We learned last week that Adam Schefter is staying at ESPN for the foreseeable future.
That was despite reported outside interest from sports betting companies. (Another reminder that if you’re in sports media and you’re not being courted by sports betting companies, are you actually really in sports media? Full disclosure: I am not being courted by sports betting companies.)
So, why did Schefter turn down a lot more money to take his talents (and, most importantly, his massive social media following) elsewhere?
According to Schefter himself, it’s simple: comfort.
That’s what he told Peter King, in a section of King’s Football Morning In America column today.
“The media landscape is shifting fast,” Schefter said. “In the end, I felt more comfortable being in a traditional media world.”
King also got the scoop that Schefter’s deal is for five years, while noting that Schefter likely turned down millions more on the table from other outlets. Schefter expounded upon his reasoning, noting that an in-person meeting with ESPN chief Jimmy Pitaro was what convinced him to stay.
But four weeks ago today, he made up his mind to stay at ESPN. That’s when he had breakfast at a Connecticut diner with ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro. “Within three minutes of sitting down,” Schefter said, “I thought to myself, I can’t leave this guy. He was likeable, relatable, a regular guy. I felt right then I had clarity. A burden was lifted. I knew I wanted to stay.”
Presumably Pitaro outlining how many zeros were on the next contract helped provide some of that clarity as well.
When Pitaro took over, he made shoring up a frayed relationship with the NFL a top priority. This offseason has been the biggest example yet, with the Buck and Aikman acquisition, an expansion of the network’s relationship with Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions, and now sealing up a new deal with one of the most visible members of NFL media in Schefter.
That’s a massive turnaround, and Pitaro certainly deserves credit for recognizing that the value that comes with being in business with the league.