Why Olbermann would have trouble returning to major sports broadcasting networks

Laura Donovan Contributor
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In the aftermath of Keith Olbermann’s abrupt departure from MSNBC, some are speculating on whether he’ll end up at another network or return to sports broadcasting.

But Olbermann fans shouldn’t hold their breath, at least if they hope he’ll go back to work for former employer ESPN, SportsGrid reported Saturday. It’s likely that Olbermann has also exhausted his options with Fox as an employment option, having ended his tenure at Fox Sports Net with News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch firing him and calling him “crazy.”

Jim Miller, author of a book on the ins and outs of ESPN, tweeted Saturday that ESPN insiders said Olbermann “would not be returning to the network.”

Olbermann, who anchored at ESPN from 1992 to 1997 and co-hosted a radio show in 2005, instigated trouble while employed there. In 1997, he was suspended for two weeks after making an unauthorized appearance on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” During the appearance, Olbermann made negative comments about Bristol, Connecticut, ESPN’s headquarters. Olbermann said Bristol was a “godforsaken place.”

While delivering Cornell University’s 1998 commencement address, Olbermann told graduates that his ESPN position gave him “dry heaves” and would “make [him] ashamed, make [him] depressed, make [him] cry.”

In 2002, Olbermann wrote in a column that he was shocked and sorry to learn that he’d previously brought fellow anchor Suzy Kolber to tears while at ESPN.

“I now read with horror of my ESPN2 co-host, Ms. Kolber, sequestering herself in the women’s bathroom and weeping over how I treated her,” Olbermann wrote.

After ESPN, Olbermann had a three-year stint with Fox Sports Net, but was fired by Murdoch, who called him crazy.

“I fired him five years ago…He was crazy,” Murdoch said.

In 2004, Olbermann implied that Fox Sports Net was the poor man’s version of ESPN, according to a Cornell Sun report.

“Fox Sports was an infant trying to stand [in comparison to ESPN],” Olbermann said. “But on the broadcast side there was no comparison — ESPN was the bush leagues.”

During a 2007 appearance on the “Late Show,” host David Letterman asked Olbermann, “What is it about you? You seem to burn bridges wherever you leave.”

Olbermann said of his relationship with ESPN, “I don’t burn bridges, I burn rivers. If you burn a bridge, you can possibly build a new bridge, but if there’s no river any more, that’s a lot of trouble. I just try to run the place.”

In that same interview, Olbermann added that he was banned from ESPN’s main campus in Bristol.