One of the juiciest quotes of the story comes from former ESPN Chairman Herb Granath, who said: “I was enraged by Olbermann. Guys like that just piss me off, you know, because there’s no loyalty. It’s just me, me, me. There was no choice but to get rid of him.”
Here’s Olbermann’s response:
Now, Herb Granath was the Chairman of ESPN for 16 years (including all of Olbermann’s time there) so its highly unlikely that Olbermann didn’t know who he was. He may not have spoken to him directly, or even heard orders passed down from on high, but Olbermann had to be aware of his existence and that guy was essentially his boss.
Granath would certainly know who he was and his opinion can’t be dismissed simply because he never gave it to Keith directly. Granath became chairman when ABC bought ESPN in 1984 and won a Sports Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 2001.
Later in the piece, another ESPN exec says that in 1997 he came to the conclusion that “we would be better off without Keith” and decided not to renew his contract. Olbermann has his own version of events.
This is a bit of nit picking (“You can’t fire me; I quit!”) but they are essentially saying the same thing. He didn’t want to be there any more and they didn’t want him, so they went their separate ways.
Other than that, Keith says the piece is essentially true. He took great delight in undermining the network’s efforts to keep its superstars in check, and in the process, caused a lot of headaches for his co-workers and bosses.
He also turned SportsCenter into a mega-franchise that has anchored the network (and also weighed it down with catchphrases) to this day.