NBC Sports host Dan Patrick is one of the few notable people who have had a lengthy, successful run outside ESPN that could match their run inside Bristol. While Patrick became a household name working SportsCenter with Keith Olbermann, he’s continued to have success at NBC by hosting for Football Night in America and the Olympics and with his NBCSN radio show.

But Patrick has never been shy about opening up about ESPN ever since leaving. And this week Patrick spoke about a number of topics in a lengthy interview with Complex. The comments that stood out the most were on the situation with ESPN, Donald Trump, and Jemele Hill. Patrick said that he appreciated and loved Hill and her voice, but remarked that she was fortunate to keep her job for her comments on Twitter.

What Jemele said about the president is wrong from the standpoint of her representing ESPN. If you’re on your own, you can tweet, text, get an airplane and fly a banner…But when you’re inside of ESPN, you’re representing ESPN. As much as I love Jemele and the fact that she has a voice and uses the voice, you also have to understand there can be repercussions and ramifications with using that voice if it’s not used in the context that your employer wants you to use it. I think that’s what happened. She’s lucky and fortunate that she kept her job.

We should all have a voice, but freedom of speech doesn’t mean that there’s freedom of somebody firing you. And that’s where I think she learned a valuable lesson. All of us do with twitter. It’s dangerous It really is. When you hit send, who knows who’s getting it, how they consume it, and what the reaction is going to be?

Patrick’s comments about representing ESPN probably strike at the heart of what ESPN is trying to do by (again) updating their social media policies. Time will tell if A) ESPN can keep any kind of consistency with its employees and social media and B) whether or not it will actually make any difference whatsoever.

Patrick doesn’t have a personal Twitter account unlike many prominent personalties in sports media, and perhaps that’s a reason why. Patrick also went on to say that it’d be helpful to have a copy editor on Twitter and that “you’d probably have 50 percent less tweets if that were the case.” With the polarization on the platform and how quickly things go awry, maybe it’s the best strategy just to stay away. One does wonder if Hill’s comments were made on television or in a column how the story would evolve differently versus it being said on Twitter. Even for someone who isn’t on Twitter, at least Patrick knows the first rule of Twitter.

Patrick also had some interesting about sports and politics that provide the perspective that they have never truly been completely separated from one another. Yes, #sticktosports is a mythical quest to compartmentalize our lives that is just not possible. But with the actions of President Trump and the current climate in which we live, sports and politics are coming closer together and not further apart.

Well, they’re there together. The president has made sure that they’re together. He called out the NFL, called out the players, called out the owners, the anthems. So it’s there. But down through the years, I mean, look at George Bush Sr. He played baseball at Yale; John Kennedy loved backyard football; President Ford was an offensive lineman at Michigan; Richard Nixon was calling a play for the Texas Longhorns. He gave them the national championship. There’s so much that goes on with politicians, politics, and sports. And even more so now. The confluence is here, and we’re not getting further from it. We’re getting closer to it.

Now that President Trump is personally taking credit for getting the UCLA basketball players back to the states after shoplifting charges and demanding a show of gratitude, the mix of politics and sports is going to continue. And if Trump and LaVar Ball actually do cross paths, it might just cause our entire ecosystem to explode.


About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.

  • Jon

    You can’t do anything about politicians inserting themselves into the sports discussion — if they’re going to politicize sports, people covering sports have to report on it.

    The bigger problem is sport show hosts on TV and radio who appear openly bored in actually discussing sports unless they can find some sort of political angle to the story. The ones who hate talking about last night’s or this coming weekend’s games and would rather talk about the stuff that goes on around those games are the ones (both on the left and right) who get themselves and their networks into trouble, and the ability to create trouble 24/7/365 via Twitter just adds to the problem.

  • WminPhoenix

    I don’t watch the Disney Sports Network, aka ESPN, since they went all Tebow all the time during Tebowmania. Nothing against Tebow but he was just another college football player gone bust. One of many.
    Jemele Hill should have been fired just like Curt Schilling.
    Dan Patrick is one of the few sportscasters I listen to. He plays it straight and no dam politics.

    • Shawn Diiorio

      He keeps his head in the sand because that where his only fans are.

      • WminPhoenix

        Interesting comment about a person who is on over 300 radio station station and does a pre game NFL show for NBC and won an Emmy
        But if you still think his fans are in the sand that’s your perogative.

    • Dee Snutz

      Remember Johnny Manzielmania?

      • WminPhoenix

        Trying to forget that loser!

