Around the Horn

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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
Around the Horn logo.svg
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[edit]

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:

  • Introduction: A commercial-free transition to the opening moments of the show starts with the host, Reali, introducing the panelists as "four of America's most (themed) sportswriters". For example, if the "theme word" is "indifferent", the four panelists would all do their impressions of an indifferent sportswriter. The show itself is then introduced with Reali mentioning three topics to be discussed, then exclaiming "Ten topics, one winner. Horn me!" The opening theme plays, and cuts to Reali for an introduction. The panelists are then individually introduced and given time for an opening statement. Most of the panelists use this time for jokes or criticism of the host or other panelists, which can lead to points or mutes. (One such example is when Woody Paige used his time by blowing a miniature plasticine horn, as a pun towards the show's name; this resulted in Paige being muted by Reali.) Also any scoring changes that can be seen on ATH's YouTube page, Reali will tell the scores and announce the panelist or panelists that committed the "Pre-Show violation" before the first "First Word" topic.
  • The First Word: Two current sports headlines are discussed. The panelists give detailed arguments and can also give rebuttals to other panelists.
  • Buy or Sell: A rapid-fire segment in which the panelists are asked to "buy" or "sell" (be for or against) three different concepts, also drawn from current sports headlines. In the first few months of this format and sometimes used with three panelists, four topics were discussed, with each having a shorter time limit to fit between the first and second commercial breaks. In the case of a scoring change happening during the first commercial break, Reali will tell the scores and announce the panelist or panelists that committed the "commercial break violation" before the first "Buy or Sell" topic.
  • 1st Cut: The contestant with the lowest point total is eliminated. In the case of ties, Reali often breaks them by miscellaneous things, like whose hair is better combed. If the awarding of a point causes a tie for the two lowest panelists, Reali sometimes gives the same panelist a second point to break it. Sometimes on shows with three panelists, the lowest score is spared from elimination.
  • Out of Bounds: This round, always played as the third round, is dedicated to talking about one story which is indirectly sports-related. Serious and controversial topics, such as steroid use and suspensions, are usually discussed in this round, and few to no points are awarded. This was a daily feature from the time of the format change until late October 2009. It is occasionally tied together with the "Lightning Round". "Out of Bounds" is now used in ATH today.
  • The Lightning Round: Another third round, this being a continuation of the sports discussion with two or three rapid-fire topics. Reintroduced to the show in November 2009; a different "Lightning Round" was part of the original ATH format.
  • 2nd Cut: The next contestant with the lowest point total is removed, leaving just two. (In the event all four contestants were in the third round (mostly an important Out of Bounds), the two lowest point totals are eliminated.) The camera then reveals the final two contestants and Reali typically says something to the effect of, "Two men enter, one man wins!" right before the cut to commercial.
  • Showdown: Mentioned above, the two remaining columnists take sides on any sports or cultural stories remaining. There are two or three questions, depending on the amount of time left. Usually, the westernmost panelist goes first for the first topic, with the other speaking for the second half. The panelists then alternate going first for the remaining topics. Each topic is timed between 15 and 40 seconds each depending on time remaining. Reali usually gives a panelist one point per topic, although he occasionally gives more than one point or deducts points depending on the strength or weakness of the argument. Only once there was a one-person showdown and a four people showdown.
  • Face Time: The winner of the showdown and therefore winner of that particular episode gets around 30 seconds (more or less depending on time left in show frame) to talk about anything he or she wishes to discuss. Most of the time these are sports related, but often their own personal life or an issue in pop culture or the news is discussed. Lounge music is played in the background as the winner talks. The lounge music is not played in serious Face Time (deaths, major news (both sports and non-sports related)).
  • Goodbye: Reali says how long it will be until the next episode, for example, "we're on a 23-and-a-half hour break." On Fridays, he will sign off by saying "a 71-and-a-half-hour break." If there is an extended period until the show comes back on, Reali may simply say, "You do the math!"
  • Paper Toss: Signature sign-off of the show, with Reali crumpling his notes and throwing them towards the camera. As he does this, the panelists will often continue to chatter in the background as the show ends. Since the summer of 2016, Reali has gone more towards throwing paper airplanes or flicking paper footballs toward the camera.
  • PTI Next: This simply tells viewers just that: that Pardon the Interruption is up next.

