Yesterday ESPN laid off dozens and dozens of prominent, well-known personalities. It was a sad and unfortunate day for the industry because the reality is that these aren’t just lost jobs at ESPN, but lost jobs for the entirety of sports media. ESPN is the ultimate goal for many people who work in sports media and with the cuts taking place there, it means that there are less jobs to go around for everyone.
The realities of ESPN’s economics, and the economics of the industry, meant that ESPN felt they were forced to let go some supremely talented people yesterday. We saw ESPN part ways with a number of people who have been instrumental to their success for well over a decade, people who were at the very top of their profession in a certain area, and people who were household names.
Hopefully, everyone who was caught in the most recent wave of layoffs at ESPN will be able to land on their feet and get a new job somewhere. And hopefully the industry still has room for everyone involved with the sports media world changing so rapidly.
Today, we’ve identified 10 people who are now former ESPN employees who certainly deserve to be picked up elsewhere and could be a home run addition for another sports media company. This list isn’t exhaustive by any means and there are many more names that could be added, these are just our choices for some obvious fits that stand out for what could be next.
Danny Kanell – Fox Sports
Kanell was perhaps the most surprising name in the ESPN layoffs because he seems to check every box that ESPN would want in an on-air personality. He was promoted to be one of their main studio analysts with Joey Galloway and he climbed all the way up the ladder on the radio side to hosting a weekday afternoon show with Ryen Russillo. On top of that, while Kanell has some really good insights, he was also known to poke the bear and deliver some controversial takes that would draw a reaction from listeners and viewers. A multi-platform personality with strong opinions would seem to be everything ESPN is looking for these days.
The obvious fit for Kanell is at Fox Sports, who are certainly not shy about hiring opinion makers and have a growing depth of college football rights. Kanell could immediately step in as one of the network’s top analysts in the studio and can be just as valuable at Fox Sports Radio as either a fill-in host or linking up with an already existing show. Whatever is next, Kanell shouldn’t be on the sidelines long.
Ed Werder – The MMQB
Veteran NFL reporter Ed Werder was one of the first to reveal his fate on social media. As someone who has spent years covering the NFL, he’d be a valuable addition to anyone who would pick him up, either as a writer or as a television reporter. One outlet that could make sense is The MMQB over at Sports Illustrated. Peter King singled out Werder for praise amidst ESPN’s layoffs.
One of the greats in our business. A sad day, adding to many sad days of good people laid off. Feel for you, Ed. https://t.co/JiaTT5nHt7
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) April 26, 2017
Werder would bring a ton of name recognition to The MMQB and increase the outlet’s reputation as a go-to source for football news and insights from some of the sport’s top insiders.
Doug Glanville – Fox Sports
It was stunning to hear Glanville’s ESPN colleagues talk about his departure during live game coverage as he had not personally revealed he was part of the cuts. ESPN gutted much of their hockey and baseball coverage as part of the massive layoffs and it’s unfortunate Glanville was one of the people let go because he was one of the smartest analysts working at the network. Perhaps because there were so many analysts at ESPN, Glanville didn’t get too much of a chance to shine in a main role. Fox Sports should think about picking him up immediately to be one of their top game analysts after John Smoltz, which would give them a very impressive 1-2 combination.
Jayson Stark – MLB Network
Speaking of ESPN’s baseball coverage, few people personified what the network was able to bring like Jayson Stark. As a writer, reporter, and analyst Stark always had a way of bringing something unique to the table and it’s hard to imagine ESPN’s baseball coverage without him. As someone who is so keyed into the past, present and future of the game MLB Network should have already reached out to him. He would be a perfect fit for their litany of programming and could contribute in a number of different ways, whether that be hosting historical or countdown shows, as a studio analyst, or as a reporter.
Dr. Jerry Punch – NBC Sports
It was sad to see Dr. Jerry Punch’s name in the list of ESPN layoffs because he’s been with the network for so long covering NASCAR and college football and seemingly doing it all. Punch has been a pit reporter and lead play-by-play man for NASCAR as well as a sideline reporter and play-by-play man for college football. He had been with the network in some capacity for over 30 years. He would be an excellent addition to NBC’s NASCAR coverage, either in the studio or as a pit reporter.
Trent Dilfer – CBS/Showtime
Another shock inclusion in the layoffs was Trent Dilfer, who ESPN invested a lot of time and effort into grooming as one of their top NFL analysts. Dilfer called Monday Night Football with Chris Berman, was featured on Countdown and The Blitz, and seemed well-positioned for the future in Bristol. Especially after a contract dilemma that eventually saw him stay at ESPN, he would seem like a big name that would be safe. Not so.
Dilfer will be picked up by an outlet that covers the NFL and CBS makes a lot of sense. Dilfer can work in the studio for CBS or CBS Sports Network (he could add a lot of name value to That Other Pregame Show or NFL Monday QB) and could possibly be added to Inside the NFL. The NFL Network could also be a possibility.
Jaymee Sire & Jade McCarthy – NFL Network
ESPN also let go multiple SportsCenter anchors including Jade McCarthy, Jaymee Sire, and Jay Crawford. One of the difficult realities about these layoffs is that there aren’t many places doing highlights anymore so it might be hard for anchors to find a spot at a national outlet. Perhaps one of the league networks could be a fit as it’s hard to see FS1, NBC, or CBS come calling for studio hosts and highlight anchors. However, one of the league networks could be a fit for any of the SportsCenter veterans laid off. McCarthy and Sire both have plenty of experience hosting NFL programming for ESPN so NFL Network could be a logical next step for them. The pair would be great additions.
Jane McManus – Yahoo Sports
Writer and radio host Jane McManus was another surprising name included in ESPN’s cuts as another skilled multi-platform personality. With her writing expertise, Yahoo Sports could make sense as a future destination where she could link up with other top writers and bloggers like Dan Wetzel and Greg Wyshynski. Yahoo has some of the best print journalism in sports these days (see Wetzel’s coverage of the Aaron Hernandez trial) and McManus would only make them stronger.
Brett McMurphy – Bleacher Report
Brett McMurphy is the Adam Schefter of college football. He owned the major news during college football realignment and broke so many stories while working for CBS that ESPN brought him in to be a college football reporter in Bristol. While a return to CBS seems like a natural fit, CBSSports.com has moved away from original reporting towards more aggregation. What about Bleacher Report, though? The online juggernaut has been moving towards hiring more big-name writers recently and McMurphy could bring the burgeoning outlet something completely new and valuable with his many scoops.