ESPN’s Mike Greenberg (seen above) created a frenzy Wednesday on Mike and Mike, citing a “general sense” from people around the league of an “ever-widening gap” between Andrew Luck and the Colts and saying “There’s some talk that even with that enormous contract and that enormous talent, we could be seeing, right before our eyes, the end of the Andrew Luck era in Indianapolis.” Luck’s agent denied that to the Indianapolis Star, saying “The speculation/rumor is simply not true” and calling it a “non-story.”
On Thursday, a couple of Greenberg’s colleagues appeared to take further pokes at him. Mike Golic Jr. poked fun at this on his own ESPN Radio show First and Last, including inviting listeners to call or tweet in fake rumors, and on Mike and Mike itself, Greenberg had quite the conversation with ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter. Here’s a Star transcription of that from Dakota Crawford:
Greenberg: Yesterday I was talking about Andrew Luck here on the program and I had heard something…
Schefter: Where did that come from?!
Greenberg: I had heard from people there that he is frustrated — or whatever the word that I used was — with the direction of the franchise. I got an enormous amount of pushback on that. I called his agent, and it’s important to point out his agent steadfastly denied it. So we’ll take him at his word.
…Schefter: I know you came up with the statements you did, he signed a five-year contract last year. He’s not going anywhere. They can’t deal him and don’t want to deal him. So, to me, they’re with each other for better or worse. And there remains a question as to when he’ll be back.
Meanwhile, on ESPN Radio’s First and Last Thursday, Mike Golic Jr. (son of Greenberg’s soon-to-be-ex-co-host Mike Golic) went in on this (along with Producer DanZ), first mocking Greenberg and then encouraging listeners to call in with fake rumors. The full podcast can be found here (by the way, both the file name and photo reference Golic Jr.’s former co-host Robin Lundberg, who was let go in April as part of the ESPN cuts; they might want to fix that), with the Golic-on-Greenberg comments starting at 36:30. Here’s a file with just those comments.
Some choice highlights there (all comments from Golic Jr. unless indicated otherwise):
“Yesterday, something strange happened. We kind of understand generally at ESPN the roles everyone plays here, we’ve got analysts, we’ve got hosts, we’ve got newsbreakers. And, while the world of sports media is kind of drawing tighter and tighter, so some of the lines get blurred on there, our own Dianna Russini for example is someone who is a reporter, goes out, is very dialed-in with a lot of teams, especially the Washington Redskins given her time in the D.C. area, but you’ll also see her hosting NFL Live, doing a lot of different things, wearing different hats. Someone who I never really associated with that role was our own Mike Greenberg.”
“…Generally, Mike Greenberg’s regarded as one of the best hosts we’ve got around this network, a great ability to drive a show, lead discussions, do all these things. But not necessarily break news in the way that he attempted to yesterday. And do it, really, with very little basis of fact underneath it. And so, yesterday, the topic of conversation of Andrew Luck came up, as it has, finally recently, a way that it didn’t most of the preseason as Andrew Luck recovered from shoulder surgery, was ruled out very early in Week One, followed up by being ruled out for Week Two, and so the Tolzien Colts, as they will now be known coming off their drumming by the Redskins, have a lot of question to answer. One of which, apparently, according to Greeny yesterday, was about the relationship between the organization and their star quarterback.”
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“And it’s funny because Greeny said this thing in a way that presents it as factual, but if you think about the sentiment behind it, it wouldn’t be shocking if Andrew Luck was upset with the Colts for the way that his entire tenure with Indianapolis has gone. Yeah, they gave him that big contract, but they’ve also failed to protect him for most of his time there as far as the offensive line, weapons around him-wise, the running back situation’s never been perfect…in general, the criticism of the Colts has been they haven’t done enough with the quality and caliber of the quarterback they have there. It just gets funny to think about this, because we don’t often associate Andrew Luck and his personality, he’s sort of a goober, he’s a big goofy affable guy, he’s got a deep funny voice, so we don’t often associate Andrew Luck with workplace discord.”
Dan then talks about how Greenberg walked this back a little later in Wednesday’s show, and how he admitted he didn’t distinguish his own speculation enough from what he’d heard, with Dan saying “It just came across as more factual than his own personal speculation,” and Golic saying “Exactly. So the presentation of those things matters and that’s why it got blown up to be what it was. Greeny was essentially starting NFL rumors on Mike and Mike. So we’ve been trying to brainstorm all morning, and maybe you guys can help us, you can tweet at us…”
“If you’ve got any NFL rumors, listen, if you’ve heard something, if you live in Cincinnati and you’ve heard something from a guy at the deli about Marvin Lewis’ job, all sources are good sources in this scenario. If you’ve got a NFL rumor you believe is worth us getting started here at First and Last to try and make waves, cause it made waves for Greeny, and we’re not above self-promotion here at First and Last. …”
They then went on to discuss a whole lot of rumors, both of their own and from callers (a highlight is “Rusty in Green Bay,” who says “My dad’s barber’s sister’s kid just told me that Brett Favre has re-enlisted his grandkids in school up here.”), and it was pretty light-hearted and funny overall. But it’s still interesting to hear Golic Jr. take shots at Greenberg this way, especially considering that the relationship between Golic Sr. and Greenberg has been repeatedly reported as not great (despite Golic denials) with Greenberg getting set to leave Mike and Mike for his own show. (Also, can we just point out that it’s hysterical that a guy who bashed accurate leaks about his own career is now promoting seemingly-inaccurate leaks about someone else’s?) And ESPN-on-ESPN crime is always fun, and this certainly qualifies there.