Previous format[edit]

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:

  • The Opening Round: The two biggest headlines of the day.
  • The Lightning Round: A quick-moving round with four topics where players had to make their points quickly or risk getting muted by Max Kellerman, the former host. Somewhat similar, though not entirely, to the Lightning Round currently on the program.
  • The Bonus Round: One final topic, with the panelists trying to earn some last-second points, followed by a sports trivia question for each panelist, worth five points.
  • The Medal Round: The panelists earned Face Time equal to their scores converted to seconds, in reverse order of their placing. The winner received a gold medal, second place received silver, third place got bronze, and the fourth-place finisher was given a foil ball. More often than not, due to time restrictions, the panelists were given less time than they earned, or at least one panelist would not be given any time at all. During this round, panelists could appeal to the Disembodied Voice for more points.

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.


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.

Notable episodes[edit]

Milestone appearances[edit]

  • On September 7, 2010, Woody Paige celebrated his 1500th appearance on the show.
  • On March 10, 2011, Woody Paige made his 1600th appearance.
  • On April 27, 2011, Bob Ryan made his 300th appearance.
  • On September 26, 2011, Kevin Blackistone celebrated his 600th appearance.
  • On October 3, 2011, Woody Paige made his 1700th appearance.
  • On June 19, 2013, Woody Paige made his 2000th appearance on the show.
  • On June 9, 2016, Kevin Blackistone celebrated his 1000th appearance on the show.
  • On July 11, 2016, Tim Cowlishaw made his 1500th appearance.

Milestone wins[edit]

  • On September 8, 2009, Woody Paige defeated Jackie MacMullan to get his 300th career win. During his 30-second Face Time, he awarded himself a self-made "bronzed" blackboard with 300 written on it, and having one of his production assistants throw confetti on him (some of which got in his mouth and he playfully choked on), and had the same assistant pie him in the face.
  • On October 20, 2009, Jay Mariotti became the second panelist to get a 300th career win.
  • On January 28, 2010, Tim Cowlishaw got his 200th career win.
  • On January 27, 2011, Bob Ryan earned his 100th career win after defeating J.A. Adande in the Showdown.
  • On February 28, 2011, Tim Cowlishaw earned his 250th victory by beating Michael Smith in Showdown, who himself was looking for his 100th victory.
  • On March 4, 2011, Michael Smith earned his 100th victory by beating Tim Cowlishaw in the Showdown with a score of 2-1.
  • On July 7, 2011, J.A. Adande earned his 200th victory, becoming the fourth panelist with 200 victories after Paige, Cowlishaw, and Mariotti.
  • On August 30, 2011, Bill Plaschke got his 200th win, becoming the fifth panelist to do so.
  • On September 22, 2011, Jackie MacMullan earned her 100th win, becoming the ninth panelist with 100 victories.
  • On February 8, 2012, Woody Paige earned his 400th win. Paige's daughter Shannon made an appearance and pied him in the face.
  • On June 25, 2012, Tim Cowlishaw got his 300th career win.
  • On May 7, 2014, Kevin Blackistone got his 200th career win.
  • On August 19, 2014, Bomani Jones got his 100th career win, making him the 10th panelist to reach triple digits in the show's history.
  • On July 28, 2015, Bill Plaschke got his 300th win.
  • On August 13, 2015, Woody Paige got his 500th win. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper awarded Paige his 500th Victory Cup at the end of the show.
  • On April 22, 2016, Tim Cowlishaw got his 400th career win.

