Sports Wars

By Wondery

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Subscribers: 1047
Reviews: 8

 Sep 13, 2019
It often seems that 90% is the Podcaster speaking thoughts of the athletes and 10% fact. This makes it entertaining fantasy and less substantive than I would like.

 Aug 24, 2019

 Aug 5, 2019
Fun and detailed. An absolute must-listen!

 Jun 24, 2019

 Jun 18, 2019
Great podcast! Super interesting deep dives into big rivalries. Nice writing and host too.


Sports rivalries can fuel fans and athletes to fight and argue for years. But what’s the real story behind these epic battles?

From Wondery, the company behind “Business Wars”, “Gladiator” and “The Lead” comes SPORTS WARS, a new series that offers an immersive look at some of the greatest athletic rivalries of all time: two superpower nations facing off in the Miracle on Ice. The battle for the starting quarterback gig in Green Bay between Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. And many more.

Host Dan Rubenstein (Sports Illustrated, SB Nation) will take you from the grudge matches to the pranks, from the tantrums to the triumphs: what really happened, who was right, who was wrong -- and you can decide whose side you’re on.

Episode Date
Introducing The Lead: Your New Daily Sports Fix

From Wondery and The Athletic, The Lead is the first daily sports podcast that will bring you one big story each day from The Athletic's all-star team of local and national sports reporters. Subscribe now to hear new episodes each weekday morning:

Sep 16, 2019
McGwire vs Sosa - Broken Records | 5

When the AP drops a bombshell story, Mark McGwire worries his season, his record chase, and his career may be over. And it’s not just his livelihood that’s at stake. Pretty soon, Sammy Sosa is facing tough questions of his own.

Sep 13, 2019
McGwire vs. Sosa — Showdown at Wrigley Corral | 4

Wrigley Field — August 19th, 1998. The Cubs are facing the Cardinals, which means Sammy Sosa is about to duke it out, at bat after at bat, with Mark McGwire. It's a metaphor for the whole season, really, each man a moonshot away from besting the other.

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Sep 11, 2019
McGwire vs Sosa — The Race Begins | 3

It's 1998, the race to 61 homers is on, and Mark McGwire is a force to be reckoned with. Then comes the All-Star break. Suddenly his bat slows down and Sammy's speeds up.

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Sep 06, 2019
McGwire vs. Sosa — Generating Power | 2

Mark McGwire doesn't leave college with a diploma: he leaves with a beautiful swing and a ticket to the show. Pretty soon, though, his personal life is in tatters and so is his game. Can bulking up he get him back on track? Meanwhile, Sammy Sosa explodes into the majors. But he also implodes. He's streaky, and that streakiness zaps his confidence. When the Cubs sign him to a huge deal, he'll have to prove, once and for all, that he's worth it.

Sep 04, 2019
McGwire vs. Sosa — Saving Baseball | 1

Blasts. Jacks. Moonshots. Grand salamis. Nothing's quite so mythical as baseball's home run. In 1998, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa reminded the nation of that as they tried to smash into the record books. They thought they were going to save baseball. Instead, they destroyed their reputations.

Aug 30, 2019
The Solid Verbal's 2019 Guide to College Football Rivalries | 1

Do you love bonus content? Thought so. Here's a special episode of Dan's other Wondery podcast, The Solid Verbal. It's is a thrice-weekly show about college football that features previews, recaps, and analysis. In this edition, Dan and his co-host Ty Hildenbrandt size up the team rivalries—some quirky, others tenacious—that you should watch out for this season.

Check out The Solid Verbal at

Aug 28, 2019
Andy Staples and Emmanuel Acho: Clashing Colleges | 4

Andy Staples was once the worst walk-on offensive lineman in Florida history; now he's an excellent writer who covers college football for The Athletic. In this episode of Sports Wars, Staples talks about some key moments in the Florida–Georgia rivalry. He also makes a bold claim: jean shorts don't cool you down. Then Dan talks with ESPN analyst Emmanuel Acho about his college career at Texas.

Aug 23, 2019
Texas vs Oklahoma - Young and Feisty | 3

Adrian Peterson and Baker Mayfield are two Texas-born football phenoms. But when they enroll at the University of Oklahoma, it touches off a recruiting war that will define the modern era of the Texas vs. Oklahoma rivalry.

