Believe it or not, Keith Olbermann is actually really damn good at sports commentary. Seriously. I dare you. Just listen to this commentary on soccer. I am not an Olbermann fan, but he is good when he stays in his box.
But that is Olbermann’s problem. Olbermann has grown so big that no one can tell him to stay in his box. As my buddy Caleb noted today, Olbermann is “formerly of ESPN, Fox Sports, MSNBC, Current TV, and his Twitter feed.” MSNBC? Current TV? Olbermann is a great sports commentator. But his partisanship has driven all of us on the right away from him.
Now, let me get to my point. Olbermann is by all accounts a difficult person to work with. I remember during a Sports Center anniversary everyone was invited back except Olbermann. The person interviewed said Olbermann coming back would undo all the hard psychological work ESPN had done to fix the damage he’d left behind. But they brought him back anyway.
And now he is gone. Why? Not because he is a jerk, though he is. He is gone because he was too hard on the NFL. ESPN is an entertainment network that has big deals with the NFL. But ESPN likes to pretend it is also a news network. Unfortunately for Bill Simmons and Keith Olbermann, that means they can play news analyst and commentator as long as they don’t hurt the entertainment brand.
Because both dared to hold NFL managers accountable, both are tossed. It’s actually a pretty crummy reason to toss Olbermann. Again, we aren’t exactly fans of each other. But he spoke plainly and bluntly about the NFL and, though they’re publicly denying it, behind the scenes multiple people have made clear that has a great deal to do with Olbermann’s ouster. That’s a shame.
He is, whether we on the right like him or not, very good at sports commentary. Now we also know, Keith Olbermann was too honest for ESPN.