Milestone episodes[edit]

  • On November 4, 2002, Around the Horn aired its first episode. Woody Paige, Jay Mariotti, Bob Ryan and T.J. Simers were the first four panelists to appear on the show. T.J. Simers won with 11 points, while Ryan, Mariotti and Paige were the runners up, respectively.
  • On July 10, 2007, Around the Horn celebrated the show's 1,000th episode with a highlight package at the beginning of all the best moments of Around the Horn since its first episode. Jay Mariotti won the Showdown in daring fashion. Because it was the 1,000th episode, Mariotti got an extra three seconds of Face Time.
  • On September 27, 2010, Around the Horn was broadcast for the first time in HD. The SD version is widescreen 16:9. The format of the show remained the same, however, the graphics were noticeably upgraded along with a few other tweaks in the show's appearance. Bill Plaschke defeated Woody Paige for the first win under the HD format.
  • On August 1, 2011, Around the Horn started skipping the panelist intro. Around The Horn continued to skip the panelist intros except on Halloween and the Around the Horn Tournament of Champions Shows.
  • On November 2, 2012, Around the Horn aired a tenth anniversary show. The episode featured the return of original host Max Kellerman and the Disembodied Voice.
  • The episode on July 31, 2013 marked the last time the program would be broadcast on ESPN America, and hence the last time the show was available to the rest of the world outside the USA and Canada. Reali ended the show, won by Jackie MacMullan, by recognizing this.
  • The April 21, 2016 episode was the first to feature four female panelists (the first possible in about a month with the introduction of Sarah Spain during that span). From plasma four to plasma one (left-most screen to right-most screen) were the aforementioned Spain, Kate Fagan, Jemele Hill, and Jackie MacMullan. Interestingly, the panel happened to be coincidentally ordered from least tenured on the show to most (if counting from plasma four to plasma one).

Notable showdowns[edit]

  • On August 5, 2009, the Showdown was between Mariotti and Plaschke, which ended with the final topic about Lou Holtz possibly running for the United States Senate. Reali asked both of them who on the panel would make a good congressman. Mariotti, who was in the lead at the time, commented that eliminated panelist Kevin Blackistone would be a great congressman. Due to this, Reali gave the Face Time to Blackistone instead of Mariotti.
  • On February 11, 2011, Reali decided to mix up the showdown a little bit. He announced that the day's Showdown would be called "Final Schmeopardy". The point system was played in the style of the "Final Jeopardy" round of the quiz show "Jeopardy!". The topic was introduced, a Jeopardy-style title card was shown, and Reali discussed the topic as normal. He then told both panelists to write down the number of points that they wanted to wager on that question. Whomever Reali judged to have given the better answer was awarded the number of points that they wagered. Whoever "lost" the topic lost the number of points that they wagered. After three questions, Bill Plaschke defeated Jackie MacMullan in a come-from-behind victory with a score of 29 to 25. With 29 points, Plaschke set a record for points earned in the Showdown.
  • On June 3, 2011, Woody Paige was the first panelist going into the Showdown in the regular format with -3 points. Also, Tim Cowlishaw was the only panelist in positive points because Paige, Bomani Jones, and Bill Plaschke said the NBA Finals was over after two games.
  • On June 13, 2011, Reali penalized Bill Plaschke, Woody Paige, and Kevin Blackistone, who all had claimed that they would prefer to take on the Dallas Mavericks in the second round in the NBA playoffs. The Mavericks won the NBA Finals the night before. As a result, Plaschke started with –60 points (the second lowest ever in Around the Horn history), Paige started with –46 points, and Blackistone started with –31 points. Jackie MacMullan (who was not on the aforementioned episode) started with 15 points. MacMullan wound up with sixty points. Strangely, MacMullan was awarded the victory after the Lightning Round when both Blackistone and Paige failed to break even, and she was the only person in the Showdown. She was awarded two points on top of her earlier points for her solo performance for a total of 62 points and fell behind the ATH points record by 2 points.
  • On February 7, 2012, Michael Smith defeated Woody Paige in the Showdown despite the score showing Smith losing 1–2, after Paige made a comment earlier in the show that "points don't matter", referring to Kobe Bryant becoming fifth on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
  • On December 20, 2012, Woody Paige beat Israel Gutierrez with 0 points in the Showdown, after Gutierrez lost five points after self-promoting his basketball skills.
  • On May 30, 2014, in reference to the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee ending in a tie, Woody Paige and Pablo S. Torre ended up being named co-winners of the show, which Torre protested while Woody celebrated.
  • On February 18, 2016, two segments were contested between Plaschke and Blackistone. Plaschke preceded to win with a total of zero points.
  • On April 21, 2016, Sarah Spain was defeated by Jackie MacMullan in the showdown on the first show to feature all-female panelists.

