After more than a week of radio silence, ESPN’s Maria Taylor has finally come out of the woodwork to respond to the controversy surrounding her comments about Rachel Nichols. It began on January 20th when Maria’s comments on Nichols can be heard on the SportsNation podcast. “We’re talking about a woman’s body. We’re talking about a woman’s body. I was just going off what I know and what I’ve seen. I’ve never been around Rachel Nichols before this ever, but I’ve been around women before and I’ve never seen a woman’s body like Rachel Nichols’s.”

On Tuesday, ESPN personality Rachel Nichols made an appearance on the Today Show, where she spoke about the controversial decision by the network to fire her after only a year on the job. The move came as a shock to many, including Nichols herself, who had been with ESPN for only 33 days. After Nichols finished talking about the network’s decision, the host asked her if she would ever return to work for them again. Her answer should have ended the interview, but then she went on to say, “I don’t know, I have no plans to,” before being asked if she would ever present her own show on the network.

Maria Taylor Bolts ESPN After All the Rachel Nichols Drama

Taylor, Maria ended up where she was likely going all along after a tumultuous deal with ESPN. Taylor’s contract with ESPN was out, thus she moved to NBC Sports. She will serve as a reporter and co-host for NBC’s Prime Plus coverage of the Tokyo Olympics. Taylor worked for ESPN for eight years. Her time with the sports media giant came to an end with coverage of the NBA Finals.

That assignment followed a scandal in 2020 concerning ESPN colleague Rachel Nichols is a model and actress.’ remarks. Those remarks, which Nichols accidentally captured, were later released to the media. Following such remarks, Nichols was heavily criticized. On-air personalities on the network were split between pro-Nichols and pro-Taylor factions.

According to the New York Post, Taylor and ESPN eventually split ways with a joint statement. The hatchet did not end up buried in someone’s forehead since each side spoke nice things. However, the uproar served as a reminder that, despite all of the progress achieved, there is still a long way to go.

Maria Taylor took a long time to reply.

During the dark moments, I remind myself that I am in a position to open doors and light the way for others. I’ve been hit, but that simply means I’m still in the game. Always remember to lift as you rise and KEEP RISING. pic.twitter.com/ztSIx9CLpO

July 7, 2021 — Maria Taylor (@MariaTaylor)

Following Nichols’ remarks, The New York Times’ Kevin Draper wrote on behind-the-scenes infighting at ESPN on July 4. She seemed to imply that Maria Taylor was chosen to anchor NBA Countdown because she is black.

Nichols’ first remarks, made in July 2020, prompted a debate within ESPN that lasted until Taylor’s resignation.

“I wish Maria Taylor the best of luck in her career – she covers football and basketball. If you need to give her additional things to do because you’re worried about your poor track record on diversity — which, by the way, I personally know from the female perspective – go for it. Simply look for it elsewhere. You’re not going to get it from me or take it away from me.”

Rachel Nichols

Nichols was chastised for only supporting Black journalists when she had no personal interest in the result.

Taylor did react to the issue with a tweet a few days after the Times story to keep the conversation on track.

At NBC, Maria Taylor will have a chance to cover the NFL and Super Bowl.

Maria Taylor ended up leaving ESPN for NBC Sports

Maria Taylor ended up leaving ESPN for NBC Sports On January 1, 2021, ESPN commentator Maria Taylor reports from the sidelines at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome during the Allstate Sugar Bowl College Football Playoff Semifinal between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Clemson Tigers. Getty Images/Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire

Maria Taylor’s new job at NBC Sports started with coverage of the Olympics. She will, however, collaborate with the Football Night in America broadcast crew. When NBC returns to the Super Bowl, she will be a part of the coverage.

Taylor’s remarks in an NBC Sports news release were positive.

“I’m ecstatic to be working with Pete (Bevacqua), Molly (Solomon), Sam (Flood), Fred (Gaudelli), and the rest of the NBC Sports team. Hosting the Olympics, Football Night in America, and the Super Bowl are all things I dreamt of when I first began in television, and none of this would be possible if I didn’t stand on the shoulders of people who came before me and paved the way. And I want to repay the favor.”

Maria Taylor

The possibility for some early discomfort comes with the Football Night in America responsibilities. Drew Brees, the recently retired quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, has inked a deal with NBC. Taylor was a vocal opponent of Brees’ comments last year regarding players demonstrating during the national anthem.

So, what’s next for ESPN?

ESPN has received a lot of flak over the years for its less-than-stellar track record when it comes to workplace diversity. Former ESPN writer Hill, Jemele slammed the network, according to a Los Angeles Times piece by Iliana Limón Rivera.

“This isn’t a tale about Rachel and Maria. This is the tale of why they didn’t respect Maria enough to let her assume full responsibility for the work. ESPN gathers Black faces, but there seems to be an issue when those Black faces become Black voices.”

Jemele Hill

Several Black ESPN workers told the New York Times that Nichols’ remarks confirmed a long-held perception. Whites at the network, according to some, are exclusively openly supportive of Blacks.

It’s simple to support a cause that has no bearing on your daily life. It’s much simpler to show your support just when it’s most useful to you. What we do when no one is looking defines what sort of individuals we are in the end.

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