Keith Olbermann To Return To ESPN

NY Times – ESPN is expected to announce on Wednesday that the former network mainstay Keith Olbermann, who contentiously departed in 1997, will return to host a one-hour, nightly show for ESPN2 later this year, according to three executives with knowledge of the deal but not authorized to speak about it publicly. Olbermann, 54, became renowned for co-anchoring ESPN’s “SportsCenter” with Dan Patrick — arguably the most auspicious pairing in the history of the show or the network. On his new show, Olbermann will be free to discuss matters other than sports, including pop culture and current events, but not politics, the two-year pact specifies. While some ESPN insiders reportedly voiced the opinion that Olbermann was part of the network’s past, not its future, his star quality is almost unmatched in the sports television arena; he seems to draw a crowd. Rumors had been bubbling for weeks that ESPN would put aside the difficulties of the past and invite Olbermann back. Some of Olbermann’s years since leaving ESPN have been professionally stormy, but controversy has always been part of his public persona. While some of his other network tenures had rocky periods, and some ended badly, his sports knowledge and on-air charisma have never been questioned. ESPN executives said Olbermann will help it face the challenge presented by the launch of Fox Sports 1, a rival all-sports network that just announced plans for a potentially similar series to star Regis Philbin, 82.

Say what you want about Keith Olbermann’s career at MSNBC. God knows he didn’t make many friends in his tenure there. But plain and simple he’s one of the greatest personalities ESPN and Sportscenter has ever seen. He and Dan Patrick were the greatest highlights tag team the network ever saw. They perfected the funny, catch phrase, stand-up-routine-during-the-highlights that defined Sportscenter. Fuck they practically invented it.

You know if ESPN was willing to swallow their pride and bring back Olbermann that they are seriously feeling the heat from Fox Sports 1. And its a smart, big time move. Fox Sports 1 nabbed a couple names like Gus Johnson and Raftry for their launch. But for the most part they’ve just been scooping up big time smokes for their new 24/7 sports premiere. Which is definitely a good idea, don’t get me wrong. But at the end of the day that’s no going to persuade me to change channels. Like I have absolutely never tuned into Fox College Football specifically for Erin Andrews. But I will absolutely make sure I tune into a new Keith Olbermann show on ESPN. That show has the chance to be big time entertainment. Smokes are never a bad play, but I think bringing back a very talented old school favorite to basically have a Barstool-esque sort of TV show is a huge counter move by The Worldwide Leaders.