Joe Valerio produced ESPN’s The Sports Reporters for 28 years, from 1989 through 2017.

That’s almost the entirety of the panel program’s run (it debuted in the fall of 1988 and had its last show in 2018) and therefore deserves credit for a lot of what made it such an important and influential piece of sports media. Valerio died this weekend at 71 due to pancreatic cancer.

Jeremy Schaap, fittingly, delivered ESPN’s main on-air tribute to Valerio and his contributions; it’s not a stretch when Schaap notes the direct line that can be drawn from The Sports Reporters to Around the HornPTI, and just about any sort of sports panel debate/discussion show in existence, for better or worse.

But Schaap wasn’t the only member of the ESPN community and former TSR panelists to pay tribute to Valerio. Many more offered their memories and condolences via Twitter:

There are many more, too. The notes from people who worked behind-the-scenes and/or below the line stand out.

ESPN released this statement:

Valerio, who had worked in ESPN’s programming department for a short time in the early days of ESPN, oversaw the majority of the production of The Sports Reporters’ 30-year run. The show aired every week from its debut in October 1988 through its final episode in May 2017.

As ESPN reporter Jeremy Schaap outlined in this tribute piece which aired on ESPN this morning, Valerio was known for his passion, sharp wit, and smarts. A groundbreaking program featuring newspaper columnists debating issues in sports, The Sports Reporters helped usher in a new genre of sports studio programming, while bolstering the profile of some of the most renowned sports personalities in the industry.

Condolences to Valerio’s family and friends.

[ESPN]

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.