There was much to see Wednesday night: a masterful hosting performance by actor-rapper Drake, a moving speech by “SportsCenter” personality Stuart Scott and droves of the best athletes and moments from the year in sports. But there were also plenty of things one couldn’t have seen unless without red carpet access and a seat inside the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live. Fortunately for readers, TheWrap had both.
Also read: ESPY Awards Winners: The Complete List
Here are 9 things you didn’t see on TV:
1. “Let Me Take a Selfie”
The selfie is truly the new autograph. The red carpet outside of Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live had the usual pop of cameras Wednesday afternoon — with a notable uptick of the cell phone variety, of course. That may be nothing new, but the approach by some people was slightly jarring.
Several of those privileged to stand on the red carpet for no discernible reason (OK, so some of them probably worked for ESPN public relations — but definitely not all of them) took up posts with their backs to the human traffic coming towards them, popping a quick selfie with each athlete or celebrity that was simply trying to walk by. Some asked permission, some grabbed arms, some simply snuck photos.
2. “Down in Front!”
Here’s something you didn’t see at home that those of us in attendance saw all night: the backs of heads — or in some cases, the backs of backs. After all, at the ESPYs, the celebrities are the athletes. And with some exceptions (jockeys, we’re looking at you) — top athletes are enormous.
So the ESPYs are not the awards show to try to see anything on the red carpet, or even with good seats during the broadcast — just ask whoever sat behind Kevin Durant. Stick to the Emmys or the Oscars if you like good sight lines.
3. Bar None
Keep it moving, Nokia Theatre rookies! The red carpet entrance to the theater itself spilled into the “stage right” area, while general guests entered directly in the center. Those two nearby bars immediately filled up, as many moved towards the carpet entrance to catch a glimpse of their favorite athletes. But a further bar on the “stage left” side was essentially wide open until it closed for curtain around 5:15. The find proved to be a goldmine for those coming in from the heat in need of a cold beer — er, water.
4. You’re not THAT “Fancy”
First, it should be noted that ESPYs house band, Ozomatli, was really good. Second, it should be noted that even Iggy Azalea must be sick of her hit song “Fancy” by now.
The Aussie rapper performed the smash outside at the ESPY fan experience as those inside the theater were taking their seats. Azalea’s performance started on the big-screen Nokia Theatre monitors and over the house speakers. Until only about halfway into it. Ozomatli cut Azalea off for those inside in attendance. No one at all seemed to mind one bit — like, not even a little.
5. Money made it
Publicists and other handler-types seemed quite concerned about whether Floyd “Money” Mayweather, winner for Best Fighter, would show up on time — if at all. It was hard to not hear rumbles of “He hasn’t even left the hotel?!?” on the carpet. But, despite being one of the last to arrive, Mayweather made it in time to accept his award before the show kicked-off. He was also part of a pretty funny and elaborate Drake gag later in the night, hence the concern.
6. The two jokes Drake wishes he had back
We cannot overstate how great Drake was as ESPYs host. He was sharp in the monologue, tremendous in pre-taped segments such as “Drake vs. Blake” and “Manny Pacquiao Sings.” But there were two jokes that fell really flat.
The first, a Redskins-is-racist sort of punchline in the monologue, which was actually a solid bit. The second was at the end of a pretty funny medley that the rapper/singer/actor/now-comedian performed: “#SterlingNeverLovedUs,” about embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. The “song” really didn’t have anything funny about it, it ended weirdly and abruptly, and Drake had already gotten Sterling good a few times by then during the night. It left the audience wondering if they missed something.
7. On your feet!
Actor Jeff Bridges introduced Josh Sweeney, the recipient of the first ever Pat Tillman Award for Service ESPY. Or at least he tried to: the theater crowd was up on its feet applauding way before Bridges could even get to that part.
In 2009, as a Marine Corps sergeant, Sweeney lost both of his legs to a land mine while serving in Afghanistan. This year, during the gold-medal game versus Russia at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, Sweeney scored the games only goal, handing the United States its second consecutive sled hockey championship.
See photos: ESPY Awards Red Carpet Arrivals
8. Will you marry … who?!?
This was the weirdest part of the show. Some guy who nobody knows proposed to his girlfriend on the big screen and in the aisle during a commercial break. No one in the audience was prepared for this, no one had any idea who he was or what was going on, no one seemed to care. Upon further research, the guy’s name is Vagram Shalvardzhyan and he’s a Los Angeles-based accountant. So congrats you two, but that was weird.
9. We’ve hit Rock Bottom
Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted into the National Football League, was honored Wednesday with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Following a very touching video intro, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house — but there was a jackass.
Some doofus who was doing that “I’m the loud, funny guy in the room” routine all night yelled something to the effect of “Give us the Rock Bottom!” to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson while the “Hercules” star was trying to honor Sam and the rest of us were trying to discreetly wipe our eyes. Johnson ignored it like a pro. For those who don’t know, the Rock Bottom is one of Johnson’s signature wrestling finishers — it’s a shame he didn’t try it out on the loudmouth.