Dan Patrick left ESPN to take control of his career more than 15 years ago, but it appears the worldwide leader got a little vengeful after he left. Patrick appeared on Macrodosing, the Barstool Sports podcast hosted by retired NFL athlete Arian Foster and PFT Commenter, and detailed how ESPN systematically tried to keep his show off of syndication in local markets around the country.
“They were pretty tough to me,” Patrick said. “They were telling radio affiliates if you carry my program that they would drop you as an affiliate. It got ugly for about 10 years.”
Patrick struck a syndication deal with Premiere Radio Networks when he relaunched his radio outside ESPN. It ran in local markets as well as on Sirius XM Sports Nation and on Patrick’s website. It was also one of the first radio shows to be distributed in podcast form.
ESPN and its president John Skipper did not appreciate Patrick competing with the network that he started at.
“I had to go to upper management, and I just said, ‘how about we level the playing field,'” Patrick explained. “‘You’re acknowledging me, that I’m still a threat’ … and John Skipper to his credit basically called off the dogs.”
It was fairly common for ESPN at its peak to aggressively shutting down competitors and former employees. But blocking business deals with local radio affiliates is pretty next-level.
And one would assume Patrick, considering by many one of the founding fathers of ESPN, would avoid the worldwide leader’s wrath. Especially when Patrick has always been open about his desire to explore his personal growth when he left ESPN, which he left on good terms. Not so.
Patrick had to go directly to Skipper to plead that he could continue his radio career unabated.
“I said look, ‘I gave you 18 years of my life,'” Patrick said. “‘Just let me do this.’ I’m the little engine that could.”