ESPN asked Ed Werder to work the draft after firing him

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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.

39 responses to “ESPN asked Ed Werder to work the draft after firing him

  1. Aside from merit, I’m sure they looked at the price tag. Everyone has a price at which they would walk away from even the best reporter in the universe.

  2. “getting rid of people based on reasons other than merit … makes little sense”

    Sadly it makes perfect sense if all you are concerned about is making a profit. Disney is like any huge corporation in this regard. When profits are down, it is typically the expensive non-management employees who are laid off, not the young cheap ones.

  3. Everyone know that ESPN is going with the TMZ style or reporting, Werdner has way to much credibility and respect. That is not what ESPN is looking for any longer.

  4. mckludge says:
    May 2, 2017 2:53 PM

    “getting rid of people based on reasons other than merit … makes little sense”
    You do realize that ESPN is a business, and that they may make decisions based on cost savings, right?

  5. ESPN also needs to learn to stay politically neutral. They turned off a great deal of people with their liberal views and politically correct positioning. I want sports reporting, not political viewpoint.

  6. It was based on that you were there a long time and made more money than other “reporters.” Pretty simple stuff Ed. Also, let’s not start with the quality work nonsense. BSPN jumped the shark on that back in the early 90s.

  7. This isn’t about money, it’s about a network that has increasingly grown stale. It’s enough with Berman, Werder, et al. All of these people are old and cliche.

    ESPN is taking a risk in attempting to reinvent itself. Whether it brings back subscribers or not is the issue at hand.

  8. These sports networks and websites and those who work for them are entertainment. They – particularly ESPN – think they are journalists with in depth reporting and analysis. They think we want their opinions on everything from politics to race relations to climate change.

    Over a hundred years ago they had organ grinders with their monkeys and nobody wanted to listen to their political or social opinions. If they did people moved on down the street. My advice to them play your music and let the monkeys dance or everyone will be moving down the street.

  9. ESPN had become a hollow joke of itself some time ago. These firings weren’t the result of them jumping the shark. That happened long ago. This is just the tsunami tidal wave that jumping the shark has only now caused. It’s a crying shame that an over-the-hill Chris Berman wasn’t swept out with the others too.

  10. So Werder was one of Goodell’s little worms that he used to spread lies through.

    As far as I’m concerned he, like all the bspn talking heads, long ago lost all credibility with me with all the lies and plagiarism that takes place there.

    Have not watched the worldwide joke of sportscasting for more than 10 years now, and happy to see that pathetic network falling apart at the seams.

  11. So you have to look at it like this.

    ESPN needs to reduce expenses. When employees have contracts, there isn’t much you can do. However, the only leverage that ESPN has here, is to take people who make their living in the public space out of the public space. By continuing to pay these employees, they are not in violation of the contracts.

    Ultimately, these employees will find other jobs – and that will void their contract with ESPN – or they will choose to be paid out their entire contract, and run the risk that no one will remember them when their contract is up.

    The first scenario is more likely than the second one. The world is changing, and unfortunately ESPN was slow to learn that lesson.

  12. When layoffs come, they don’t trim the fat from the bottom up. Big salaries are the first to go.

  13. The fact that Michael Smith and Jammeille Hill are employed after failed show after failed show is criminal. They both are worthless. Add ZERO value. None.

  14. “responsible and prudent ” don’t belong in the same sentence as ESPN. I’ve been wishing for the last decade that they would just put on infomercials or dead air in between major sporting events. The on-air ‘talent’ brings nothing but lame ‘hot takes’ to the table.

  15. Who watches Sportscenter except at a bar or if it’s on the background at work? Why wait to hear the news when I can find it all more quickly online? Why wait for highlights when I can find them online and watch as many times as I want?

  16. Also, I get tired of people acting like they’re owed a job. You worked in one place for nearly 20 years. Consider yourself lucky. That’s capitalism. Corporations don’t care who that affects as long as they make enough money to cover private school tuition and the nanny expenses for the top of the pyramid. But people stop liking capitalism when it affects them. Go find another job or retire; stop complaining about it. Also, for the guy talking about Berman, he pretty much has lost his job too and was stealing money for a long time. They let him stay on in a much reduced role, so I’m pretty certain it’s at a fraction of his former salary.

