Desmond Howard to Rece Davis Is Desmond Howard ... 'Gonna Have to Choke a Bitch?!'

Desmond Howard learned a new rule in 2019 -- you can't quote Dave Chappelle as much as we used to ... especially on a Disney-owned network, at a Disney-owned park.

The former Heisman winner and NFL kick returner -- who's since become a TV analyst -- was on ESPN Saturday talkin' college football with Rece Davis and other broadcasters ... when he invoked a line from an old "Chappelle's Show" skit that caught immediate backlash.

The line -- in response to Rece asking if his alma mater, University of Michigan, could beat Ohio State -- went like this ... "Is Desmond Howard gonna have to choke a bitch?"

Funny, right? WRONG!!! At least that's what a ton of people watching had to say about it soon after. And, apparently, the ESPN honchos thought so too ... 'cause Des apologized.

He came back on the air later and flat-out said sorry if he offended anybody.

Des also tweeted about the incident, saying he didn't realize the joke was so obscure. Of course, he's referring to the line Wayne Brady dropped on a classic 'CS' episode, when he poses the same question to a prostitute during a 'Training Day'-esqe sketch.

Des later posted a clip that aired on ESPN in 2014, in which a commentator also made reference to the famous line. Problem is ... it's 2019, not 2014 -- and definitely not 2004. Also, Des works for ESPN (which Disney owns) and he said this at Disney World. Bad mix!!!

To make matters even more murky, Wayne Brady himself responded to the incident, showing support to Des and thanking him for the fandom. But, Wayne also said, "Choke who you wanna choke, have fun, and I'm a big fan of yours too." That raised eyebrows as well.

Ah, the times ... they are a-changin'.

ESPN Delays Shooter Game Broadcast 'Out of Respect' for Shooting Victims

Breaking News
EA Sports

ESPN has postponed its broadcast of a shooter-style video game tournament that was scheduled to air this weekend ... in light of the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

The Apex Legends Battle Royale game -- which has a Teen rating -- is huge in the gaming community and is Fortnite's biggest competitor in the genre. It has "cartoonish" characters that use weapons to eliminate opponents.

The network was planning to air footage from the EXP Invitational at the X Games that was held on August 2 ... but our sources confirm it's been pushed back "out of respect for the victims and all those impacted in the immediate aftermath of the shootings."

Of course, President Trump partly blamed video games for the 2 mass shootings in Ohio and Texas -- where at least 31 people were killed -- in a speech at the White House on Monday.

"We must stop the glorification of violence in our society -- this includes the gruesome and grizzly video games that are now commonplace," POTUS said.

BLAME THE GAME

"It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence."

Our sources say the broadcast has NOT been scrapped ... and will eventually air in October.

Don Jr. & Eric Trump Full Day of UFC Fights ... Colby Wins, Gives 'Em a Shout-Out

Exclusive
TMZ

3:12 PM PT -- Colby Covington just beat Robbie Lawler's ass in the Octagon, and won via unanimous decision. When he finally got a chance to gloat on the mic ... he shouted out the Trumps -- which was met with peppered boos from the crowd. It appears to be one of the first signs of semi-rejection the Trump boys were met with throughout the afternoon. 

1:50 PM PT -- Colby Covington now has the full support of all the Trumps, including the President ... who just wished him good luck ahead of his fight with Robbie Lawler. 

Dana White just chimed in as well. Seems like he's down with the Prez's support.

Donald Trump Jr. and his brother, Eric Trump, are getting the early bird special at the UFC fight in New Jersey this weekend -- 'cause they showed up hours before the big bout.

President Trump's sons are sitting cage-side right now at the Prudential Center in Newark for the UFC on ESPN 5 event, where welterweights Colby Covington and Robbie Lawler are facing off for the main event. Colby personally invited DTJ and co. -- they're pals.

Sources connected to the event tell TMZ Sports that Don, Eric and their brood -- which appears to include Don's GF, Kimberly Guilfoyle and at least one kid -- arrived Saturday around 10 AM PT ... an hour after the first fights kicked off at 9 AM.

TMZ

Kinda interesting if you think about it -- that means the Trumps are going to presumably stick around for a bit until the Covington/Lawler fight at noon ... which makes for a jam-packed day of Octagon action. Five matches have already been decided, so you gotta imagine the Trump crew caught at least two of them, so far.

It also looks like ESPN followed through on their plan to not keep the famous family off camera -- despite backlash it may or may not spark. They're all getting a healthy amount of screen time at the moment on TV, which we were told was expected ahead of the event.

