Veteran NFL reporter Ed Werder was among the many layoffs at ESPN last week, catching the sports media world by surprise.
While Werder’s layoff was reportedly effective immediately, Werder said on the Dallas Cowboys-centric podcast “The Doomsday Podcast” that ESPN asked him cover the NFL Draft after informing him he was being laid off.
Werder said on the podcast that while he was not overly concerned about being laid off prior to finding out, he did know it was possibility.
He said realised he was being laid off when he was told to call his boss, then went to his office and saw a human resources employee there, too. However, perhaps one of the odder details of the meeting was that ESPN then asked him to cover the New Orleans Saints in the draft the next day.
“And so when they finished telling me I was laid off, they said this was effective immediately,” Werder said. “And the next thing they told me to do as a former employee of ESPN was stay and cover the Saints’ draft, which seemed like an odd way to begin your unemployment.
“But it seemed like it was my option, and I chose not to. I just didn’t feel like it was the right place for me to be, alone in a hotel room and then out in public as a former employee, representing ESPN with the New Orleans Saints.”
Werder said he now feels like a restricted free agent, even adding “RFA” to his Twitter handle. He said ESPN is honouring the contracts of the employees it laid off, but will not continue to pay them if they get a job elsewhere.
“Apparently if I want to continue being paid by ESPN for the duration of my contract, they will not allow me to work in television or other media without risking all that they owe me.” Werder said he did have permission to do the podcast.
Werder also questioned the direction of ESPN, wondering how they would continue to cover the NFL with the layoffs.
“It’s not the quality of your work that’s a factor,” Werder said. “Well, it causes me to wonder, what is ESPN about? Because I thought it was about news and information and highlights, and I’m not sure that is the point of emphasis anymore. How is ESPN going to cover the NFL without all of the people who lost their jobs?”
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