  17. Pretty obvious. BSPN is firing its remaining sports reporters because it is going all in on the politically driven sports-flavored editorial programming it has ramped up the last 8 years. Most of their programming already resembles The View with a few baseballs on a shelf in the background, this will just make it official.

  18. like all corporations a cold, HR department did the cuts using only age, salary, gender and time served. The goal was to trim x number of dollars while making the cuts so generic no one could sue on discrimination grounds.

    Though the firing of people with multiple years on their contract is just bizarre.

  19. The fall of ESPN – the next step to making America great again. ESPN can go back in the woods with Hillary. Seeing liberal heads implode- priceless.

  20. it amazes me the people who work under a contract, when the other 90% of us are day to day. Forgive me if I don’t feel bad

  21. I haven’t really watched a SportsCenter is quite awhile. I would tune it in when Lindsay Czarniak was an anchor but that’s because I am familiar with her from her previous work in DC. (I actually think she did better work at NBC in DC). But aside from that, it’s probably a good three-five years that I watched SportsCenter, the way I definitely would in the 1990s.

    Right now, the only time any ESPN channel is on for me is when a game I want to see is on. I do not watch pre or post game shows or any of the glut of analytical/entertainment shows they otherwise show. They need to get back to focusing on games and dispense with the glut of infotainment and people yelling commentary. And the sports leagues need to seriously look at whether they are really an effective platform for them (this means you, MLB and NFL), especially considering web streaming (like the MLB At Bat app, which is frankly how I watch most baseball – local announcers!)

    Werder is a solid reporter and I would not doubt that he gets hired by someone. But I hope he makes ESPN sweat it out a bit.

  22. If they aren’t being fired based on merit, then it seems most likely that they are being fired based on race and/or political affiliation. ESPN has been banging that intolerant ‘progressive’ drum for quite a while and just like many others that march to that beat, they can’t abide anyone that is guilty of wrongthink.

  23. The firings make economic sense, even if the fired employees are under extended contracts, if they find employment elsewhere, since the consideration paid for the new job is likely credited against the amount owed under the ESPN contract.

  24. ESPN has become a left-wing network that panders to Millennials and high school freshmen. Their cute little ads and jokes are tiresome and they forgot what the word “journalism” even means. I hope they fail for what they have done to excellent reporters like Werder and Curt Schilling.

  25. I watched Sportscenter when I was a kid. It appealed to teenagers then. So I’m not sure today is any different. I grew up and stopped watching what I enjoyed when I was 13-15. A lot of these guys ARE good but many of them do their best work on Twitter.

    Also, this was about business not politics. You don’t think newspapers went out of business because they got more leftwing, do you? if so, you must have Rip Van Winkled through the entire internet generation.

  26. The funniest part is Pardon My Take is literally just a couple of goofballs that talk like the rest of us and they’ve taken the industry by storm. Best podcast in the game, best satire in the game, and they are a huge reason why ESPN is finally committing Seppuku and i love every moment of it.

  27. Anybody complaining about who’s still there (Jamele, Stephen A., etc.,) ESPN isn’t worried about what you think. You are the folks that are already gone and aren’t coming back. How many of you would return to ESPN if they fired all those people? I didn’t think so.
    The folks they have left are the ones they think are popular with the remaining audience. And anybody who doesn’t want to cut the cord. ESPN is cutting those that doesn’t pull in the viewers as well as the ‘fat’ in their on-air.

  28. I don’t see why Florio is still employed – and that clown that covers the Redskins, John Keim, should have been fired last year after being obtuse and lazy in his reporting.

    Florio is the one who fabricated the claim that Jeff Fisher had signed an extension and was ultimately filed – he may not have started the fabrication, but he passed it off without even checking out the facts. That is malfeasance. That is grounds for termination in any self respecting reporting agency.

  29. In other news, there are still people that watch BSPN. I only watch it for select football games and only then because I like football, not the network. I haven’t watched it regularly in twenty years because of online sports sites where I can find the same information without listening to all the hyperbole.

  30. Suzie Kolber is a class act. They should have axed big mouth Wendy Nix and kept Jade McCarthy, but like many have already said, who watches the show much anymore.

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