Notable scoring moments[edit]

  • On June 19, 2008, there was no scoring or muting. This led to all four panelists reaching Out of Bounds and the Showdown, with nobody being declared the winner. This occurred after Woody Paige encouraged viewers to come up with ways to improve the scoring system.
  • On May 25, 2010, Kevin Blackistone was awarded a record 13 points during the Showdown in a 13–0 shutout of Tim Cowlishaw, the largest margin of victory in Showdown history to that point. In the Face Time, Blackistone expressed excitement over the future of prospect Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals.
  • On June 24, 2010, Woody Paige had the lowest point total after "Buy or Sell". When Reali asked him if he had any last words, Bob Ryan, who thought that he himself had the lowest point total, responded. Reali decided that if Ryan wanted to leave the show that badly, he could go. Reali subtracted enough points so that Ryan was in last place, then eliminated him.
  • On August 30, 2010, Tim Cowlishaw started out the show with -57 points because of an incorrect report about Darrelle Revis. This is the third lowest point total ever at one moment. Also, they returned with a new room.
  • On January 10, 2011, Bill Plaschke was the first panelist in Around the Horn history using the regular format to enter the Lightning Round with -15 points. This came with a missed pick in the NFC Wildcard Game against the Saints and Seahawks.
  • On January 9, 2012, Bob Ryan started out the show with –29 points for giving the Denver Broncos no chance of winning on January 6. Denver won their football game over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Woody Paige would go on to break Michael Smith's previous scoring record with 71. In addition, Paige defeated J.A. Adande 15-0 in the Showdown, breaking the show's record for the largest margin of victory in the Showdown.
  • On January 19, 2012, Tim Cowlishaw began the show with –50 points for what Reali referred to as a "pre-show violation." A video posted on the show's YouTube page revealed that Cowlishaw had suggested that fellow panelist Jackie MacMullan had botox.
  • On January 14, 2013, all four panelists started with -13 points. J.A. Adande, Bomani Jones, and Jemele Hill got most of the NFL Playoff games wrong (J.A. did it via Twitter while Bomani and Jemele did it on the January 11, 2013, show). Michael Smith was off for two months.
  • On June 28, 2013, Jackie MacMullan started off the show at -500 points (the lowest score ever in Around the Horn history) after Doc Rivers became the head coach of the LA Clippers. Jackie had said that Doc Rivers would stay in Boston.
  • On March 24, 2015, Pablo S. Torre started show with -107 -93 for choosing 16 Lafayette over 1 Villanova incorrect and -17 for missing an email about the topic.
  • On February 8, 2016, Woody Paige started the show with 50 points for being the only panelist to predict the Denver Broncos would win Super Bowl 50.
  • On August 5, 2016, Kevin Blackistone was the lead Washington panelist in Plasma 2. The Buy or Sell round saw him subbed out of JA Adande who was on assignment in DC and advanced to the showdown. He was then replaced by Bomani Jones in the Showdown, which he won and Bob Ryan did the Face Time in his place as both of them also were on assignment in the American Capitol. After the Face Time, Tony Reali decided that each would receive a quarter of a win.

