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ESPN Finally Disavows Its Tebow Coverage: "We Didn't Handle That Very Well"

The New York Jets have three games left to play and despite an unexpected itchy eruption of theoretically possible playoff chances—one game behind whahuh?—they're not a draw going down the stretch. The Chargers-Jets Sunday game on Dec. 23 gets the distinction of being the only game this year that NBC flexed out of its Sunday-night slot, in favor of Seahawks-49ers).

And it's almost certain that, barring an injury to Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow will end the season where he started it, on the sideline, as the Jets' backup quarterback. The nothingburger controversy that ESPN's First Take and SportsCenter kept sizzling all season has gone up in a whiff of greasy smoke.


So now that it looks perfectly safe to call a ceasefire on Tebow coverage, ESPN's executives will do exactly that. In today's SBJ, ESPN president John Skipper said that the Tebow bombardment wasn't a good idea after all:

I said, 'Guys, we didn't handle this very well.' Going to training camp wasn't a problem. We just stayed on it relentlessly and too long.

Skipper described the bridge-burning quote from Doug Gottlieb about how "You can't talk enough Tebow" as a sort of personal turning point. Skipper said the ratings bump that Tebow had given the network maybe wasn't doing good things for the ESPN brand name, after all:

We all know that if you focus on the Tebow story, for the next 10 minutes you're going to do better. But the question is trying to take a long-term perspective and saying, 'Guys, let's not get over excited about one story and hyping it.'


This would have been far more bold had it been said, like, in early October—when Gottlieb made the comments. And Skipper isn't the only one to come down on it at this late stage in the game. ESPN's vice president John Walsh didn't just talk about romantic rivalries at the University of Maryland last week:


So ESPN isn't totally unwilling to address its journalistic failures. It just holds out till it's been totally defeated.


[Sports Business Daily]

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