Some big news dropped yesterday when USA Today reported that SportsCenter anchor, Friday Night Fights host, and ESPN Radio host Brian Kenny is leaving ESPN next month. BK’s last SportsCenter will take place sometime in early September. Kenny has been one of ESPN’s longest serving on-air personalities with thirteen years put in at Bristol, but will now move on. Here’s the details:
Anchor Brian Kenny is leaving ESPN and becoming a TV free agent.
Kenny will host his final SportsCenter in early September, confirmed ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys. “Brian did great work for us. His contract was up and he found a new opportunity,” Soltys said Monday night.
Kenny currently hosts his own national show on ESPN Radio from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday. He’s also host of ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights.
Curiously, this makes it sound like Brian Kenny is already moving on to a different network and has a new deal locked up. Mike McCarthy of USA Today contends that Kenny could be moving to MLB Network where he would be reunited with former ESPNers like Peter Gammons and Harold Reynolds. BK is most known for his work with boxing and baseball, so a move to MLB Network makes sense. He would immediately become their highest profile studio host and lift their already acclaimed coverage. I wonder though if the Soon To Be NBC Sports Network will strike with Kenny. Remember, there was a brief snippet in a news report a while back that Versus NBC Sports Network was planning a daily 6 pm rundown show for the channel. What better way to launch such a show than with the guy that anchored the 6 pm edition of SportsCenter? That would be an immediate throw down the gauntlet at the leader, but perhaps it’s just wishful thinking.
As for Kenny himself, at first, he was one of my least liked ESPN personalities. Something about the cut of his gib didn’t sit well with me, perhaps it was his willingness to speak his mind as an anchor. But after a while, Kenny did something I thought was impossible – made me a regular watcher of ESPNEWS. His work on the Hot List years ago was outstanding and BK quickly became one of my favorite ESPN personalities. Kenny was just as comfortable talking to Teddy Atlas as he was Beano Cook or Tommy Smyth. He then became one of SportsCenter’s best anchors (for my money his pairing with Jay Harris is ESPN’s #1 anchor duo), has shown his versatility with a solid radio show (he and Van Pelt are the top of the ESPN Radio national hosts), and has carried Friday Night Fights for years. Of course, his interviews with Floyd Mayweather are the stuff of legend, too. Slowly but surely, Brian Kenny became one of the core members of ESPN’s on-air stable. ESPN will certainly miss him, and it will be very interesting to see where he lands amongst the competition.