Mike Lupica’s reputation within sports media circles is not good. The words “insufferable,” “pompous,” and “diva” have been used to describe him and those are the kinder ones.
The latest story from Page Six’s Richard Johnson does nothing to refute that. Johnson reports that the blame for the cancellation of The Sports Reporters can be squarely placed at the foot of Lupica. The New York Daily News columnist has been a regular panelist on The Sports Reporters along with Mitch Albom, Bob Ryan and others, but when host John Saunders passed away last August, Lupica became the moderator of the show.
Last month, ESPN announced that The Sports Reporters final program will air in May.
UPDATE: ESPN has issued this statement from President John Skipper denying that Lupica was the main reason for the cancellation of The Sports Reporters:
“The story suggesting that the decision I made about the future of The Sports Reporters had anything to do with Mike Lupica is completely inaccurate. Mike has been a constant throughout the show’s long history and played an important and constructive role in the difficult transition following the tragic death of his good friend and long-time host John Saunders.”
Johnson reports that when Saunders passed away last August, Lupica wanted desperately to be the man who replaced him. But Johnson writes that Lupica didn’t help the program’s cause by mistreating staff and being a bloviator.
“He was a total diva,” one insider said. “He was abusive to people, and mean to the staff.”
But the biggest problem was that Lupica talked too much.
“When you’re a panelist, you are there to give your opinions. When you’re the host, you’re supposed to elicit other people’s opinions. He could never shut up,” said my source.
There’s no word from either Lupica or ESPN on this. We’ll see if ESPN will have Lupica make the rounds on TV as it did Steve Young or if radio silence will be maintained.