It’s been known for months that ESPN layoffs were coming as part of a wider announced cut of 7,000 employees across Disney announced by CEO Bob Iger in February. And they’ve already started to take effect. Back in April, Andrew Marchand of The New York Post broke the news that the cuts would likely cover three rounds. While the first two rounds of cuts didn’t involve many on-air figures, Marchand reported at the time that some on-air figures were going to be asked to choose between taking pay cuts to stay or being laid off.
And now, it appears like that will go into effect sooner than later.
Monday, Marchand broke the news that further ESPN talent layoffs (following the rounds already conducted) are expected towards the end of June. And according to Marchand, those who are likely in the most trouble of losing their positions are the on-air talent who make a lot of money but don’t work that much.
Unfortunately, as mentioned by Marchand, Suzy Kolber and Steve Young, both fit that criteria, as ESPN could look to make some changes to its Monday Night Football pregame crew. While Kolber and Young have been stalwarts on the network’s Monday Night Countdown, they don’t wear many other hats for The Worldwide Leader, which is why their names have been floated as potential layoffs loom. (But this isn’t necessarily a clear layoff of them, and Marchand’s earlier report of people being asked to take pay cuts to stay may also apply here.)
Since rejoining ESPN in 1999, Kolber has become an important part of the network’s pro football coverage. She has hosted a number of NFL-related programs including NFL Matchup, NFL Live, and NFL Insiders. She has also been the permanent host of Monday Night Countdown since 2015.
If ESPN elects to move on from Kolber as the MNF pregame host, Marchand writes that NFL Live host Laura Rutledge “is probably the favorite to replace her.”
As for Young, it was suggested in a Bloomberg profile that was published on the San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback back in 2017 that he apparently only works for ESPN because his private equity partners want him to to keep his public profile high. It was also suggested there that he sees Monday Night Countdown mostly as a vehicle to enhance his other business.
That’s beside the point here, though. Young has remained a mainstay on Monday Night Countdown for the past five seasons. And Kolber has been the backbone of Monday Night Countdown for several years now. And even as she’s seen her other ESPN roles diminish over the years, she still has done an excellent job in her coverage for the network.
It will be worth keeping an eye on if anyone takes ESPN up on those offers of staying in prominent roles with less pay. It will also be worth watching who actually exits. As of now, it appears that Kolber and Young could be the most prominent names on their way out.