Published by: Bear Acuda
ESPN is amidst a changing of the guard.
Quietly, last month, they decided not to renew the contracts of some of their core analysts, reporters, writers, and TV/Radio personalities.
Before we get into the opinions, let’s lay out the who is no longer sitting at what used to be the “cool table” for sports entertainment:
Jeff Van Gundy (commentator)
Suzy Kolber (EVERYTHING)
Neil Everett (anchor)
Jalen Rose (radio host/analyst)
Steve Young (analyst)
Gene Wojciechowski (writer/reporter/analyst)
David Pollack (analyst)
Max Kellerman (analyst)
Keyshawn Johnson (radio host/analyst)
Todd McShay (commentator)
Matt Hasselbeck (analyst)
Ashley Brewer (anchor)
LaPhonso Ellis (analyst)
Andre Ware (analyst)
Jason Fitz (radio host)
Joon Lee (writer)
Jordan Cornette (analyst)
Nick Friedell (reporter)
Doug Kezirian (analyst)
Rob Ninkovich (analyst)
Some of these names were absolute staples of ESPN of their “protection of the vanguard of sports entertainment.” Queen Suzy Kolber is one of the most recognized female on-air talents of this century. Some of her teammates on the MNF Countdown crew were also let go; those being Matt Hasselbeck & OG Steve Young.
Apparently, Young has already found work as the new girls flag football coach for his daughters’ private school Menlo School out of Atherton, California. So he should be fine.
The GODFATHER OF PRIZE-FIGHTING aka Max Kellerman & his radio partner Keyshawn Johnson also got the ax; their other partner Jay Williams is safe, for now.
Gene Wojciechowski is….sorry….was arguably the most legit journalist/on-air talent that ESPN had. His reporting for both college & professional sports makes him a hot free agent.
Todd McShay was the antithesis to NFL Analyst & perceived draft Jesus Mel Kiper Jr. He was the Joker to Kiper Jr.’s Batman, the oil to his water, the Ike to his Tina; though, the two actually fit together nicely. More like PB & J. But McShay became a HUGE part of the Fantasy Football/Draft Special team that football diehards depended upon.
Neil Everett, the king of the west coast Sportscenter & a legacy within the walls of ESPN; NBA Countdown panelist & radio host Jalen Rose, and NBA Finals broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy are also saying farewell. These were absolute huge talents for ESPN. Who are they going to rely on to fill the void? Kendrick Perkins?
Which ties in nicely to the last layoff of mention: David Pollack.
Pollack was the frat boy ESPN desperately needed within their college analyst ranks. Every year, he became more popular, becoming a fan favorite for his blunt, unapologetic predictions. He elevated himself to a position on the panel of “College Gameday.” But something happened this last year that he did not intend….
Pat McAfee came onto the set of College Gameday as if he were one of the local brothers from whatever fraternity chapter was popping in the college town they were visiting. His bro-iness completely nullified Pollack, making him look more like a tutor or a librarian than the edgy bro younger generations levitated for. ESPN saw this and decided to pull the trigger on McAfee.
Let’s be clear. All of these layoffs were attributed to two things:
#1. Lost revenue from Disney championing pop-culture wokeism.
#2. To make room for McAfee’s massive 5yr/$80M contract.
As reported yesterday by Brosef Rico, Disney is on the verge of axing ESPN all together. This is the proverbial “Hail Mary” to the revenue endzone for the managing partners of both companies. They are puffing their chests out while shoving all their chips into the center & barking “ALL IN,” all while crossing their fingers underneath the table. If this McAfee gamble is a bust (which it will be), then ESPN will look very different by 2025.
You can argue that even if ESPN/Disney were amidst financial success, they would still not be able to renew many of the contracts from their top-tier talent, and there would be some truth to that statement. But let’s be real; they’re not what they used to be and the proof is in the pudding.
And now, ESPN will be propped up by three, and only three, on-air talents:
Stephen A. Smith, Scott Van Pelt, and Pat McAfee.
“But for how long” is the question….