All things considered, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s appearance Monday on NBC’s coverage of the Stanley Cup Final went just fine.
ESPN’s Keith Olbermann, however, has a bone to pick.
Earnhardt soon will become a full-time broadcaster when NBC Sports takes over the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule from Fox in July. To promote Earnhardt’s soon-to-increase role on the network, NBC brought him on for its intermission report during Game 4 between the Washington Capitals and the Vegas Golden Knights.
Watch Earnhardt’s segment below:
What you just watched was a run-of-the-mill example of cross-promotion. NBC wants people hyped for its NASCAR coverage, and featuring Earnhardt is, in theory, a good way to do that. This type of stuff happens in TV all the time.
You’d think Olbermann would understand that. Instead, the 59-year-old reacted to Earnhardt’s appearance by firing a bizarre shot at the recently retired driver, as well as blasting NBC’s attempt to meld seemingly incompatible fan bases.
Olbermann followed up those remarks with this tweet:
“It’s not just that @NBCSports has trotted out Dale Earnhardt Jr in its #StanleyCup pregame AND at the start of its 1st intermission, it’s the institutional tone deafness indicated by the belief there is any overlap between these two sports with utterly different demographics.”
Calling Earnhardt “some kind of retired stock car or cab driver or something” probably won’t go over well with NASCAR fans.
In response, Earnhardt tweeted a simple, to-the-point GIF.
Dirty Mo Media, which Earnhardt owns, had a little more to say.
At the end of the day, Olbermann is entitled to feel however he wants about NASCAR, Earnhardt, NBC and the NHL. And, if you’ve followed him over the years, you know he never has been shy about sharing his opinions on matters ranging from important to completely inconsequential.
Still, ripping a NASCAR legend/broadcasting newbie for dipping his toe in the NHL is a weird hill to die on.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images