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ax-throwing trip may have saved Rex Ryan

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ESPN ax-throwing trip may have saved Rex Ryan, ‘Sunday NFL Countdown’ crew

By Andrew Marchand

January 29, 2020 | 6:07pm

MIAMI — Entering this season, there was an industry buzz that ESPN might blow up its “Sunday NFL Countdown” show at the end of the year.

Host Sam Ponder, as well as analysts Matt Hasselbeck and Rex Ryan all entered the season on expiring contracts.

However, over the summer, the executives in charge of the show had Ponder, Hasselbeck, Ryan, Tedy Bruschi and Randy Moss travel to Charlotte for a chemistry building trip that featured ax throwing. The executives think this has been a difference maker.

Now … wait for it … it appears no one is receiving the ax.

Ryan is closing in on a new contract, ESPN vice president of production Seth Markman told The Post. Meanwhile, ESPN wants to keep Ponder and Hasselbeck in their roles.

After replacing Charles Woodson with Bruschi for this season, ESPN hopes to agree to new deals with Ponder and Hasselbeck.

While Markman wouldn’t address it, Hasselbeck likely is going to have to accept a paycut. When Hasselbeck joined ESPN, the network was bidding against an NFL team, which drove Hasselbeck’s price up. His exact salary is unknown, but it is at least $2-plus million per year.

As for Ponder, Markman feels as if she has gone to another level this season. She initially struggled in replacing Chris Berman, which was also around the time Tom Jackson, Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Trent Dilfer and Keyshawn Johnson all left the show.

“We’ve made too many changes,” Markman said. “Last year, I think we made a really positive change with Tedy.”

Senior Coordniating Producer for ESPN's NFL studio shows Seth Markman, Sunday NFL Countdown Host Sam Ponder and analyst Rex Ryan. Super Bowl 2020 Senior Coordniating Producer for ESPN’s NFL studio shows Seth Markman, Sunday NFL Countdown Host Sam Ponder and analyst Rex Ryan.Getty Images

Besides Bruschi, Markman felt the show improved because of the team-building experience in which Ryan, Hasselbeck, Moss, Bruschi and top producers went ax throwing in Charlotte. The next day, the on-air folks added zip-lining and white water rafting.

During the changes, Markman said he asked the new folks to act like they knew each other well.

“I can take the blame for it, but, for years, I would be like, ‘We need you guys to have good chemistry,’” Markman said. “That is such a weird thing to say to people.”

But ESPN did not provide the space to create it, like it did in Charlotte with the axes.

“I can literally point back to that and say that it is one of the best things we’ve done,” Markman said.

Ratings are up eight percent to 1.3 million per show so after splitting some wood, Markman wants to keep everything together. Ryan is already in.


On the way up: As a 10-year-old growing up in Shelton, CT, Dan Orlovsky wrote in a notebook that he wanted to work for ESPN.

Now, he is there — and on the rise. In his two years at ESPN, he has gone from a 12-year backup who ran out of the back of the endzone to a guy that you could see joining the Dick Vitales, Kirk Herbstreits and Jay Bilases of the Bristol world. They all had good playing career, but became stars on TV.

“The goal is a moving target,” Orlovsky said. “I want to be important here in what is important to them. I love live games so I don’t think I ever want to leave the booth. Love it. I think the ultimate goal is being able to do Monday Night Football or preeminent NFL game every week or a preeminent college football game every week, being in the booth and being in the moment. And then being well-respected when you say things.”

Orlovsky is well on his way.


Fox plan: When you watch the Super Bowl, Fox Sports’ executive producer Brad Zager’s fingerprints will be all over it.

Zager first rose to prominence by becoming Vin Scully’s Dodger producer at just 25. After nearly a decade there, he went to Japan and built a new sports network for Fox Sports. Now, at just 41, he is going to oversee his first Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl for a network is a culmination of a year’s worth of preparation. Fox will have new graphics and a fly cam that will sail from inside to outside the stadium.

“It will have a very cinematic feel, hopefully,” Zager said.

What is the overall goal for Sunday’s broadcast?

