The Paul Finebaum Show on ESPN Radio and SEC Network saw something highly unusual Tuesday afternoon, with host Paul Finebaum perhaps seeming ill and cutting off a caller midsentence, then the show going to an extended commercial break and a replay of some of Monday’s content, and then Peter Burns stepping into Finebaum’s chair without much of a comment on what was going on.
Update: an ESPN spokesperson says “Paul is fine. He wasn’t feeling well. He went home for the day and is already feeling better. Replacement host Peter Burns also addressed the situation on-air later, saying “Paul’s fine, by the way, I think he had some bad kale or something like that. He joked whenever he was heading out of the studio, I told him ‘You’re getting Wally Pipped,’ and he was like ‘You will never Wally Pipp me, my friend.’ Paul wants to call into the show, but I told him, I’m not taking his phone calls going forward.”
What happened here? Well, first, here’s Finebaum introducing a segment (around 3:45 p.m. Eastern) on Oregon players being hospitalized after a workout, but in uncharacteristically slow and somewhat stumbling fashion, and leaving some dead air. Producers John Hayes and Mark Kubiak then start talking about it:
Hayes and Kubiak discuss this for a couple of minutes, then there’s a relatively sudden cut back to Finebaum, who welcomes viewers back and then takes a call from Jim from Tuscaloosa:
Something still seems weird here, though, as Finebaum’s very quiet by his usual standards, letting Jim do most of the talking, only chiming in with a subdued “That’s a good point, Jim.” Jim even comments on this feeling off, saying, “You’re not very talkative, Paul, because you know I am nailing it.”
The call goes on for a couple of minutes of Jim talking, including him saying “Stay with me, Paul, try and work with me. You want this runaway train to be all by itself?” Finebaum leaves some long pauses, but then suddenly cuts Jim off midsentence with a “We’ll be right back, Jim, thank you for your time.”
That cut to break is at about 3:50 p.m. Eastern, and there are then about six minutes of commercials and then seven minutes of clips from Monday’s show with no explanation before the cameras come back on Burns taking the set:
Burns only says he’s “in for Mr. Paul Finebaum,” though, and there’s no immediate further comment on what’s going on with Finebaum. Hopefully he’s all right. We’ll keep an eye out to see if there’s any update from Finebaum or ESPN.