Several months ago, rumors quickly percolated then even more quickly dissipated about a possible return of Keith Olbermann to ESPN. According to Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News (via SportsBusiness Daily), those rumors have resurrected — and they could be more than rumors.
Raissman reports that Olbermann is talking to ESPN about hosting a late-night talk show on ESPN2, the sister network Olbermann helped launch more than 20 years ago.
Driving the discussions of an unlikely reunion, which Raissman calls “very fluid,” could be the mutual enemy of ESPN and Olbermann. With FOX Sports 1 coming next month, ESPN apparently is looking for ways to continue its domination of the TV sports landscape. While Olbermann had an ugly split with ESPN, he had an even uglier divorce from FOX, and the animosity lingered through his time with MSNBC, where Olbermann hosted a popular and polarizing (and extremely entertaining and informative) evening news and analysis show. Olbermann also co-hosted NBC’s Football Night in America from 2007 through 2009.
So, basically, Olberman and ESPN would be operating the theory of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend, even if the enemy of my enemy was much closer to enemy than a friend absent the common enemy.”
It remains to be seen whether that thinking will extend to ESPN’s Bill Simmons, who publicly has feuded with Olbermann in the past. And Raissman points out that the possible return of Olbermann to ESPN could rankle Turner Sports, where Olberman is slated to debut later this year as the MLB postseason studio host.
That question hinges on the terms of Olbermann’s contract. It won’t be surprising to learn that Turner didn’t bother to include a clause that prevents Olbermann from working for ESPN, since many would have never believed that Olbermann would ever return.
It’s still not a done deal, but it’s an intriguing development that could bring a very unique and diverse talent back to the place where his career took off.