TMZ

As you know, the UFC is made up of pretty diverse fighters ... and with their pops being labeled a racist of late, the Trump boys' inclusion in this event was expected to be a powder keg of sorts.

No issues so far though, from the crowd or otherwise ... hopefully it stays that way.

Originally Published -- 11:50 AM PT

Jalen Rose I Tried to Hash Things Out with LaVar ... After ESPN Drama

Breaking News
TMZ

Jalen Rose says he tried to like hell to have a conversation with LaVar Ball in the hours and days after an on-air incident with his wife ... but, "I have not been able to track him down."

Remember, Rose's wife, Molly Qerim -- one of the hosts of "First Take" found herself in the middle of a major controversy over comments LaVar made to her during a June 17 episode ... comments some people found sexist and inappropriate.

While trying to switch topics, Ball told Molly ... "You can switch gears with me anytime."

After the episode, ESPN condemned Ball's comments and said they had no plans to bring him on air again any time soon. 

Enter Rose ... who says people have FALSELY claimed that Molly pushed ESPN to 'ban' Ball. Rose says ignorant fans have been wrongly harassing Molly, claiming she took down another black man. 

Jalen is pissed ... saying Molly wasn't trying to take out ANYONE -- and suggestions she has it out for LaVar because he's black is just stupid. 

"Y’all know she’s married to a black husband, right?" Rose said ... "She’s been doing this for 15 years. She knows how to navigate. She knows how to take care of herself." 

Rose also says Molly made her position CRYSTAL CLEAR when she spoke with TMZ Sports the day after the incident ... saying decisions about "banning" Ball are above her pay grade. 

They Have My Back
TMZSports.com

Rose says he has a lot of respect for Ball for what he's accomplished -- and reached out to him multiple times to talk things out ... but they haven't been able to connect. 

Sounds like he wants a civil conversation ... he's not looking for a fight. 

For his part, LaVar says his comment was not meant to come off as sexual in nature -- claiming he sincerely just wanted to switch topics. 

2019 NBA Draft Class Can't ID OutKast in ESPN '90s Challenge ... All Good w/ Good Burger

Wanna feel old? Just watch these young NBA Draft picks struggle mightily to identify what rap group Andre 3000 and Big Boi were in together ... it'll get ya right in the wrinkles.

This is actually hilarious ... ESPN put together a BTS web segment called "Name the 90's," in which a handful of players from the 2019 NBA Draft class were asked to identify people, items and shows from that glorious decade. Safe to say, they all had a hard time.

Guys like Coby White (Bulls), Jarrett Culver (Timberwolves) and Rui Hachimura (Wizards) shuffled through a bunch of cards with photos of stuff like a Super Nintendo, an Easy-Bake Oven, a fanny pack, Tia and Tamera Mowry, Destiny's Child and, of course, OutKast.

That last one really tripped up the young bucks, as most couldn't even say A3 or BB's names. Darius Garland (Cavs) is the ONLY one who said OutKast outright, and Coby did say the MCs' names correctly -- assuming we heard him correctly (Andre 2000???).

Funny enough ... almost all the players were quick to ID Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell's classic 1997 flick, "Good Burger" -- without skipping a beat, really.

Just goes to show you what's got legs with these 2000s kids (most of these guys were born in the year 2000). Forget "Aquemini" ... queue up another Nickelodeon rerun!!!

Molly Qerim ESPN 'Had My Back' After LaVar Ball Comments

EXCLUSIVE
HAVEN'T HEARD FROM HIM...
TMZSports.com

Molly Qerim is breaking her silence after the LaVar Ball incident on "First Take" -- telling TMZ Sports she's grateful for the way ESPN execs "had my back" after the way LaVar talked to her on-air.

"ESPN was really supportive," Qerim told us Tuesday morning in NYC ... "All the executives had my back. Much appreciated."

The network quickly condemned Ball's comments to Qerim on Monday as "inappropriate" -- when he told her, "You can switch gears with me anytime."

We asked Molly if LaVar (or anyone in the Ball family) had reached out to apologize -- and she told us, "I haven't heard from anybody, but to be honest with you I shut my phone off after work."

As for her how famous NBA star husband, Jalen Rose, handled the situation -- Molly says, "I think Jalen would have just liked if [LaVar] would have apologized to me publicly."

Does Molly think ESPN should ban LaVar from coming back on "First Take" or any other ESPN show? We asked that too ... check out the clip.

For his part, LaVar is adamant the comments were NOT intended to be sexual in nature -- and he insists he meant no disrespect.

