In the past 15 years, Keith Olbermann has worked for- and had acrimonious departures from- ESPN, MSNBC, Fox Sports, MSNBC again, and Current TV. Now unemployed, the broadcaster is reportedly angling for a return to Bristol.
According to a New York Times piece published Sunday by James Andrew Miller, “Olbermann and his representatives have expressed interest” in a return to ESPN, where Olbermann hosted the signature SportsCenter broadcast with Dan Patrick before leaving in 1997. The host even shared a recent dinner with network president John Skipper, who told the Times that while he enjoyed the dinner, an Olbermann comeback on ESPN is “not imminent.”
Patrick is himself no longer with ESPN, although the two have appeared together on Patrick’s radio show and were both featured for a time on NBC’s Football Night in America pregame show.
Olbermann reached new levels of popularity as an openly liberal TV host on MSNBC during the Bush years although, as with most previous stops in his career, he feuded loudly and publicly with his bosses at that network, eventually departing in January of 2011. His comeback show with Al Gore’s since-sold Current TV began the following June but lasted less than a year.
ESPN and Olbermann’s adversarial relationship has continued in the years since he left, with the anchor and executives trashing one another in various books and interviews. One of those books, the 2011 bestselling oral history “Those Guys Have All the Fun,” was co-written by James Andrew Miller, author of the Times piece Sunday.
Olbermann has never returned for any reunion specials or retrospectives on the network, although he was included in a recent “30 For 30″ short film about an early-20th century baseball card.
Will we ever see Keith Olbermann on ESPN again? There have been stranger reconciliations in sports before, but I’ll believe it when I see it. In the meantime, I highly recommend reading the expansive Wikipedia entry on “Criticism of ESPN.”