Around the Horn

Not to be confused with the baseball term, also known as "around the horn".
This article is about the ESPN sports discussion show. For the BBC radio comedy, see Round the Horne.
Around the Horn
Genre Sports talk, debate, competitive banter
Presented by Max Kellerman (2002–2004)
Tony Reali (2004–)
Pablo S. Torre (Guest host, 2014–)
Starring Woody Paige
Bill Plaschke
Kevin Blackistone
Bob Ryan
J.A. Adande
Jackie MacMullan
Michael Smith
Bomani Jones
Tim Cowlishaw
Pablo S. Torre
other sports writers (see below)
Theme music composer Umphrey's McGee
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 2,580 (as of June 1, 2014)[1]
Executive producer(s) James Cohen,
Erik Rydholm,
Mark Shapiro
Producer(s) Dan Farmer,
Aaron Solomon,
Bill Wolff
Running time 30 minutes
Original network ESPN
Picture format 480i (4:3 SDTV) (November 4, 2002 – February 4, 2011)
480i (16:9 letterbox SDTV) (February 4, 2011 – present)
HDTV 720p (September 27, 2010 – present)
Original release November 4, 2002 – present
External links
Official Website

Around the Horn (ATH) is an American sports roundtable discussion show conducted in the style of a panel game that is produced by ESPN. The show premiered on November 4, 2002 as a replacement for Unscripted with Chris Connelly and has aired daily at 5 pm Eastern on ESPN ever since.

ATH is recorded in New York City as of September 8, 2014. Prior to that the program emanated from Washington, D.C., where it was located in the same studio as Pardon the Interruption (PTI).

The moderator for ATH is Tony Reali. He has hosted the program since 2004, and until the relocation to New York, Reali was also the statistician on PTI.


Around the Horn premiered on November 4, 2002. From its premiere until January 2004, the show was hosted by Max Kellerman, who at the time was largely known strictly as a contributor to ESPN's Friday Night Fights. Kellerman departed from the network for Fox Sports (he has since returned) and after the show tried out several replacements, current host Tony Reali was named the permanent host beginning with the February 2, 2004 broadcast.

The show's launch team and daily production management was led by broadcast executives James Cohen, Todd Mason, Mark Shapiro, Erik Rydholm and Joseph Maar. On July 10, 2007, the show celebrated its 1,000th episode in a show won by Jay Mariotti.

Around the Horn marked 10 years on the air Friday, November 2, 2012. On the eve of this anniversary, Tony Reali offered his thoughts on the show’s successful run and what the opportunity has meant for him:

"Pele wore it on his back. Phil Jackson once wore it on his head. Pearl Jam debuted with it. Dudley Moore thought Bo Derek was it. Ten. X. 10. And now, it’s our number. 2,217 shows and I can remember every single one except that show from April 11, 2005. Or, at least the 2,000-plus I have done. I remember the day Woody Paige almost choked on confetti and pop rocks celebrating his 288th win. The day Michael Smith broke out an impromptu Bad News Brown impression for 64 points. I remember having Lil Wayne on as a guest panelist and thinking "This guy could take all our jobs." I remember when Kevin Blackistone dressed as Barth (from You Can't do that on Television) for Halloween. I remember Jay Mariotti working 265 straight shows. 265 straight!

