Dan Orlovsky’s media career has been a complete turnaround from his NFL career.
The ESPN NFL analyst is one of the top voices and minds in the game through compelling film breakdowns on “NFL Live” and color commentary of the No. 2 NFL booth of the network. His work has been so excellent that he’s publicly mentioned that he’s had some conversations with teams to become a coach in the NFL.
His media success contrasts an NFL career that featured him starting seven games for the 2008 Detroit Lions that went 0-16. The fifth round selection in the 2005 NFL Draft is also infamously known for running out of bounds in the endzone during a live play, one that haunts him to this day but is often a humorous point that he’s learned to be playful in the media.
But in the NFL Pro Bowl precision passing event on Thursday, Orlovsky showed that despite not playing an NFL game since 2015, he still has the arm talent of a pro quarterback.
Orlovsky tried his hand at the event, and the former QB threw the pigskin in a button down polo and dress shoes to an impressive score of 27 points. That score that would have beat out all of the current NFL Pro Bowlers — including Jalen Hurts, C.J. Stroud, and Tua Tagovailoa — who participated in the first round of the official competition.
If Joe Flacco can…🤷🏼♂️ pic.twitter.com/9n7sqJnxEy
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) February 2, 2024
Then on an episode “First Take” on Feb. 5, Stephen A. Smith and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo quickly reacted to Orlovsky’s performance — but the two had very different reactions.
Smith was complementary of Orlovksy, who is often a guest Smith’s “First Take.”
“Now we have this footage and we can lean on this to big up our boy Orlovsky,” Smith said.
But Russo’s mocked Orlovsky saying this exhibition does not have any weight.
“Indoors in a pair of pants on tossing a football around — Who cares?” Russo said. “He ran out of the endzone, nobody cares. That’s like [Stephen A. Smith] making 15 free throws in an empty gym and then he goes into the ball game and is four-for-ten at the line with the game on the line.”
“First Take” host Molly Qerim went to Orlovsky’s defense saying she found it “impressive” and that she cares about this accomplishment. But Russo doubled down on his claims and continued to call back at Orlovsky’s subpar NFL career.
“He was a scrub in the NFL!” Russo said. “This does not make up for that.”
Sports Illustrated writer Jimmy Traina tweeted out a video of the “First Take” segment and Orlovsky let his thoughts be known about what his colleague had to say about him on live television.
“May be a HOFer but this is classless,” Orlovsky replied to Traina on X (formerly Twitter).
May be a HOFer but this is classless
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) February 5, 2024
Orlovsky paid some respect to Russo’s Radio Hall of Fame credential before calling him “classless.”
It’s going to be interesting to see what Russo’s response is — especially if these two ESPN colleagues end up on “First Take” together again in the near future.