If you thought last week was bizarre to the point of surreal for ESPN, there’s more.
Former ESPN NFL insider Ed Werder said on his Doomsday Podcast (via SportsBusiness Daily) that ESPN asked him to work the draft after letting him go. He declined.
“It seemed like it was my option and I chose not to,” Werder said. “I just didn’t feel like it was the right place for me to be.”
Since Werder’s contract still has time left on it, ESPN could have simply waited to cut the cord on him until after the draft. Instead, Werder was paid to not work — and will continue to be paid to not work until he finds another job that ESPN allows him to take, but only if ESPN receives credit for what he makes elsewhere.
Werder said on the podcast that he believes he was “unjustly fired” (Commissioner Roger Goodell apparently agrees; Werder explained that Goodell said he was “angered” by the move), and that the layoff decisions weren’t based on merit. Which begs the question of what the basis for the decisions really was, if they weren’t based on keeping the best and moving on from those employees who weren’t?
If that seems odd, consider this: John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal reports that some of the employees who were fired have contracts that last up to five more years, and that several reporters offered to continue working during those contracts but were told they couldn’t.
It seems like anything but the responsible and prudent way to run a major division of Disney, a publicly-traded company. Although the overriding goal was to slash costs due to a massive and ongoing reduction in subscribers, getting rid of people based on reasons other than merit and refusing to let people who wanted to continue to work from working makes little sense, and only compounds the bad decisions that led ESPN to the point at which these massive cuts were even necessary.