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Lightning Round: Around the Horn panelists weigh in on show’s 10 years

Around the Horn celebrates its 10th anniversary today (5 p.m. ET). (ESPN)

This week marks the 10-year anniversary of ESPN’s Around the Horn, which debuted on Nov. 4, 2002.

The popular daytime sports talk and debate show will celebrate the milestone today at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Host Tony Reali — who penned this for Front Row yesterday — will be joined by an expanded group of panelists including show regulars JA Adande, Kevin Blackistone, Tim Cowlishaw, Israel Gutierrez, Bomani Jones, Jackie MacMullan, Woody Paige, Bill Plaschke, Bob Ryan and Michael Smith.

A special guest will also make an appearance.

In recognition of the anniversary, Front Row asked a few of the ATH regulars for their thoughts on the show, its success and the experience of being part of it the past decade. (Note: No points were awarded for these answers and no one was muted.)

Bob Ryan, the legendary Boston Globe sports writer, who has been part of ATH since the very first show:
“What is amusing to consider is that what we are the most successful spin-off of its kind ever. We exist because of PTI’s success. I sense that we skew a bit younger, and that one of the keys to our popularity is the idea among kids that the young guy controls his elders, even to the point of muting, as well as judging. A younger host is essential, and Tony is ideal.

“Whether it was [original host] Max [Kellerman] or now Tony, this is the hardest hosting job in the history of TV, period. You need to keep things moving with perpetual ad-libbing, all while working the levers. And they both have made it look so damn easy, when it’s anything but. I know I’d never want to do it.”

Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News, who made his debut on ATH’s second show (Nov. 5, 2002):
“The first person who contacted me about the show said it was probably going to be called ‘Zones’ or ‘Time Zones’ because they wanted a show where columnists from four time zones argued about sports. I was also told one of the ideas was that we would try to break news for the other cities — in other words, I would go on the show and tell Bob Ryan something that’s happening in Boston that he wouldn’t know. I thought ‘This is going to be a very difficult show.'”

Jackie MacMullan, columnist — and one of ATH’s two female panelists, along with Jemele Hill — who debuted during ATH’s second week (Nov. 12, 2002):
“It never ceases to amaze me what kind of impact the show has had on my career. The athletes all watch it — and often recite back to me what I’ve said about them. Shaq loves the show because, he told me, ‘I love it when you slam Kobe.’ Kobe loves the show, because, he told me, ‘I appreciate it that you always stick up for me.’ So there. They see and hear what they want to hear.

“I love the guys [and now Jemele] on the show. I feel a true kinship with them. In fact, in true ‘Mary Tyler Moore’ style, if a bunch of us are at a big event together, I require them to gather round and take a ‘team’ photo. We did this last year at the Super Bowl and myself, Bob Ryan, Tim Cowlishaw, Woody Paige and Bill Plaschke were all there. The best part was that Ryan was talking to Mike Lupica at the time. We asked Lupica to take the photo — and he botched it miserably, hitting the video button instead.”

Fun Facts about Around the Horn’s 10 Years on ESPN:
2,217 total shows
•Woody Paige leads all panelists with 424 wins
•Jackie MacMullan leads all regular panelists with a 33.6 percent win pct..
•Jay Mariotti once appeared on 265 consecutive shows
Full-time hosts (2): Max Kellerman, and Tony Reali (since Feb. 2, 2004)
All-time guest hosts (three): Rob Stone (June 30-July 4 and July 28-Aug. 1, 2008); Duke Castiglione (July 3-5, 2006); and Zach Selwyn (June 8-11, 2004)
Inaugural show panelists on Nov. 4, 2002: TJ Simers, Jay Mariotti, Bob Ryan and Woody Paige
30 panelists all-time (in order of when they debuted): TJ Simers, Jay Mariotti, Bob Ryan, Woody Paige, Tim Cowlishaw, JA Adande, Jackie MacMullan, Charlie Pierce, Gene Wojciechowski, Kevin Blackistone, Tony Reali, John Powers, Michael Holley, Adam Schefter, Bill Plaschke, Michael Smith, Mark Kiszla, Ron Borges, Dan Shanoff, Josh Elliott, Jim Armstrong, Richard Justice, Israel Gutierrez, Jean Jacques Taylor, Lil Wayne, Jemele Hill, Bruce Arthur, Bomani Jones, Andy Katz and Pablo Torre (who debuted on Oct. 25, 2012).
Show creator/producer and Disembodied Voice: Bill Wolff

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