LaVar Ball Denies Making 'Sexual' Comments ... to ESPN's Molly Qerim

Breaking News

12:38 PM PT -- ESPN issued a statement ... saying, "LaVar Ball’s comment to Molly Qerim Rose was completely inappropriate and we made him aware of that."

LaVar Ball is adamant the comments he made on-air to ESPN's Molly Qerim on Monday were not intended to be "sexual in nature" ... despite the way it sounded on live TV.

The head of the Big Baller Brand appeared on "First Take" to discuss the blockbuster trade that sent his son, Lonzo Ball, from the L.A. Lakers to the New Orleans Pelicans ... when things went off the rails.

When Molly asked LaVar if she could "switch gears" and pivot to another topic, LaVar responded, "You can switch gears with me anytime."

Several people condemned the comments, including ex-ESPN star Jemele Hill ... saying, "Kudos to Molly [Qerim] for the professional way she handled LaVar Ball after his inappropriate comment. Maybe ESPN will have finally learned its lesson about putting him on TV."

Now, LaVar's rep, Denise White, is issuing a statement from the BBB camp ... saying, "[LaVar] was asked if he wanted to switch gears, in his mind switching gears was 'changing the subject anytime' and he said, 'yes, you can switch gears with me anytime.' At NO time was that intended or meant to be sexual in nature."

This isn't the first time LaVar has been under fire for comments he made on-air to a woman -- back in 2017, he told FS1's Kristine Leahy to "stay in your lane" after she questioned him about his parenting style.

Originally Published -- 12:18 PM PT

Charles Barkley Rips Jussie Smollett 'Shoulda Just Went to Liam Neeson's Neighborhood'

Breaking News
CLOWNIN' JUSSIE
TNT

Charles Barkley WENT OFF on Jussie Smollett on "Inside the NBA" on Thursday -- saying if the actor really wanted to be a hate crime victim, he shoulda just gone to Liam Neeson's neighborhood.

It's just one of SEVERAL shots Barkley took at the "Empire" actor during the show -- but it was definitely the strongest.

Remember, Liam Neeson recently revealed that he once grabbed a weapon and went hunting for a "black bastard" in Northern Ireland after a friend of his claimed she was raped by a black man.

People RIPPED Neeson for the comments -- because it's racist as hell -- but now he's become the punchline for Barkley's Jussie Smollett jokes.

"Jussie ... you wasted all that damn time and money! You know what you shoulda did? Just went out into Liam Neeson's neighborhood! Coulda solved all your damn problems."

The guys also aired a fake $3,500 check -- like the one Jussie supposedly gave to two brothers to beat him up. Barkley laughed wildly while that one aired.

There's more ... Charles addressed the viewers:

"America, let me just tell you something. Do not commit crimes with checks! If you're gonna break the law, do not write a check! Get cash man!!

That's when Shaq finally stepped in and told Barkley to shut it down.

Ex-Marlins President Flips Off And Trolls Hecklers ... 'F*ck You!!!'

Breaking News

Ex-Miami Marlins president David Samson egged on hecklers at a party this weekend ... flipping off the crowd, bragging about his team's sale and then screaming, "F*ck you!!!"

It all went down at ESPN personality, Dan Le Batard's birthday party in Miami ... where Samson -- one of the biggest sports villains in the city -- got up onstage for a speech.

The dude -- who many blame for making the Marlins a mess and forcing city's taxpayers to foot the bill for their new stadium -- was boo'd relentlessly before he could even open his mouth.

Samson's message to his haters??

"Thank you so much. Thank you very much. Here's why I love when you guys boo me. Right? I want you guys to keep booing me. Because guess what? $1.2 BILLION! F*ck you!!!!"

Of course, Samson's reference represents the amount of cash he and former owner Jeffrey Loria were able to sell the Marlins for, to Derek Jeter last year.

For their part ... both Samson and Le Batard say the whole thing was a joke, with Samson writing on Twitter, "Actually,not at all how it happened. All on tape and all in good fun. And, all for Lebatard’s birthday. No bragging, no fleecing."

Added Le Batard, "These bleeping fun suckers. Samson was playing the heel wrestling manager. No one would seriously wear that jacket. I was booing Samson before taking the mic from him. You don’t get the show."

Begs the question ... how many Marlins fans laughin' at this one??

ESPN's Cari Champion Defends Stephen A. Smith ... After NFL Brainfart

EXCLUSIVE
CUT HIM A BREAK
TMZSports.com

Don't worry, Stephen A. Smith ... your colleagues got your back!