I remember February 1, 2004. I got the call to host the show the next day while watching the Patriots - Panthers Super Bowl. Max Kellerman was in contract talks. Could I sit in? I had been a panelist and hosted a couple of times but never a day after the Super Bowl. At first I said ‘no’. I was scared stiff. I couldn’t comprehend this was how ESPN hired its hosts. (Spoiler alert: It’s not.) I was 25 and my entire broadcasting career consisted of 10 seconds a day as "Stat Boy" and saying inappropriate things on radio at Fordham University . When I finally said ‘yes,’ I realized I had no clothes. I wore my only suit to work the next day — sweated through it — and put together a hosting stint that has to go down in history as the worst of all-time. But I did get through it, and I’m much better for it. I wore the same suit to work the next day, and by Wednesday I needed a new tie. It was 18 months later when I signed my first contract to host the show. Aaron Solomon is the producer and he is a rock. He’s steered this show to where it is now, along with (associate producer) Josh Bard, (executive producer) Erik Rydholm and (ESPN senior coordinating producer) David Brofsky . But, first and foremost, this show is about the panelists and our crew — currently Bob Ryan, Woody Paige, Tim Cowlishaw, Bill Plaschke, J.A. Adande, Kevin Blackistone, Jackie MacMullan, Michael Smith, Jemele Hill, Bomani Jones, Israel Gutierrez — and all of the panelists we’ve had through the years have carried us. If you want to say anything about this show, call it a survivor. I can’t think of a higher compliment. The thing I love most about hosting this show is that it mirrors my personality: sports, games, jokes, pop culture — and none of it taken too seriously. I mean, we have a mute button and a scoring system NO ONE UNDERSTANDS. I like that. And it’s only possible because we don’t take anything as life or death. And, I think, that was something the original reviewers of the show never got. Maybe the show didn’t always view itself like that. For me, the strength of this show is in the friendship and chemistry and relationship between the panelists and the discussion that comes from that. As host, my job every day is to try to tap into that. And that’s why we’ve started posting "Behind the Horn" scenes every day on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter — to show that these guys are real and none of what we do is fake. Our panelists amaze me. I owe a debt to them. And to Max, Bill Wolff and Jim Cohen (the original producers and creators). So, how do I show my appreciation? By putting their faces — and the faces of 90 other people who we couldn’t do this show without — in a Sgt. Pepper knockoff."

As of May 17, 2016, Woody Paige has 517.5 wins, which is the most in the history of the show.

The set

The original set was in the same Atlantic Video complex as the set for Pardon the Interruption. It featured the host's desk with the point triggers and mute buttons, opposite of four screens of the panelists with their score under them and the mute sign above them. Behind the host's desk was a map of the contiguous United States of America with the cities the sportswriters on the show appeared from. The map, divided into time zones, displayed the names of five newspapers representing each time zone. The Los Angeles Times represented the Pacific Time Zone, the Denver Post the Mountain Time Zone, the Dallas Morning News and Chicago Sun-Times both represented the Central Time Zone, and the Boston Globe represented the Eastern Time Zone. This was to create a regionally biased discussion, but this was later phased out.

When panelist Woody Paige was based in New York, the logo of Cold Pizza was added to the Eastern Time Zone side of the map as Paige also appeared on that program. Eventually, the logo of the Boston Globe was replaced by the word "Boston" as many of the contributors from Boston were no longer writing for the Globe. The map was eventually revised in this way for the other cities on the map, but there cities of other contributors were not added to the board (possibly due to a lack of space) before the map was removed. Panelists still appear from left to right as on a map of the United States, from the westernmost on the left to the easternmost on the right.

On September 27, 2010, Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption began broadcasting in high definition and moved from the Atlantic Video complex to facilities in the ABC News Washington bureau, where high definition sets were built for both shows.[2]

Each panelist appears either in the offices of their newspaper, in front of a screen representing the city in which they are located, or in another studio. Dallas, Denver, and Los Angeles (when Bill Plaschke is appearing) still use their newspaper offices as studio space while Washington, Miami, Chicago, and Boston each have their own screens. (Los Angeles employs this as well when J.A. Adande is a panelist.)


The current Around The Horn format consists of the following:

Previous format

Before the format of the show was changed in early 2003, the format was similar, wherein the first two rounds were largely the same but with different titles. There was a bigger difference after that. The show ran like so:

Despite the change in format, Reali still occasionally announces "ten topics, one winner" at the beginning of the show regardless of the number of topics.

This format ran from 2003 thru 2015:


The show "scores the argument" by awarding points or deducting points from panelists at the discretion of the host depending on the strength or weakness of their arguments. The awarding and deduction of points has changed throughout the series. Originally, under host Max Kellerman, being muted cost a panelist five points. Later, Kellerman changed the scoring whereby "good" answers received two points, "great" answers received three, and a mute subtracted three points from a panelist's score. Shortly before Kellerman left the show, the mute was reduced to its current -1. After Tony Reali took over the show, the number of points awarded or deducted was randomized at his discretion. For example, Reali might give a single point for a weak argument, or many points for a particularly strong case backed by statistical information, or not. Points may also be taken away for self-promotion, such as bragging about a good column or a successful upset prediction. (According to Reali, "Self-promotion is the mating call of the mute button!"[3]) In addition, complaints about how many points that they or another panelist received, usually results in a deduction and/or mute. Reali mainly uses the mute button when a panelist interrupts another panelist, begins to ramble, or changes his or her previous opinion on a given topic.

