Fans of ESPN will see less of two media giants as both Rick Reilly and Brent Musburger will take on smaller roles with the Worldwide Leader.
According to Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated, Musburger will move to the SEC Network, calling games with Jesse Palmer. Meanwhile, well-known ESPN columnist Rick Reilly has decided to give up his regular column for ESPN.com to instead focus on other projects within the company.
Reilly provided this message to his readers on Twitter:
I've written sports for 36 years + over 2 million words. Time 2 write something new. Had SO much fun. Tried to make a difference. THANK YOU— Rick Reilly (@ReillyRick) March 12, 2014
Thanks to everybody who liked the column and even those who hated it. You fired me up. It was a privilege.— Rick Reilly (@ReillyRick) March 12, 2014
According to Bill Hofheimer of ESPNFrontRow.com, Reilly will no longer contribute to ESPN.com's front page, something he has done since coming to the website in 2007. He will instead create four-minute human interest stories for Monday Night Countdown and other shows on the network.
Despite his polarizing personality, many around sports media had nothing but kind words for Reilly as he enters this new phase of his career. Per Hofheimer, Vice President of ESPN Digital & Print Media Patrick Stiegman said:
Rick consistently distinguished himself with his unique voice, penchant for humor and most important, ability to find and tell compelling stories. His weekly columns were regularly among the most read and shared on our site, and the body of his work over the course of his writing career speaks for itself. He’s a Hall of Famer for a reason.
Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports and Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated also passed along their thoughts:
Congrats to @ReillyRick, my first sports writing role model. Still have the handwritten note he sent me in college critiquing my stuff.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) March 12, 2014
Rick Reilly's pieces on Marge Schott, the Citadel, Bryant Gumbel & others are some of the best sportswriting I've ever read.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) March 12, 2014
Reilly might have been best known for his 23 years at Sports Illustrated where he made a name for himself as a back-page columnist. His career at the popular magazine, along with his work at The Denver Post, Los Angeles Times and ESPN, helped put him into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame.
He will be officially inducted along with Marv Albert in June.
In the other major story, Musburger will move off ESPN and ABC broadcasts to instead contribute to the new SEC Network.
According to Deitsch, the longtime announcer said in a statement, "I'm delighted to be staying with ESPN, thrilled to be able to call the best football conference in the nation every week and am really looking forward to working with Jesse, who I covered while he was at Florida."
As a result, Musburger will not be calling the prime-time events, including the National Championship Game. It is unknown who will replace the iconic 74-year-old announcer, but it will certainly be a coveted job for play-by-play men around the country.
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