Aug 21, 2019
Texas vs Oklahoma - The Outlaw | 2

A new era has dawned in the rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma—an era of such bitter hatred that even the President of the United States can't escape it. A lot of it has to do with Barry Switzer, the Sooners' head coach, whose maverick tendencies provoke the ire of the NCAA.

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Aug 16, 2019
Texas vs Oklahoma - The Red River Shootout | 1

What makes the rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma so doggone contentious? Maybe it’s that these states hate each other so much they almost went to war over a bridge. Maybe it’s the underhanded stunts coaches like Mike Leach have pulled to win. Or maybe it’s just because with great proximity comes great hostility. Over the next three episodes, we’ll dig into this unparalleled grudge match.

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Aug 14, 2019
Georgia vs Florida - Tebow Time | 3

Urban Meyer passes up his dream job and instead takes the head coach gig at Florida. Among his early recruits is Tim Tebow. They're one heck of a pair. But will it be enough to stop Mark Richt's Georgia team? This is the third and final episode of Georgia vs. Florida. Next, we'll look at another ferocious college football rivalry: Oklahoma vs. Texas.

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Aug 09, 2019
Georgia vs Florida - Head Ball Coach | 2

It's 1989 and Steve Spurrier, Florida's head coach, is desperate to settle the grudge he's been holding against Georgia for two decades. Back then he was Florida's QB, and Georgia spoiled his perfect season. Now he's out for blood—Bulldog blood.

Aug 07, 2019
Georgia vs Florida - The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party | 1

For the next six episodes, we're focusing on two of the greatest rivalries in college football: Georgia vs. Florida and Texas vs. Oklahoma. We begin with Georgia vs. Florida, a long-simmering, start-studded, completely unruly matchup. These schools have hated each other for a century. Here's why.

Aug 02, 2019
Howard Beck Remembers His Time With Kobe and Shaq | 7

As a reporter for the LA Daily News, Howard Beck covered the Kobe–Shaq saga as it happened. In this episode of Sports Wars, he offers his take on the rivalry, explains how the pair changed basketball, and recounts the time Shaq called to say his Laker days were over.

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Jul 26, 2019
Kobe vs Shaq - The Storm Before the Calm | 6

It’s all over. Or is it? Kobe and Shaq no longer play for the same team, and their relationship seems like it’s slowly evolving from rivalry to brotherhood. Still, Shaq can’t resist making digs at Kobe’s expense, and Kobe won’t stop until he’s got more rings than the big man.

Jul 24, 2019
Kobe vs Shaq - It All Comes Apart | 5

As the Lakers head into the 2003–2004 season, the team's two stars face their most significant challenges yet. On the court, Shaq’s dominance has started to fade. And off the court, serious allegations have marred Kobe’s once squeaky-clean image. With their personal and professional futures in limbo, the end of the rivalry may be drawing near.

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Jul 19, 2019
Kobe vs Shaq - Stay Hungry or Lose | 4

They may be reigning champs, but things aren’t looking great for the Lakers as the 2000–2001 season gets underway. After a dispiriting loss, Kobe acknowledges he’s a ball hog. Shaq can’t make a free throw to save his life. And their ongoing feud spills into the press. So much for burying the hatchet.

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Jul 17, 2019
Kobe vs Shaq - Who's the Boss | 3

It’s 1999 and Phil Jackson—the tai chi–practicing, sage-burning zen master—is now the Lakers’ head coach. He’s got his eye on a championship, but he knows the only way to get there is to teach Shaq some discipline and snap Kobe’s selfish streak. Easier said than done.

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Jul 12, 2019
Kobe vs Shaq - Powered by Fury | 2

Kobe and Shaq are young, famous, handsomely paid, and diametrically opposed. Shaq, with his lifelong craving for adoration, tries to win over his teammates and position himself as the Lakers' top dog. As for Kobe, he couldn’t care less about camaraderie.

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Jul 10, 2019
Kobe vs Shaq - It’s Showtime | 1

It’s 1996, and the Los Angeles Lakers are priming for greatness. First they sign the gargantuan, indomitable Shaquille O’Neal. Then they bring on a 17-year-old with epic potential: Kobe Bryant. What a coup, right? There’s only one problem. Shaq and Kobe can’t stand each other. (This is the first episode in a six-part series.)

