Not everyone loves Michelle Beadle, and frankly, she’s ok with that.
The host of ESPN’s SportsNation is not at all shy about sharing her opinions on a wide range of topics, particularly on Twitter, and those who disagree with her can be equally blunt in their responses.
That’s ok, Beadle says. No matter the slings and arrows of outrageous comments sent her way, at the end of the day, there’s always Leeroy the Pug, Violet the Bloodhound mix, and Hank the Pointer–Dalmatian there to greet her.
Beadle’s three adopted dogs could not care less what she’s said or what was said back. They just want to show her the love.
“As soon as I open up that garage door, I can hear them,” Beadle said. “And I could have been gone five minutes or five hours or five days, and the reaction is always the same, and it doesn’t matter how bad the day was or how mean someone might have gotten, I know when I get home, it makes my entire day better.
“I’ve had some pretty gross days when all I wanted to do is just cry, and I see their faces, and they’re staring at you, and it’s like, ‘Ah, whatever, it will work itself out. I’ve got these three.’”
Even Beadle’s biggest detractors would probably agree about that. And now, Beadle is hoping to channel her notoriety toward the cause of spreading puppy love across the nation.
Best Friends Animal Society introduced Beadle as its celebrity spokesperson on Monday, hoping to raise awareness and funds toward the causes of finding adoptable homes for shelter dogs and supporting no-kill shelters across the country.
“I want to help them, no matter what it is they want me to do,” Beadle said in an interview with Dogster. “For lack of specificity, I’ll do anything. I know they have a couple of big adoption events out here in Los Angeles every year, and they always need people to help out. I told them, anything you need, call me, I’ll be there, I will lend my name, spread the word, raise money, what have you.
“I can’t tell people enough, whatever kind of dog you want, whatever purebred you’ve always imagined, they are out there and they are up for adoption. I want that word to get out. Go adopt them.”
Beadle’s high profile on Twitter—her handle is @MichelleDBeadle—provides her with the platform to make a difference in the lives of shelter dogs.
“It’s a great thing that social media has really contributed,” Beadle said. “It’s been a very entertaining ride so far, but as far as the value that comes from it, to me, being able to spread the word about dogs that need adopting… you can tweet it from Los Angeles that a dog might be in Virginia, and you never know who is going to read your tweet and it might work out.
“[Former ESPN colleague] Keith Olbermann probably comes off as curmudgeonly and stodgy, but he is a dog lover, and he will just randomly tweet out about dogs who need adopting, and I always re-tweet it because you just never know who is reading and looking and who wants to adopt or donate money. I think that’s the most powerful thing I have, as far as a voice goes, because I can reach so many people with the click of one button.”
That ability sometimes brings controversy. In 2014, when her (now former) favorite NFL team, the New York Jets, signed dogfighting villain Michael Vick to a contract, Beadle took to Twitter to denounce the team and those who defended Vick.
Looks like mama is on the market for a new football team….
— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) March 21, 2014
Oh. And any mention of ‘getting over dogfighting’ is an automatic block. You do you, chickadees. #happyfriday
— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) March 21, 2014
“It was one of those things where on my first stint with ESPN, we had Michael Vick on the show twice,” Beadle said. “I’m not going to be taken off my own show, that would be stupid, but I’m not also going to engage [him]. I did two hours of television, and I never addressed him, I never looked at him. ‘I don’t have anything to say to you.’ Months later, we ran into each other at a UFC fight and he asked me about that and I was like, ‘I like dogs better than I like people, and what you did, that’s forever for me.’
“So when the Jets signed him … there are a lot of special, gifted human beings out there, and you can be all about second chances, and that’s your prerogative, but there are certain things that I’m just not going to get past, and that’s one of them. I don’t care how good somebody is at something, I can’t overlook it. It wasn’t a big deal. I mean, look, the Jets are lousy. Maybe someday I’ll regret it.”
Beadle’s unconditional love of dogs was fostered as a child. She remembers seeing a Pug for sale at a mall pet store and crying uncontrollably when her parents wouldn’t let her adopt him.
Years later, she adopted Leeroy.
“Even when we didn’t have dogs as a child, I always loved them probably more than a normal human being is supposed to,” Beadle said. “I’ve always loved animals more than people, honestly, at this point. We’re sort of a family of dogs, and as adults, we’ve all stuck with it. You’re responsible for them, and it’s just such a pleasure.
“I can’t stress it enough to people … I’m not saying that everyone is meant to have a dog. It’s definitely a lot of work—I always get into it with people who get a dog and realize it’s too expensive or a lot of work, and that’s why we have situations that we do in all the shelters—but there’s nothing like it. I don’t have children, but even children talk back and that’s not always pleasant. The worst these guys might do is act up in the house, and I can deal with that.”
Beadle’s television resume is more than just ESPN. For a time, she hosted a sports show on NBC Sports Network and also hosted Access Hollywood. She has also done work for Animal Planet.
Hello, fine folks at AP’s Puppy Bowl, do you need an anchor, by chance?
“That’s one of those things where if they called the day before or the day of—‘Can you come in and put the water bowls out?’—I’ve never been in a room with 15 puppies running around, and I’m not a religious person, but I imagine if I did have a heaven, for me it would be that.
“[Watching it] is about the happiest I think I’ve ever been. I would do anything. What a gig. We had the ref on [SportsNation] once, and I don’t get jealous of other people’s gigs very often, but his, yeah.”
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About the author: Jeff Goldberg is a freelance writer in Quincy, Mass. A former editor for MLB.com and sportswriter for the Hartford Courant who covered the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team (Huskies!) and the Boston Red Sox, Jeff has authored two books on the UConn women: Bird at the Buzzer (2011) and Unrivaled (2015). He lives with his wife, Susan, and their rescue pup, Rocky, an Italian Greyhuahua/Jack Russell mix from a foster home in Tennessee, hence the name Rocky (as in Rocky Top).