On January 9, 2012, Woody Paige set a new scoring record with 71 points. Michael Smith had held the points record before the showdown with 64 on January 20, 2011. The record had been set abeen by Jackie MacMullan in 2011. In the episode airing the day after Stephen Strasburg's debut, Woody Paige entered the showdown with 53 points despite having received a 25-point penalty at the beginning of the show due to a lost bet with Reali. The record for most points in the first round was set by Woody Paige at 41 points on October 30, 2009, that record was broken by Jackie MacMullan on May 12, 2010 with a score of 48, after she received a 25-point bonus for being named a recipient of the Basketball Hall of Fame's Curt Gowdy Media Award.[4] On November 18, 2011, Woody Paige reclaimed the title for most first round points and on January 9, 2012, increase the title to 55 points, after receiving 30 pre-topic points for correctly predicting a Denver Broncos win the night before. The highest margin of points going into Showdown was set on June 13, 2011, with Jackie MacMullan scoring 60 points, a 61-point lead over Kevin Blackistone with -1. The highest margin of points after a round was set on June 28, 2013, with Woody Page having 11 points, a 497-point lead from Jackie MacMullan, who had -486 points going into Buy or Sell. Subsequently, on that June 28, 2013 episode, Jackie MacMullan was eliminated at the First Cut with a record low score of -474 points, due to starting with -500 points because of incorrectly predicting that Doc Rivers would not leave the Boston Celtics. Her losing effort was applauded by host Tony Reali and other panelists, including Tim Cowlishaw and Woody Paige.

Reali also makes bets occasionally with the panelists on sporting events, with the panelist gaining or losing a lot of points based on the outcome. For example, in summer of 2007, Woody Paige made a bet with Reali that he could drink a gallon of water during the 30 minutes of the show. At the end, the tank was empty. On the next show, secret cameras revealed Paige dumping most of the water in a cooler. Rather than receiving the promised 100 points, Paige received several mutes. Paige also received 10 points from Reali on January 22, 2009, when on the previous episode's "Face Time" Paige cheered on the New Jersey Institute of Technology's basketball team to snap their 51-game losing streak, NJIT won, Paige received points and won again. Paige used the time to offer his "service" to any other failing team at any level.

Reali occasionally will deduct or award points of a panelist who had a strong opinion on a sports-related matter predicted earlier in time, which then turned out to be the staunch opposite of what truly happened when the topic showed itself on the show again. For instance, in the August 30, 2010, episode, Woody Paige was awarded points after it was learned Stephen Strasburg would need Tommy John surgery, this coming after Paige was docked points in the July 29, 2010, episode when he suggested the Washington Nationals should shut Strasburg down in his first trip to the disabled list.

There have been some topics, most during the Out of Bounds segment, which have not been scored due to their sensitive nature. Such examples include Bob Ryan's suspension for his comments towards Jason Kidd's wife, the Duke lacrosse case, former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillén calling Jay Mariotti a "fag", Ben Roethlisberger's motorcycle accident, Michael Vick's dog fighting and animal abuse, Rick Pitino's extortion scandal, Jay Mariotti's 2010 arrest, Aaron Hernandez first degree murder arrest in 2013, and other discussions of deaths. Other sensitive topics that do not award points are held at the beginning, such as the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, or the Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013.


Guest hosts


Active panelists

Former panelists

Guest panelists

Rapper Snoop Dogg appeared in early 2009 as a "guest" in the J.A. Adande lounge and contributed to an NBA-centered discussion, but left after the first segment after apparently being offended by a remark made by Paige.

Active panelist statistics

Correct as of September 4, 2016 (3,082 shows), listed in order of first appearance.