Notable panelist moments[edit]

  • On August 11, 2008, Michael Smith, senior writer for, returned to the show for the first time in nearly a year and went on to win the show with 25 points over Tim Cowlishaw, J. A. Adande and Woody Paige. Before the show, Tony Reali said "Who's that guy in Boston?". Smith has been in the rotating pool of panelists ever since.
  • On August 20, 2010, Jay Mariotti made his last appearance on the show, scoring 33 points, and losing in the Lightning Round. Around the Horn went on a 10-day hiatus, but Mariotti was arrested for domestic violence involving his girlfriend on August 21, 2010.
  • On August 5, 2011, Gene Wojciechowski made his return to the show as a panelist.
  • On August 21, 2014, Tim Cowlishaw was awarded a second victory for his impersonation of comedian and writer Stephen Wright during his Face Time.
  • On August 5, 2016, Kevin Blackistone (first segment - 17/26), JA Adande (second segment 9/26), Bomani Jones (won showdown over LZ Granderson 3 to -1), and Bob Ryan (face time) all took turns in Plasma 2 out of Washington, and were each awarded a quarter win for their collaborative effort, a "four-man rotation" said Tony Reali as Ryan spoke during the facetime.

Notable Paper Toss Moments[edit]

Tony Reali is 35 for 2727 as of September 7, 2016, including unorthodox paper tosses (see below). No official stats for Pablo S. Torre are currently available (though he has at least one direct hit) while Michael Smith is one for two.

  • On August 26, 2016, guest host Michael Smith made several tosses to the camera - all of which including the first was successful.
  • On September 6, 2016, Tony Reali - rather than throwing a paper snowball at the camera - threw a paper airplane and made a direct hit at the camera.
  • On September 7, 2016, Tony Reali used a paper football instead of the traditional paper ball and missed to his wide right.

Bill Plaschke's un-eliminations[edit]

  • On April 4, 2012, for scoring in the 100th percentile in the ESPN Tournament Challenge for the NCAA tournament, Bill Plaschke received 3 free un-eliminations, giving him the power to avoid elimination three times.
  • On April 13, 2012, he used his first to knock out Bomani Jones, and would go on to win the Showdown against Tim Cowlishaw.
  • On June 27, 2012, he used his second, again knocking out Bomani Jones, but this time he lost in the Lightning Round.
  • On December 19, 2012, he used his third and final un-elimination, once again knocking out Bomani Jones, saying that he "needed to help himself" to keep his hopes alive for the 2012 Tournament of Champions. However, he was eliminated in the Out of Bounds round.

Kate Fagan's un-eliminations[edit]

  • On April 5, 2016, for scoring in the 100th percentile in the ESPN Tournament Challenge for the NCAA tournament, Kate Fagan received 3 free un-eliminations, giving her the power to avoid elimination three times.
  • On May 2, 2016, she used her first to knock out Tim Cowlishaw, and would go on to lose the Showdown against J.A. Adande.

Special editions[edit]

  • On March 8, 2013, ATH aired a special Battle of the Sexes edition, featuring two of the most prominent male panelists (J.A. Adande and Woody Paige) and both the show's only active female panelists (Jemele Hill and Jackie MacMullan). It was the first time ever both Hill and MacMullan appeared in the same episode. Paige went on to defeat MacMullan in the Showdown.
  • Beginning Feb 10, 2014, to coincide with the Sochi Winter Olympics, ATH began "The MMXIV Games of Competitive Banter" during which the show follows its normal pattern of scoring and cutting the contestants down to one finalist, but then a mock gold, silver, or bronze award is given out depending on performance. 3 points are awarded for the last journalist standing (the gold), 2 for silver, 1 for bronze, and the totals will be added to through Feb 21, when a final winner is declared. J.A. Adande scored the first gold, Israel Gutierrez silver, and Woody Paige bronze. On the final day of the tournament, Feb 21, Pablo S. Torre won the gold, finishing with a total of 5 points. However, Woody Paige had already clinched as the tournament champion with his gold medal win the day before, amassing a total of 14 points for the 2 weeks, while Tim Cowlishaw finished with 13, and J.A. Adande with 6, for third place overall.
  • On March 25, 2015, a fifteen-minute edition of the show took place due to a soccer game between Denmark and the United States. Michael Smith and Pablo S. Torre received a quarter of a win.

