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Norm Macdonald's 1998 ESPYs Monologue Remains Unlike Anything Else the Network Has Ever Aired

By Stephen Douglas
Celebrities Out On The Town In Los Angeles
Celebrities Out On The Town In Los Angeles / Getty Images/Getty Images
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Norm Macdonald passed away on Tuesday. He was 61.. It's incredibly depressing! Norm Macdonald gave us so many incredible, uniquely funny moments, including his opening monologue at the 1998 ESPY Awards where he roasted a bunch of professional athletes who were not prepared.

Within 80 seconds Ken Griffey Jr. became the first athlete to show up on camera, clearly uncomfortable. It's understandable looking back and hearing the problematic material, but no one in the audience had showed up expecting a roast. It was the first and last time something like this would happen on ESPN.

It took more than a decade for producers to even try and let a comedian host again. One thing is for certain, we'll never see anything like this at the ESPYs again. Just like we'll never see anything like Norm.

UPDATE: Here's what Norm told me about the crowd reaction to his monologue in 2011 when I asked him about hosting the ESPYs:

Norm Macdonald: I’d love to host the ESPYs. When I did the ESPYs, what was interesting was, you know the athletes were here and they comprised a small amount of the audience. And behind them was the crowd, the New Yorkers you know. When I was doing it, the crowd loved me and I had no idea the athletes f-cking hated my guts. Then I see it on TV and I do a joke and the cut a scowling guy. I was like “Oh God, I like that guy and now he hates me. But all my heroes… But Tiger laughed! It was a pro-Tiger joke, but Tiger laughed. He’s my hero. I love Tiger.

You can read the full interview here.

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