Front & Center: ESPN Senior VP for SportsCenter and News/Information Rob King

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Rob King (ESPN Images)
Rob King
(ESPN Images)

Last week’s release of the Wells Report involving Miami Dolphins Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin was just the latest in a series of reminders of the “N” word’s presence in sports.

This Sunday as part of ESPN’s Black History Month programming, the network will air an hour-long show titled “Outside the Lines Special Report: The “N” word” (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET).

Hosted by Bob Ley, the show will examine the word, its history and feature a live discussion (see below).

In advance of the special, ESPN Senior Vice President for SportsCenter/News and Information Rob King shared some thoughts on the project in this Front & Center podcast.

Among the topics discussed with King are: Why now is the time to do this special; Why OTL is the proper platform; Usage of the “N” word in the pre-produced features; What he hopes viewers will get out of the show.

Features included in OTL’s Special Report

Guests scheduled to join Bob Ley, as of Wednesday, include: COMMON; Ryan Clark, Pittsburgh Steelers; Jemele Hill, ESPN; Dr. Richard Lapchick; and Jason Whitlock, ESPN. (Additional guests pending.)

Three features appearing in the special:

1. The show’s open, filmed in Birmingham, Ala. at the church where the 1963 bombing occurred, includes Sarah Collins Rudolph, the bombing’s lone survivor. The piece features entertainer COMMON reading a Wright Thompson-penned introduction.

2. Byron Pitts of ABC News reports on the history of the “N” word in sports from Jack Johnson through Richie Incognito. This piece includes Pitts at his Baltimore high school where he heard the word as a young football player.

3. “Outside The Lines'” T.J. Quinn reports on what the “N” word means to today’s younger generation. Student-athletes from Teaneck (N.J.) High School, the nation’s first school district to voluntarily integrate, are interviewed. It includes anecdotes/thoughts on the word from former professional athletes such as Chauncey Billups, Briana Scurry, Mean Joe Greene and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

TheWrap.com has more on the special.

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