I caught up with this piece over the weekend. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald had a write-up during a media session with the ESPN president last week in Miami.
Skipper, candid as always, addressed the controversy and fallout from Rob Parker’s comments about Robert Griffin III on First Take.
“I like Rob, (but) what he said was clearly inappropriate,” Skipper said. “The fact nobody caught it and (ESPN) re-aired it showed a significant lack of judgment. I met personally with the producers and told them how disappointed I was and we were going to suspend some of them, and I expect them to be more careful in the future.”
Despite the flap, Skipper remains a fan of the First Take.
“It’s a debate show, and we get a lot of criticism for it,” Skipper said. “You just have to figure out where you walk the line (between) being provocative and stepping over it and saying something stupid. We’ve done that once or twice on this show.”
But Skipper said the segment “shouldn’t be built on people saying outrageous things. It should be built on vigorous discussion and debate. We’ve got a very successful show, Pardon The Interruption, which is a debate show, but it works because of the judgment and the brains of Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon and (producer) Eric Rydholm.”
Skipper added that “Stephen, Skip and (producer) Jamie Horowitz are bright guys. They ought to be able to figure it out. The show has worked. The ratings have gone up.”
On other subjects of interest, Skipper expects Jon Gruden to return to the booth in 2013. He also thinks Jeff Van Gundy will continue to work as an analyst.
As for Van Gundy’s brother, Stan, Skipper talked about why ESPN didn’t hire him.
Skipper explained he didn’t hire outspoken Stan Van Gundy because “Stan walks a line. That’s part of what made him attractive. It ultimately scared us off.”
Skipper heard Van Gundy criticize NBA commissioner David Stern in a September podcast with Jeff Van Gundy and Dan Le Batard and that “was a factor” in his decision to pass on Stan. “I decided not to do it,” Skipper said. “Stan has a little bit of a legitimate beef. I think he rightly believed he was going to get offered a job.”