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Jul 05, 2019
David Aldridge Charts the Evolution of NBA Rivalries | 6

For three decades, David Aldridge has covered the NBA for outlets like The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Athletic. On this episode of Sports Wars, he digs into the league’s long history of mighty matchups and argues it’s often the rivalries that make basketball great.

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Jun 26, 2019
Sam Smith Breaks Down “The Jordan Rules” | 5

Veteran reporter Sam Smith followed the Chicago Bulls for their 1990–91 season and turned that experience into a bestselling book, “The Jordan Rules.” It’s a searing, unmatched portrait of Michael Jordan’s path to glory. On this episode of Sports Wars, Smith explains why the Jordan–Isiah feud is probably the most ferocious in history, and he sets the record straight on why Jordan left the NBA to play baseball (hint: it didn’t have anything to do with the mob).

Jun 21, 2019
Jordan vs Isiah - Greatness | 4

1991. At long last, Michael Jordan beats Isiah Thomas, ends the Bad Boys era, and ushers in a Bulls dynasty. Jordan has the edge over his longtime rival, but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten the Freeze Out or the “Jordan Rules.” He’s still out for revenge. When he’s asked to join the Dream Team, Jordan sees the perfect opportunity.

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Jun 19, 2019
Jordan vs Isiah - The Triangle | 3

Michael Jordan is unstoppable—except when it comes to Isiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons. When the Bad Boys cruise to back-to-back championships in ’89 and ’90, Jordan’s frustration reaches an all-time high. He’s willing to take whatever help he can get, even if it comes from the weirdo who’s now coaching the Bulls, Phil Jackson.

Jun 14, 2019
Jordan vs Isiah - The Bad Boys | 2

By 1987, Michael Jordan has established himself as the NBA’s most exciting player—not to mention the league’s top scorer. But it’s Isiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons who dominate the Eastern Conference, and their tough play earns them a new nickname, the Bad Boys. When Jordan threatens the Pistons’ reign, Isiah and his teammates must find a way to stop Jordan in his tracks. Their plan? The “Jordan Rules.”

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Jun 12, 2019
Jordan vs Isiah - The Freeze Out | 1

It’s 1985. Michael Jordan is a flashy Chicago Bulls rookie, and Isiah Thomas is an established star for the Detroit Pistons. When they’re thrust together at the NBA All-Star Game, it’s not exactly love at first sight. Jordan feels slighted by Isiah, and Isiah can’t stand Jordan’s swagger. A brutal rivalry starts in a weekend and lasts for over a decade.

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Jun 07, 2019
One on One: Why Tennis Rivalries Are So Uniquely Compelling | 7

“Strokes of Genius” author Jon Wertheim discusses what makes tennis rivalries different than any other sport, why Federer v Nadal was so compelling, and other great match ups in tennis history.

May 31, 2019
Introducing Inside Star Wars

Heroes, villains, action... all set in a galaxy far, far away. Join Inside Star Wars and go behind the camera and find out how one of the most iconic series in film history came to be. Listen now at:

May 30, 2019
Federer vs Nadal - Suffering and Perfection | 6

After four straight head-to-head wins, the era-defining rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal is trending strongly toward Nadal. But Federer is already looking to reverse his fortunes at the next major -- the 2009 Australian Open -- a hard court tournament that could possibly yield his record-tying 14th Grand Slam title. As for Rafa, he’s still looking to prove he can beat Federer anywhere, anytime, and on any surface.  

For more than decade, these tennis titans have battled each other for the number 1 seat -- but which is the greatest men’s tennis player of all time?

May 29, 2019
Strokes of Genius: Jon Wertheim | 5

Jon Wertheim -- best-selling author of Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal, and the Greatest Match Ever Played -- joins Sports Wars to discuss tennis’ greatest modern rivalry between two of the best the game has ever seen and what it’s been like to have a front-row seat to some of their most prolific matches.

May 24, 2019
Federer vs Nadal - The Greatest Match Ever Played | 4

Roger Federer enters the 2008 Wimbledon Grand Slam as a five-time defending champion. The tabloids mark him as finished -- mostly because of his poor performance in the year’s first two grand slams. Rafael Nadal is coming off a dominant French Open title and the bad taste of last year’s loss at Wimbledon. It is the perfect storm to create what is widely considered the greatest tennis match in history.