“Our goal is when people turn on the Super Bowl, they know it is not a regular season game,” Zager said. “The NFL is already probably the best produced sports television on a consistent level. It is only network level. When you watch the Super Bowl, you have to figure out ways to elevate even more and make sure that people know it is not just any other game.”

https://www.google.com/amp/s/nypost.com/2020/01/29/espn-ax-throwing-trip-may-have-saved-rex-ryan-sunday-nfl-countdown-crew/amp/

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When they were throwing the axes, did they ask Rex to play defense?

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12 minutes ago, Gen X Jet said:

ESPN must be run by total incompetents from top to bottom.  

Yep.  Disney.

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I'm glad it was hassleback throwing the axes and not Hackenburg.  they would need to replace a few broadcasters.

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45 minutes ago, Gen X Jet said:

ESPN must be run by total incompetents from top to bottom.  

Should be renamed SJESPN...SJ for social justice.  
 

Politics and sports don’t mix. They’ve already learned that with just about ALL their Profits flushed because lots of fans aren’t interested in hearing about politics mixed with sports.  They just want sports.
 

I think last year they fired about half their staffers because of the decline in Profits.

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1 hour ago, BROOKLYN JET said:

Besides Bruschi, Markman felt the show improved because of the team-building experience in which Ryan, Hasselbeck, Moss, Bruschi and top producers went ax throwing in Charlotte. The next day, the on-air folks added zip-lining and white water rafting.

You'd think this was like a scene from a failed sitcom or something but it's real

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Disney is paying an awful lot of people to be part of programming nobody is watching.  

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9 minutes ago, T0mShane said:

You'd think this was like a scene from a failed sitcom or something but it's real

Kramer goes bananas

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2 minutes ago, Bugg said:

Disney is paying an awful lot of people to be part of programming nobody is watching.  

The hiring decisions ESPN makes really causes you to wonder how they stay profitable. 

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8 minutes ago, T0mShane said:

The hiring decisions ESPN makes really causes you to wonder how they stay profitable. 

They’re about to throw an insane amount of money at Romo. Like an ungodly number.

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23 minutes ago, T0mShane said:

You'd think this was like a scene from a failed sitcom or something but it's real

rex accidentally hits hassleback with an axe. nothing too serious.  the judge makes him his butler

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37 minutes ago, T0mShane said:

The hiring decisions ESPN makes really causes you to wonder how they stay profitable. 

Stick to writing or whatever English majors do (would you like fries with that) and let the finance boys do their thing 

 

:-)

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1 hour ago, kdels62 said:

They’re about to throw an insane amount of money at Romo. Like an ungodly number.

That at least makes sense because Romo is actually really good. You learn things from him, he knows strategy in ways few announcers do. But there are so many guys these networks hire like Ryan who don't add anything. And with the volume of things you can find on the internet, at a loss who's watching Foot Fetish Ryan or Michael Irvin break down TD celebrations.  

Every so often I take a look at various media company stocks. Disney's stock is not looking all that good. It's not Blockbuster epic bad, but it's trending down for a while. And that's even off the fanfare of Disney+'s streaming. The had"The Mandolorian" and.....help me out here....

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34 minutes ago, New York Mick said:

Rex needs to be on a network that doesn’t censor him. 

Some of his prior appearances on video certainly appealed to a certain risque niche market not typically featured on American sports TV programming. 

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a guy that you could see joining the Dick Vitales, Kirk Herbstreits and Jay Bilases of the Bristol world. 

Throw Bill Walton in that group and you got a wacky screwball comedy.

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Producer: “Rex, we want you to spend the day throwing axes with your co-workers”

Rex: “Sounds like quarterbacking. There’s no value in that. Can’t we just hand the ax off to each other?”

 

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While the other guys were throwing axes, Rex snuck up behind and threw them under the bus. 

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On 1/29/2020 at 9:25 PM, kdels62 said:

They’re about to throw an insane amount of money at Romo. Like an ungodly number.

Which makes sense and to be expected as he’s loved.  

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I wonder if Rex handed out wrist bands, color coded for different throws?

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