For at least the past quarter-century, ESPN has been the dominant brand in sports media. While its outer edges are being chewed by media fragmentation, cord cutting, increasing rights fees, and both legacy and upstart competition, ESPN remains a difficult place to leave. Among those who have departed, many have gotten lost in the media landscape; others decided the grass was not greener on the other side.
This list encompasses 15 talents who had prominent positions at The Mothership, left since the year 2000 to join other media entities, and never returned. The criteria for the rankings are a) body of work, i.e. what have they accomplished outside of ESPN in aggregate, as opposed to being a power ranking of where they stand right now, and b) relevance in the proverbial (if unquantifiable) conversation. It’s difficult to rank people who are on game broadcasts — which are the most-seen vehicles in sports media by a substantial margin, but which the primary attraction is the leagues and athletes as opposed to the broadcasters — versus opinionists or journalists who drive interest in their own work. This is is an inherently subjective exercise and surely you will have your own thoughts about where everyone should be ranked.
15. Brent Musburger
Musburger is having something of a renaissance of late; he’s slated to do the radio broadcasts for the Oakland Raiders and is also joining a daily FS1 gambling show with Charissa Thompson and Clay Travis, according to a recent report from Sporting News’ Michael McCarthy (update: Musburger and Thompson opted not to do the show). The VSiN gambling network he and his son spearheaded built an infrastructure that is primed to capitalize on the new legality.