Name # wins # appearances winning % Special Notes
Woody Paige 524.5 2,345 22.4% All Time Wins Leader, All Time Appearance Record, Highest Scoring Record (71 Points) 2015 Around the Horn Tournament of Champions
Tim Cowlishaw 404 1,508 26.8%
Bill Plaschke 323 1,267 25.5% 2014 Around the Horn Tournament of Champions, 3rd Lowest score (-108 points)
J.A. Adande 294.25 1,112 26.5% 2012 Around the Horn Tournament of Champions
Kevin Blackistone 248.25 1,018 24.4% 2011 Around the Horn Tournament of Champions
Jackie MacMullan 185 630 29.4% Lowest Scoring Record (-474 Points)
Bob Ryan 159.25 533 29.9%
Michael Smith 136 448 30.4% Highest Active Winning Percentage (minimum 100 appearances)
Bomani Jones 137.25 490 28.0%
Israel Gutierrez 84 336 25.0%
Pablo S. Torre 68.75 272 25.3% 2013 Around the Horn Tournament of Champions
Frank Isola 52 214 24.3%
Jemele Hill 19 62 30.6%
Kate Fagan 22 89 24.7% First Appearance: 22 OCT 14[9]
LZ Granderson 4 19 21.1% First Appearance: 8 FEB 16
Sarah Spain 6 19 31.6% First Appearance: 25 FEB 16
Ramona Shelburne 3 8 37.5% First Appearance: 14 JUL 16

Former panelist statistics

Listed by most wins.

Name # wins # appearances winning % Special Notes
Jay Mariotti 329 1549 21.2%Consecutive shows record (265 episodes); Winner of 2009 April Fools episode hosted by Woody Paige; only episode to be score with golf score procedure (lowest points wins).
Michael Holley 34 120 28.3%
Jim Armstrong 18 75 24.0%
T.J. Simers 10 65 15.4% Winner of the Original Around the Horn Episode
Gene Wojciechowski 9 44 20.4%
Charlie Pierce 5 13 38.5%
Josh Elliott 5 23 21.7%
Adam Schefter 2 5 40.0%
Tony Reali 2 7 28.6%
Bruce Arthur 1 1 100.0% Highest Winning Percentage (tied), First Canadian Panelist, First Canadian Winner
Lil Wayne 1 1 100.0% Highest Winning Percentage (tied)
Mark Cuban 1 1 100.0% Guest Panelist, Highest Winning Percentage (tied)
Richard Justice 1 5 20.0%
Dan Shanoff 0 5 0.0%
Jean-Jacques Taylor 0 4 0.0%
Ron Borges 0 4 0.0%
Mark Kiszla 0 2 0.0%
Bob Glauber 0 1 0.0%
Andy Katz 0 1 0.0%
John Powers 0 5 0.0%

Running gags

During the show's long run, it has developed certain comedic long-running gags, much like its sister show Pardon the Interruption. The most recognizable gag is the chalkboard in the top-left hand corner of Woody Paige's square on which he writes witty phrases that are different for each segment of the show, usually puns, such as "I'm chalk-bored" (which are sometimes directed at Cowlishaw, Isola, Plaschke, even Reali - and formerly Mariotti).[10] Paige started using it while in New York, then brought it back to Denver a few shows after his return. In January 2010 Paige added an electronic ticker beneath the chalkboard and with shout-outs or other messages to athletes, viewers, or the show's competitors. Due to the chalkboard's popularity, he published a book entitled I Almost Ran Out of Cha... as well as having the saying available for viewing online.

Another running gag involving Paige was his friendly rivalry with Mariotti, playing off a real-life dispute the two men had while working in Denver. The two have appeared in more shows than any other panelist, and have also faced each other in the Showdown the most times. Paige often mocked Mariotti on his chalkboard, and also repeatedly muted him and deducted points when he guest-hosted the show.

After the title sequence, Reali will greet the audience with a lines such as "Hey, now!", "That's right!", or "What do you say? What do you know?" Frequently, Woody Paige will attempt to say one of these lines before Reali gets the chance.

Reali began introducing every episode with "Four of America's most ... sportswriters," inserting various adjectives sometimes, but not always, related to a sports story of the day. That however was phased out by the turn of the decade. He continues to come up with introductions with clever segues based on the day's topics. During Max Kellerman's tenure, Kellerman would begin the show by saying, "These four things, I know are true!" Reali used this early in his tenure on the show, but soon adopted his own phrasing.

Reali is known to regularly hold panelists to their predictions to the outcomes of games and other sporting events in which correct picks are handsomely rewarded and incorrect picks result in a hefty penalty during a given panelists next appearance on the program. Most notably, Pablo Torre has received a hit every year during the NCAA men's basketball tournament in which he has several time incorrectly predicted a 16 seed to upset a number 1 seed. Unlike in prior years, Torre predicted the team to beat the number one seed for the 2016 March Madness tournament before knowing which sixteen seeds won the first round "play-in" games. Following the conclusion of Super Bowl 50, Woody Paige was the only panelist to be awarded points for a correct pick (Denver had beaten Carolina) while the remaining panelists throughout the week had been penalized accordingly their corresponding first episode following the event.

