Van Earl Wright

Back in the 1990s, the name Van Earl Wright was synonymous with CNN, whether he was anchoring its late-night headline show or voicing two-minute updates on Headline Sports. His sign-off of “VAN EARL WRIGHT!!! Head-LINE Sppppppoooooorrrrtttts” and his lines of “LOS AN-GHEL-ees” or “DEEEEEEEEP! Over the wall in left field!” were as famous as some of the best SportsCenter catchphrases.

If you’re looking for Wright these days, you won’t find him on television. You will, however, find him on the golf course. He’s a golf caddie traveling the country from Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, Pebble Beach in California, or Old Marsh Golf Club in West Palm Beach, FL. And he does occasionally get recognized.

He told WDIV, his former station in Detroit, that people will say, “Van Earl? There’s only one person I’ve ever heard with the name ‘Van Earl’ and he worked in sports. That’s me.”

Along with his work at CNN, he also worked for the old Fox Sports Net.

Here’s one of his highlight segments from Headline Sports from 1990 featuring a couple of his catchphrases.

And here’s Van Earl anchoring Sports Tonight on CNN from 1992. He was so good at narrating highlights.

Wright worked locally in Charleston, SC, Detroit, MI, and Atlanta, which was his last stop in television. He was laid off in 2020 and that’s when he went to look for work as a caddie.

But his life also took a dark turn when he went to rehab. While working at Fox Sports Net in Los Angeles, Wright says he became addicted to cocaine. He told the Post and Courier in Charleston last year that his choices cost him his family:

“Cocaine became the dominant motivation for me,” Wright said. “My first thought each day was ‘Where can I find some more?’ It’s about the choices I made, and I did not make healthy choices. I made selfish choices. For that reason, I was a very lousy husband and wasn’t fully there as a father.”

Wright said he has learned his lesson and that going to rehab was one of his best experiences. He also offers these words of advice to those in recovery:

• “Don’t try to do it alone. It never works, or at least I’ve never seen it work.”

• “Park the ego.”

• “Listen to those who have walked the path before you.”

Wright’s go-to story comes from a large rehab meeting in which a woman was recognized for 20 years of sobriety. She was asked to speak.

“She was four-foot nothing. She had to stand on a milk crate to be heard,” Wright said. “All she said was, ‘There’s only one thing to remember: Your ego is not your amigo.’ I think that really sums it up.”

Overall, Wright has found happiness on the golf course. There are times when has to carry two bags, but he doesn’t seem to mind. Last month, he was featured on Detroit’s WDIV where he talked about his career, addiction, and his decision to caddie.

Wright says that he didn’t need television to be happy. “It’s a very simple life. I don’t have many possessions. I don’t have a lot of stuff and I don’t have a lot of stress,” he said.

He has an RV that he uses to travel the country to work at various golf courses, telling WDIV that he’s received as much as $900 as a tip from one golfer. He also appreciates getting paid to be outside and exercise.

Wright is a long way from being in a newsroom, but his office is the golf course and it sounds like there’s no other place he’d rather be right now.


About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.