPN’s Sarah Barshop brings us the latest on the plaintiffs and the defense, plus how Watson’s presence is shaping the Texans’ preseason. Then, Pablo shares how runner Elaine Thompson-Herah almost became the fastest woman in the world…and beat Sha’Carri Richardson.
There are few, if any, boxers in history with the resume of Manny Pacquiao. Inside the ring, he has won twelve major titles across EIGHT different weight classes. Outside the ring, he has been elected first, to the House of Representatives, and later, to the Senate back home in the Philippines. And now, Pacquiao appears to be gearing up to run for president of the Philippines. It’s a move that would put him in direct conflict with the current president Rodrigo Duterte, a leader whose autocratic tendencies suggest he is not afraid to fight dirty…and have left some in Pacquiao’s camp concerned for Manny’s safety, as well as their own. With Pacquiao taking the ring tomorrow night, perhaps the final time in his storied career, Tim Keown joins the show to discuss how Pacquaio’s latest fight, the fight for the highest office in the Philippines, will be his most challenging yet.
The Little League World Series returns to action in Williamsport, PA today. While it won’t be the truly global event it usually is, kids will still play their hearts out in the games. ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian will be there, and he tells guest host Emily Kaplan what makes this event so magical, and what to watch for as the games begin. Then, a look at the female athletes affected by the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.
It’s rare when a team that’s coming off a 1-15 season is considered intriguing, but here we are with the Jacksonville Jaguars. They retooled their franchise at the hands of legendary college head coach Urban Meyer, and there may or may not be a battle for the starting quarterback spot between number one overall pick Trevor Lawrence and Gardner Minshew (Hint: there’s not.) Then, there’s the Tim Tebow of it all, who signed as a tight end in the offseason, but was cut after the first preseason game. ESPN’s Jeff Darlington brings his view on how the Jags performed last week, and shares what fans should expect from them this season with guest host Emily Kaplan. Then, the U.S. women’s national hockey team reached a one-year deal with USA Hockey, but the fight for equal treatment in women’s sports is still ongoing.
The NFL is back! Well, the preseason if that’s your thing. And it is indeed Louis Riddick’s thing! The ESPN analyst, former NFL player and pro scout tells us all about the preseason debut of Justin Fields with the Chicago Bears. Fields was the fourth quarterback selected in 2021, but looked more than NFL ready as he completed 14/20 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for another touchdown and 33 yards. He even said the game felt “slow.” So just how ready is Justin Fields to start as QB of the Chicago Bears? Then, The Honus Wagner reclaims its throne as the king of all sports cards.
In Los Angeles this week, Trevor Bauer and a woman who has accused him of assault are expected to testify in court. The 27-year-old woman, whose name ESPN is not revealing, says Bauer assaulted her over the course of two sexual encounters in April and May. A judge will decide whether to make permanent the temporary restraining order the woman was granted against Bauer in June. Bauer’s future in MLB is unclear, as the pitcher remains on administrative leave from the Dodgers. ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez has been following the case, and shares his reporting, done in partnership with ESPN’s Tisha Thompson.
August is ESPN’s Matthew Berry’s favorite time of year: fantasy draft season. After participating in hundreds of thousands of drafts over his long fantasy career, Berry has everyone from Jay-Z to the Avengers cast asking him who they should draft. To better your chances this upcoming fantasy football season, Berry shares his “7 Habits of Highly Effective Drafters,” so you too can dominate your peers. Then, following Major League Baseball’s “Field of Dreams” game last night, ESPN Daily’s own Ryan Nantell shares a story of his time on the storied diamond from the 1989 film…that turned into something closer to a nightmare.
It’s not often you hear about a 7-time Super Bowl champion re-inventing himself, but that’s exactly what Tom Brady is doing…at 44 years old. We’ve seen Brady show more personality over the past year in Tampa Bay than he ever did in 20 seasons in New England. From his tipsy Super Bowl boat parade back in February, to joking about his age with President Biden, to his sudden embrace of memes on social media…Brady is finally showing a side of himself that is funnier, more candid…and maybe even, human. Brady’s personal development also coincides with the evolution of the Buccaneers’ already stout defense, which he may need now more than ever following his knee surgery in the offseason. ESPN reporter Jenna Laine joins us to talk all things Tom Brady, and if we should expect to see him play in Saturday’s preseason opener. Then, the soon-to-be-new governor of New York may have a personal interest in keeping the Bills in her hometown of Buffalo.
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