April Fool's Day episodes[edit]

  • 2009 Woody Paige hosted the show, with Reali taking his place as a panelist. Paige took great delight in muting Reali, while constantly deducting points from Reali and rival Mariotti. He changed the rules so the highest point total was eliminated, rather than the lowest, leading to a showdown between Reali and Mariotti. Mariotti won, but Paige quickly muted him and campaigned to be the new host, as Plaschke, Mariotti and Reali chanted, "Wood-y! Wood-y! Wood-y!"
  • 2010 The show was played backwards beginning with the end credits, then Paige with his Face Time, then subsequent rounds being done in reverse order, with points being deducted and guests being added.
  • 2014 The show was presented in a sitcom format complete with a laugh track and theme song.
  • 2015 The show was presented in a "Time Machine" format traveling to both the past and future to discuss events from those times.
  • 2016 The show was presented as a political debate. The candidates - McMullen, Torre, Isola, and Paige from left to right - were in studio at podiums with a large American flag backdrop. The audience reacted to the answers the candidates made to questions by Reali, Marv Albert, Papi Le Batard, and the Saved by the Bell principal, Mr. Belding. McMullen led the Approval Ratings wire to wire. Torre was in a deep hole throughout, but nearly won at the end with his 4-second speech on robots for America.

Halloween episodes[edit]

Since 2008, panelists have dressed in costumes during Halloween. Here are the costumes worn by them during each year.

Tournament of Champions[edit]

Since 2011, Around the Horn has celebrated the Tournament of Champions among its panelists on December. Since then, the competing panelists and winners have been the following:

  • On December 26, 2011, Kevin Blackistone wins Around the Horn's first-ever year-ending Tournament of Champions show. Bill Plaschke, Woody Paige and Tim Cowlishaw were his opponents.
  • On December 21, 2012, J.A. Adande won the 2012 Tournament of Champions, a week-long tournament where the winners of the previous 4 days (including Tim Cowlishaw, Woody Paige, and Bob Ryan) competed against each other in a final debate.
  • On December 24, 2013, Pablo S. Torre won by supporting the "rocket frog" photo as the picture of the year in the final showdown against fellow panelist Woody Paige. Bill Plaschke and Jackie MacMullan also qualified for the final show.
  • On December 24, 2014, Bill Plashcke won by choosing a proper creepy clip of fellow panelist Pablo S. Torre on Highly Questionable in the final showdown over Kevin Blackistone.
  • On December 21, 2015, Woody Paige won the Tournament of Champions, edging out Tim Cowlishaw in the final round. Jackie MacMullan and Bill Plaschke were also apart of that years Tournament of Champions show.


Guest hosts[edit]

  • Zachariah Selwyn (June 8, 2004 – June 11, 2004)
  • Duke Castiglione (July 3, 2006 – July 5, 2006)
  • Rob Stone (June 30, 2008 – July 4, 2008 and July 28, 2008 – August 1, 2008)
  • Woody Paige (April 1, 2009, as an April Fool's Day prank, as Tony Reali took Paige's place.)
  • Pablo S. Torre (March 12, 2014, August 7 – 15, 2014, August 25 – 29, while Tony Reali took time off after the birth of his daughter, March 2 – 6, 2015 – June 5, 2015, June 12, 2015,[6] June 13, 2016 – June 17, 2016, July 11, 2016 – July 15, 2016; and August 22, 2016 – August 24)
  • Michael Smith (August 25, 2016 – August 26, 2016) when Pablo Torre was asked to fill in for sister program Pardon the Interruption, despite Torre subbing in for host Reali earlier in the week.


Active panelists[edit]

Former panelists[edit]

Guest panelists[edit]

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[edit]

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
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[10]
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
  • Percentages rounded to the nearest tenth.

Former panelist statistics[edit]

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[edit]

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).[11] 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. ^
  6. ^ Hofheimer, Bill (2008-08-27). "Counterfeit Stat Boy, Pablo S. Torre, relishing the Reali fill-in role". ESPN Front Row. 
  7. ^ 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. ^
  9. ^ Blankstein, Andrew (May 11, 2011). "Former ESPN personality Jay Mariotti charged with felony stalking and assault". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 19, 2012. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ A transcript of a live chat with Woody Paige

External links[edit]