Rich Eisen has been a fixture in the sports media firmament for a quarter century. Sharp and funny, as well-versed in pop culture as in the prevent defense or the pick-and-roll, Eisen was still in his twenties when he first lit up ESPN during its heyday in the 1990s, before becoming the face of the NFL Network and his eponymous talk show and podcast. But what sets Eisen apart from many of his peers is his comfort in the place where top-flight athletics collide with broader social and political dynamics — which set him up perfectly to cover the traumas and dramas of 2020, as the sports world was shaken by a raging pandemic and the upheaval spawned by the killing of George Floyd. With our annus horribilis finally coming to a close, Heilemann and Eisen reflect on the lessons that players, owners, and leagues have learned from grappling with COVID-19, the unprecedented wave of sports activism unleashed by Black Lives Matter, and the media's response to it all.
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