From 1989-2006, few names were more synonymous with ESPN than Dan Patrick.
Patrick’s 17-year stint at the network spanned numerous shows, games, and events, but he’s perhaps best remembered for his time hosting SportsCenter alongside Keith Olbermann.
This week, Patrick joined Brandon Contes on the Awful Announcing Podcast to reminisce about those times he had with Olbermann and also got into how since ESPN has embraced entertainment, the network would probably love to have the two of them back in the anchor chairs.
Patrick discussed how he first realized that he and Olbermann were growing in popularity. “I remember TV Guide, when TV Guide was still around, probably mid-90s, they put out a list of ten new shows to watch, and Keith and I were one of the ten. Things changed that day, because now there are people out there who are watching, following, enjoying. When I’d be on the road covering the NBA Finals or World Series, athletes knew who you were and they’d come up to you,” he said.
He also noted that he and Olbermann really didn’t talk about strategy or anything like that very often. “Every time we came in, we caught up with each other, and then when we did the show, we didn’t know what the other person wrote. We wanted to entertain each other,” Patrick said.
Over the past decade or so, ESPN has leaned into the entertainment side of things. Patrick has noticed this and thinks he and Olbermann could have even more success now than they had in the mid-90s. “ESPN didn’t want us to succeed the way we did, which is going to sound strange,” Patrick said. “These days, they’d kill for that show. They’re all about entertainment. Back then it was ‘you’re there to do SportsCenter’ not ‘SportsCenter is lucky to have you two doing it.’ So we’d have to be kind of clandestine, it was late at night, we didn’t know if our bosses were watching. So there was some danger to it. But today, they would encourage all of that.”
Patrick credits Olbermann with encouraging him to think outside the box and push the limits with SportsCenter. “I think I was so worried about making mistakes. I’d watch a re-air of SportsCenter every night. We’d get done and I’d immediately go get the tape and watch to see what I did wrong. Keith walked by and said ‘What’re you doing? You got the job,’ and he was right, but I was searching for perfection when I should have been searching for what I was doing right instead of what I was doing wrong.”
The full episode of The Awful Announcing Podcast with Dan Patrick will be released Thursday morning. Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts. For more content, subscribe to AA’s YouTube page.