The ESPN star went viral on Thursday because of his DISASTROUS pregame analysis of the Chargers game ... which included a bunch of guys who weren't even playing.

It was a mess ... and HILARIOUS!

He mentioned Hunter Henry as a key player while noting the way he's played this year. The problem? Hunter's been out all season with a torn ACL.

Stephen also mentioned Derrick Johnson as a player to watch for the Chiefs -- despite the fact he hasn't been on the roster since 2017. Good times!

So, when we saw ESPN's Cari Champion at LAX, we had to ask ... WHAT HAPPENED?!

"Stephen A. is a very smart man. He has a lot going on and he is extremely smart," Champion said.

"I think Stephen A. has a lot to do ... a lot on his plate ... he knew exactly what he was talking about ... we all make mistakes."

She added, "[You] try doing live television 20,000 hours a day!"

For his part, Stephen A. called the situation a "brain-lock moment" and clowned himself on Twitter.

"It’s called a MISTAKE because I was think of Virgil Green, but mentioned Hunter because I was multi-tasking. That’s what happens when you’re doing a thousand things."

"But I don’t blame you if you told me to 'Stay Off The Weeeeeeedddddddd.!' That was a brain-lock moment."

ESPN's Cari Champion Check Yourself, Kareem Hunt ... Then We'll Talk 2nd Chances

EXCLUSIVE
MAKING A STATEMENT
TMZSports.com

Kareem Hunt's immediate release from the Kansas City Chiefs is the team's way of sending a STRONG message to all players ... according to ESPN's Cari Champion.

Cari was at the Ebony Power 100 event in Bev Hills Friday night, very shortly after the Chiefs reacted to the video TMZ Sports published ... showing Hunt shove, kick and throw a woman to the ground during a February incident in Cleveland.

She says the video forced the team's hand and they were "sending a message ... they're saying what's important to them and what they stand for."

THE BRUTAL FOOTAGE
TMZSports.com

The NFL has Hunt on its "exempt list" currently -- meaning he can't practice or play in a game right now, but he has not been banned or suspended. Point is ... he could land on another team eventually.

Cari believes everyone, even Hunt, deserves a second chance -- however, she said he needs to "start looking at the man in the mirror. You gotta do a Michael Jackson."

As for the Chiefs swift reaction ... she thinks they knew something was coming down the pike.

LSU Legend Marcus Spears Dirty LSU Chant Is 'Terrible' ... But We Gotta Keep It!

EXCLUSIVE
IT'S PART OF THE ATMOSPHERE
TMZSports.com

LSU has been trying like hell to stop the student section from chanting, "Suck that Tiger d**k, b*tch" during football games ... but LSU legend Marcus Spears says it just ain't gonna happen.

A little background ... whenever the LSU marching band plays Cameo's 1984 hit, "Talkin' Out The Side Of Your Neck," the student section shouts out the explicit alternate lyrics instead.

The school has made a concentrated effort to phase out the dirty chant -- but it hasn't worked. Here's video of the kids in Baton Rouge busting out the song as Joe Burrow and co. thumped Georgia in the real Death Valley last Saturday. You can even hear it during live TV broadcasts. It's crazy.

Enter Spears -- who won a National Championship playing for the Tigers in 2003 and was a consensus All-American defensive end in 2004. He now works for ESPN and agrees the chant is pretty bad.

"It's terrible, man. It's terrible."

But, Spears says the students love it and it fires up the players -- so, he doesn't really want to see it go either.

"It's a legitimate gripe, but at the same time, it's a part of the atmosphere. It's a part of the gameday thing."

"If you could somehow convince [the students] to clean it up, that would be great. But, we know what Neck is about, Neck is about getting the team motivated."

So ... to all visiting teams and fans ... if you find yourself on Nicholson Drive on a Saturday we got one word for you ... EARMUFFS. Neck is forever.

Burt Reynolds Helped Lee Corso Bang Chicks At FSU

EXCLUSIVE 2007
BURT PULLED CHICKS
TMZSports.com

Did you know ... ESPN's Lee Corso was Burt Reynolds' college roommate back in the day?

It's true -- the two lived together at Florida State when Burt was a member of the Seminoles football team. And, according to Lee, Burt would often help him out with the ladies!

Lee used to tell the story when talking to college athletes back in the day -- and recounted it at a football event back in 2007.

"We would send him out for bait," Corso said ... "He would go to the student union and bring two girls back. One was gorgeous and the other one was ugly."

