Two weeks ago, after serving as ESPN's show pony during their annual ESPY Awards, Michelle Beadle hit many of the late-night parties around Los Angeles. She readily admits that. After all, she hadn't gone out at all after last year's event. And she even admits that, upon her return from L.A., she was summoned into the office by her boss, Vice President of Content Integration and Strategic Planning Marcia Keegan, and informed there were some unpleasant rumors making the rounds in Bristol about her party antics — including one involving inappropriate behavior with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But Beadle denies all of that. "I got angry," she said in a phone interview today, "because everything she asked me about was absolutely not true."
According to Beadle, John Walsh, ESPN's executive vice president, had asked Keegan to meet with Beadle to address the rumors. Keegan told Beadle that co-workers had accused her of being drunk and using drugs at the ESPY after-parties. Keegan also asked if she had said anything inappropriate to Rodgers at a nightclub where the two had been seen together.
"I saw and talked to Aaron the first night I was there," Beadle said. "I don't know the guy or anything, but we [she and her girlfriends] were hanging out with him. But Marcia told me that she heard I had apparently blurted out in front of him, 'I just wanna get fucked' very loudly."
Annoyed and incensed at this point, Beadle demanded that Keegan tell her which of her Bristol colleagues had spread the rumors. She wanted to get a lawyer, she told Keegan, and sue whomever it was for slander. Keegan did not tell her, and Beadle calmed down and resumed her Bristol duties, certain that this incident was behind her. Until, of course, we heard about the rumors and received confirmation that she had been approached by one of her bosses about it. Yes, in the aftermath of the ESPN Book interview, Beadle has been discouraged from speaking to us on the record, but she wanted to dispel what she claims are vicious lies before the stories of her ESPY partying spread any further.
Still, a source who was present at some of those ESPY after-parties maintains that Beadle had gotten obnoxiously hammered and that at one point she put the moves on Aaron Rodgers. Rebuffed, she went on to fuck his teammate Clay Matthews instead, the source said.
"That's insane," Beadle said. "I live a much more interesting life in other people's minds."
She said there was only one conversation with Matthews. They were sitting on a couch, and he was pulled away from the conversation by another individual, who proceeded to yell at the Thor-like linebacker for chatting her up. So, no, Beadle said, she did not fuck Matthews, either.
According to Beadle, she did most of her late night gallivanting with some long-time girlfriends who had accompanied her on this particular work trip. She said she was hanging out with them, laughing and bonding and doing all the girl's-night-out-y things that women do when they're healing from a recent breakup.
Said Beadle: "That was one of the first getaways after I had broken up with Matthew [Barnaby, an ESPN hockey analyst], so I was newly single and just hanging with my girls.
"But I've never been the type to be sloppy drunk in public. I'm 35! I know how to drink."
Of course, there's a reason the Rodgers rumor might have caught on among her co-workers in Bristol: the Packer's alleged fling with Beadle's nemesis, Erin Andrews.
"I'd heard that rumor about those two [Rodgers and Andrews], but I don't know if it's true," Beadle said. "I certainly didn't say whatever it is I supposedly said to Aaron Rodgers because of that. This is just ridiculous. It makes me so angry."
As we've reported before, the general perception from insiders is that Beadle is untouchable at ESPN, beloved by most of her co-workers and superiors (especially Norby Williamson), and that she doesn't get disciplined for behavior that would land other on-air talent on the Bristol shit list. Beadle acknowledged to me that she's had some informal discussions with other networks about future projects after ESPN. But she said none of these discussions could be considered formal overtures right now and that she has no immediate plans to leave the World Wide Leader for a higher-profile opportunity.
For now, Beadle said she's determined to root out the gossips, even though both Walsh and Keegan refused to give up any names.
"We'll find [them]," she said. "Some people like to talk a lot."