I wrote an open letter to ESPN’s Keith Olbermann back in February. My message was clear: Please don’t screw this up.
At the time of my letter Olbermann was in the middle of four-day suspension for a Twitter outburst directed at Penn State students. I stated that I was afraid another lapse in judgment could result in a permanent vacation. The sports world simply cannot afford for you to take a permanent vacation. Yet, history suggests that it’s only a matter of time.
Well, roughly six months later we learned that Olbermann’s second tenure at ESPN is a wrap and his final show aired on Friday. We don’t know why and we’ll probably never know the truth. It’s been speculated that ESPN execs wanted Olbermann to stop with the commentary, but that would be like asking ESPN to stop with the football. Leaving the “World Wide Leader” is absolutely the right move if he was truly asked to stop offering his take on hot-button issues.
I suggested in my open letter that the sports world needs Olbermann, while the political world didn’t appreciate him.
Your half-hour daily show is easily the best thing on the ESPN family of networks for passionate, educated sports fans. It’s refreshing to hear poignant commentary from a sports savant without having to sit through a group of talking heads essentially screaming over each other. Your takes are polarizing, controversial and must-see television for any true fan of sports media.
I went on to say:
Keith, please don’t do anything else to give ESPN executives a reason to take you away from us. The sports world simply can’t afford it. Please, on behalf of educated sports fans, both liberal and conservative, try to stay on your best behavior. At least for a few more years.
Olbermann didn’t screw anything up. He was actually on his best behavior. His exit even appears to be uncharacteristically cordial. Crazy, right? If anyone screwed up, it was the higher-ups at ESPN for expecting Olbermann to stop calling out the people who needed to be called out. Maybe Olbermann listened to me. Maybe he simply learned his lesson over time. Regardless, the sports world suffered a big loss on Friday.
While we attempt to figure out KO’s next move, check out highlights from his two-year stint hosting Olbermann on ESPN2 and his final commentary:
Olbermann had lunch with Charley Steiner and Bob Ley on his final day at ESPN and some of his famous buddies say goodbye:
The views of this article are solely the views of the author and not Adweek or TVNewser.