"He always took the beautiful girl ... and gave me the ugly one."

"But, you know what I found out early? Burt Reynolds' ugly girlfriends were better than anything I could get on my own."

R.I.P.

NFL Network Settles Lawsuit With Marshall Faulk Accuser

EXCLUSIVE

The NFL Network has reached a settlement with the former wardrobe stylist who claimed she was sexually harassed by several high profile network stars including Marshall Faulk.

As we previously reported, Jami Cantor sued the network in 2017 claiming she was "subjected to ongoing and continuing sexual harassment by current and former on-air talent."

Among those mentioned in her suit ... Faulk, Warren Sapp, Ike Taylor, Donovan McNabb, Heath Evans and Eric Davis.

The allegations were graphic -- Cantor claimed Faulk pulled out his genitals in front of her and asked invasive questions. She claimed some of the other men sent her sexually explicit text messages and penis pics.

In her suit, Cantor claims she complained to NFL Network execs but nothing was ever done. Instead, Cantor claims she was fired in 2016 and replaced with a much younger woman.

The network suspended Faulk, Taylor and Evans in wake of the lawsuit ... and McNabb and Davis were fired from their gigs with ESPN.

NFL Network had previously filed legal docs denying wrongdoing and suggesting Cantor consented to the misconduct ... but now, new court docs show NFL Network reached a settlement deal with Cantor and the case will be dropped.

The details of the settlement were not disclosed in the document. We reached out to NFL Network -- but a rep declined comment.

Donald Trump Starts Petition for 'Spineless' ESPN ... To Play Anthem On 'MNF'

EXCLUSIVE

Donald Trump is taking his beef with ESPN to the masses -- he's launched a petition to try and get the "spineless" network to play the national anthem during the "Monday Night Football" broadcast.

ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro had said last week that "We generally have not broadcasted the anthem and I don't think that will change this year."

Trump was PISSED and sent an email to his supporters announcing that he's started a petition to get "The Star-Spangled Banner" on TV.

"Just after we heard a sitting governor trash America, ESPN has now decided it will no longer play the National Anthem before Monday Night Football," the email from Trump said. The governor referred to is NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo ... who made headlines last week for saying America "was never that great."

Trump's email continues ... "If 'America' is too offensive for anyone in our country, then what are they doing in America?"

"I’m calling on you to join me in denouncing this SPINELESS surrender to the politically correct liberal mob. I was the first person to sign this petition. Now I need you to follow my lead and be the second."

Trump began railing against ESPN at Tuesday's rally in West Virginia -- where he told the crowd, "It was just announced by ESPN that rather than defending our anthem, our beautiful, beautiful national anthem and defending our flag, they just won't broadcast when they play the national anthem."

"We don't like that," Trump added.

DISSIN' THE NFL
Fox News

"So, while the players are kneeling, some of them not all of them at all, you're all proudly standing for our national anthem."

Trump has made his position on the anthem crystal clear -- he wants to fire any player who does not stand for the entire song.

Trevor Bauer Apologizes To ESPN ... You Didn't Make Me Look Crazy

Breaking News
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

Trevor Bauer is much less pissed off at ESPN today ... 'cause it turns out the company DIDN'T actually air a tweet that he says made him look like a "lunatic" after all.

ICYMI ... the Indians superstar is famous for being a baseball brainiac -- and when he broke his leg last week, a reporter had some fun at Trevor's expense with the diagnosis news.

"Trevor Bauer says that the doctors' timeline for his return is based on outdated mainstream medicine and he's begun a course of blood transfusions and colloidal silver to rid his body of CIA nanites," Ringer staff writer Michael Baumann tweeted.

"He anticipates missing two starts, three tops."

Bauer initially found the tweet hilarious ... but when he believed MLB Network and ESPN ran with the tweet as fact -- he was not happy.

"Presenting it as fact on tv, thus painting me as some lunatic that’s off his rocker, is not ok at all," Bauer tweeted.

He continued in another tweet: "Hey @MLBNetwork and @espn I would like public statements on social media and on your networks clarifying that the information you wrongly reported as fact earlier regarding my recovery timetable and process is false and not a quote from me. The report is damaging and absurd."

Turns out ... ESPN didn't actually run the tweet -- which caused Trevor to issue a 35-second apology video Monday evening.

"It appears the information I was given and what I believed to have seen was wrong, and ESPN never aired the fake tweet."

"As spreading misinformation that damages people's reputations is what I was originally angry about, I wanted to set the record straight and apologize to ESPN for wrongly accusing them of broadcasting this misinformation."