    • JapaneseRamenNoodle

      Of course, people cheered for Tebow because he was a good guy — someone who was highly moral, visits sick children, grants wishes to dying people, builds hospitals in third world countries, visits prisoners, provides school supplies to low-income families, etc. While Tebow’s prospects on the football field were obviously questionable, I have to admit that it made for some compelling drama. The fourth quarters of those Broncos games were EXCITING.

      I stopped watching ESPN even before the Jemele Hill debacle (well, the latest Hill debacle). ESPN seemed like it was being run by a left-wing totalitarian Big Brother entity that defined its own brand of “political correctness” that was decidedly liberal. It just seemed to get worse and worse.

    • exactly. He has the balls to say Colin Kaepernick could fail if someone were to sign him and then what?

  • Christopher Bates

    I generally like Patrick, but this take is bullshit. As long as someone is employed by ESPN, they are on the clock 24/7, and are not allowed to get involved in political issues in their spare time? That’s exceedingly un-American.

    • Matt Jones

      Yes they can, and there are countless examples of sports networks’ employees discussing political issues either on the air or on Twitter without ramifications. They don’t make claims the POTUS is a white supremacist.

      • Christopher Bates

        But what if he is a white supremacist? Is it not ok to point that out? There IS evidence to support that point of view, including his rabidly anti-Mexican announcement speech, his tolerance for the Charlottesville protests, his remarks about Gonzalo Curiel, his handling of white shooters vs. Muslim shooters, etc.

        • William

          I’m pretty liberal, but I think many of you need to look up what a “white supremacist” is. Trump may be a moron, and may even be scared of upsetting the far right, but he has shown nothing, I repeat, nothing, that makes him a white supremacist. He’s just a total buffoon.

          • Christopher Bates

            Actually, I think you may be the one who needs to do some looking up. I did not say that he IS a white supremacist, I asked a hypothetical question. In any case, Trump’s announcement speech–which contains some vicious slurs against Mexicans–could very easily come from the pen/mouth of Richard Spencer. So you’re flat-out wrong to say there’s “nothing, I repeat, nothing” when it comes to evidence.

    • William

      I got the impression that he was saying that she is lucky she wasn’t fired because ESPN could have done so, not that he supports the firing. I read it as he’s saying that ESPN, in his experience, can be harsh on you even if you speak on your own time.

    • no one cares about your prattling leftist.

  • Matt Jones

    Watch your local team’s own network’s pre and postgame analysis and the game itself in between = easiest way to avoid mixing sports and politics. Or when national coverage begins to do it, change the channel.

  • Jason H.

    So his point is ESPN is like a bajillion other companies then. People lose their jobs or are otherwise disciplined all the time over things they do off the clock. I dont think this is unique to ESPN.

  • SL

    Jemele Hill will never lose her job. Why?
    She is protected by John Skipper and Bob Iger who are weak and timid white liberals, who cannot bring themselves to discipline a minority host.

    • Christopher Bates

      “cannot bring themselves to discipline a minority host”…which is why she got suspended fr two weeks.

  • Dee Snutz
  • poe

    Jemele Hill and Michael Bennett are the biggest super racists in America today! But it’s ok because they are Black. Blacks can be as vicious and as unscrupulous as they want to be as racists because they are Black they get a free ride. Black criminals can main and destroy people’s lives and then when being arrested spit in the police officer’s face and kick him in the balls but that’s ok because he is Black. Yeah, right! So Jemele Hill continues to get a free ride and blab on about white racist pigs when she is the super super max racist pig of all times. Where does ESPN find these unscrupulous, obnoxious announcers. Then throw in Steven A Smith, the super racist hysteric of all times and we are off to the races. And we are forced to listen to this garbage because ESPN has a contract with Verizon Fios. Get a life and get rid of ESPN please please please please please please please!!!!!! I want to hear sports news not racial bigotry by super racists, Jemele Hill.

    • *maim and destroy, but yes, I agree with you.

  • poe

    Does anyone anywhere want to listen to anything that Jemele Hill has to say about anything sports related? Really? Jemele is only about hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate the white man!

  • poe


  • poe

    What is Jemele Hill doing on a TV sports channel talking about how to hate the white man!

  • 66pugs99

    Dan Patrick used to be great – I listened to his show for almost 15 years – but he has become an on the fence cognomen lately. The problem is Paulie, who tries to steer the show away from interesting takes, in order to stay politically correct, and appeal to everyone. He has shut up interesting characters on the show like Fritzy, for a show that’s become staid. It’s the formula that killed Mike and Mike, as you are not really missing anything by missing their show now. It’s too bad, as The Dan Patrick show used to be one of the best shows in all of radio.