Reali also often introduces the 'Showdown,' the final segment of the show, with the phrase, "Two men enter, one man ..." usually ending with a pun based around a winner. For example, on January 8, 2009, Reali introduced the 'Showdown' by saying, "Two men enter, one man wins a snuggie."

At the end of each episode, as the camera zooms out and some of the production staff come into view, Reali attempts to hit the camera with the rolled up ball of paper from that episode. Reali also ends most episodes with the tag-line "we're on a twenty-three and a half hour break" (seventy-one and a half if it's the Friday show). When it is an extended break in between shows, Reali usually says "you do the math".

During the early run of the show, Disembodied Voice would work in "Around the Horn" into his program breaks, such as "Will Shaquille O'Neal go, or hang around...the horn!" Other times, Disembodied Voice would use a word which sounded similar to "around" ("ground" or "down", for example) prior to "...the horn!" After Tony Reali assumed hosting duties, however, he stopped using the traditional "around...the horn!" and would instead say phrases such as "Horn me!" or simply, "Horn!" before a commercial break.

Tim Cowlishaw impersonated Raiders owner Al Davis before his death in October 2011 by using his accent in topics that involved the Raiders. This was initially viewed as hilarious by Tony Reali and the other panelists, however, was at times, muted because of the excessiveness of the voice impersonation. In an August 2011 show, Cowlishaw was docked points for not doing the impersonation during a topic regarding the Raiders' quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Cowlishaw has done other impersonations such as Sir Alex Ferguson.

Kate Fagan's Face Times have often been regarding a story featured by her or her ESPNW colleagues.

Certain panelists have certain jokes associated with them. Woody Paige has become famous for urging the others to "Look at the schedule!" Plaschke will often say "It's over" early in a playoff series. For a time, Bomani Jones had appeared with a WWE Championship belt and pinkie ring before losing the ring, which he calls a "panky rang." When J.A. Adande had won, his Face Time was usually spent in the "J.A. Adande Lounge" where he name-drops (and is occasionally visited by) celebrities. In recent years, Tim Cowlishaw has been known to try to earn points by beginning his arguments with "As the only panelist here who actually covered [an event]...." Cowlishaw also frequently adopts teams, calling them "My Cincinnati Reds" or "My San Diego Padres". As the Stanley Cup Playoffs near each NHL season, Cowlishaw will have a miniature replica of the Stanley Cup at the ready, usually during an elimination or Face Time. Additionally, after introducing Kevin Blackistone, Reali used to say "Everything appears to be everything." Blackistone has presented his hand face up and to his left when the two newer female panelists joined the show and is in the immediately adjacent plasma screen as Reali welcomes said new female panelist (Blackistone has continued to do so for both Kate Fagan and Sarah Spain after their subsequent appearances when to his immediate left). Reali usually says "Hello Jackie/Jemele/Kate/Sarah/Ladies" after introducing the female panelists. Jackie will respond politely, whilst referring to Reali as his full first name, Anthony. When Bob Ryan was eliminated in later appearances, he began to mention that another chapter would be added to his book of Face Times you've never heard. Torre frequents the idea of robots taking over the world, particularly involving instant replays and officiating of games.


  1. Reali, Tony (November 1, 2012). "Sgt. Reali's Around the Horn Club Band turns 10: 2,217 shows and counting".
  2. Ourand, John (December 11, 2009). "ESPN's "PTI" and "Around The Horn" going HD next fall". Washington Business Journal. Archived from the original on 2 October 2010. Retrieved September 24, 2010.
  3. "Around the Horn" (2002) - Memorable quotes
  4. Finn, Chad (May 12, 2010). "MacMullan is named Gowdy Award winner". The Boston Globe.
  5. Hofheimer, Bill (2008-08-27). "Counterfeit Stat Boy, Pablo S. Torre, relishing the Reali fill-in role". ESPN Front Row.
  6. Scott, David (2008-04-01). "Jackie Mack Taking Latest Globe Buyout". Boston Sports Media Watch. Archived from the original on 7 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-03.
  8. Blankstein, Andrew (May 11, 2011). "Former ESPN personality Jay Mariotti charged with felony stalking and assault". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
  10. A transcript of a live chat with Woody Paige

External links

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