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May 22, 2019
Federer vs Nadal - Grass and Clay | 3

Rafael Nadal continues to add French Open titles, but winning on the grass courts of Wimbledon proves elusive because of one person: Roger Federer. The Swiss Champion holds as much dominance on grass as Nadal has on clay. So when the 2007 Wimbledon Final goes to Federer in a closely-won match over Nadal, the Spaniard believes he’s lost his best opportunity to beat his nemesis.

May 17, 2019
Federer vs Nadal - The Raging Bull | 2

At age 19 Nadal dominates on clay and shoots up the world rankings. Now he’s looking to prove his win in Miami over Federer was no fluke. Meanwhile, Federer tries to capture the career grand slam, but to get it, he’ll need to beat Nadal on his best surface at the French Open.

May 15, 2019
Federer vs Nadal - The Hothead | 1

In this series we explore the unique tennis rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal-- two very different players, both exceptional, in pursuit of perfection. Swiss-born Roger Federer was seemingly born with a racquet in his hand and at a young age he quickly masters the game, but what he needs to reach the top is to learn how to master his emotions. Meanwhile, Spaniard Rafael Nadal learns the game under the tutelage of his uncle Toni on the clay courts of Mallorca, where the decision to make him a left-handed player separates him early from his competition.  

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May 10, 2019
Jeff Pearlman: Author of “Gunslinger” | 7

Jeff Pearlman-- the best selling author of Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre-- joins Sports Wars to discuss the rivalry between Favre and Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. They began as competitors on the same team, but ended up battling for division titles and respect when Favre came out of retirement with the Vikings. As Rodgers heads toward the second half of his career, some think he’s become the new Favre in Green Bay.

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May 03, 2019
Favre vs Rodgers - One Last Chance | 6

As the new quarterback of the rival Minnesota Vikings, Brett Favre wants revenge against the Packers. He won’t retire until he gets his chance to beat Rodgers and Green Bay in 2009. Meanwhile, Rodgers tries to show the Packers he’s ready to be the new face of the franchise.

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May 01, 2019
Favre vs. Rodgers - Hero To Villain | 5

Brett Favre comes out of retirement again, but this time Green Bay is moving on to the Aaron Rodgers era. The Packers trade Favre to the Jets, turning their legendary QB into a new rival.

Apr 26, 2019
Favre vs. Rodgers - Packer For Life? | 4

Aaron Rodgers starts his career as the backup QB in Green Bay as Brett Favre ponders retirement. When Favre leads the Packers to their best season in years, the legendary quarterback decides he may not be ready to turn the team over to Rodgers after all.

Apr 24, 2019
Favre vs. Rodgers - On a Crash Course | 3

Brett Favre takes Titletown to the Super Bowl for the first time in 29 years. Aaron Rodgers tries to prove he's good enough to play college football and be chosen by his favorite team - the 49ers.

Apr 19, 2019
Favre vs. Rodgers - The Savior from Mississippi | 2

In 1991, the Atlanta Falcons tire of the antics of their rookie quarterback, Brett Favre. They decide to trade him to Green Bay where he soon takes over as the starting quarterback. He begins a streak of consecutive starts that will turn him into a legend. Along the way, he battles his competition, his coaches and his demons. As he is pursuing his first Super Bowl, a kid in California named Aaron Rodgers is watching at home and dreaming of an NFL football career that will one day collide with Favre's in Green Bay.

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Apr 17, 2019
Favre vs. Rodgers - Good Morning, Grandpa | 1

It's 2005 and The Green Bay Packers are on the clock in this year's NFL Draft. The last thing most Packers fans think the team needs in the draft is a new quarterback. Their team already has Hall of Famer, Brett Favre, who is in the middle of his record-breaking Iron Man streak for consecutive games started. But when Aaron Rodgers slips in the draft, the new Packers GM makes a risky call, and sets up a bitter rivalry between two quarterbacks with very different styles.

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Apr 17, 2019
Introducing Sports Wars

Brett Favre vs. Aaron Rodgers. Michael Jordan vs. Isiah Thomas. And many more...

Sports Wars premieres on April 17th. Subscribe now!

Apr 05, 2019