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Keith Olbermann On His Return to the Sports Beat
July 25, 2013  | By Ed Bark  | 1 comment

BEVERLY HILLS, CA — Keith Olbermann figures he's finally reached the age of reason.

Which for him is 54.

"Well, I better have at this point. Yeah," he says when asked if he's "taken anything" from his previous inabilities to play well with others.

But still, did Olbermann realistically think he'd ever return to ESPN after leaving in a highly publicized huff?

"I never really thought it was worth giving up on the whole thing," he insists. "I mean, if the bridges are burned, take the tunnel. And we found the tunnel to do it. I thought that, at various stages, there would be, to some degree, greater resistance than there was … It's the time to do it. It's 16 years. It's almost literally a Rip Van Winkle period of time. Napoleon, I think, got back to France faster than I got back to ESPN."

He left in 1997 after teaming with Dan Patrick on five very memorable years of SportsCenter, also known as The Big Show when they did it. He's scheduled to return on Aug. 26 with Olbermann, a weeknightly hour of sports perspective and commentary from a guy who revels in speaking his mind. The show will be on ESPN2, though, airing opposite SportsCenter at 11 p.m. ET. And its producer, Jamie Horowitz, says it still hasn't been determined what "programming strategy" will be deployed when Olbermann honors a previous deal with TBS to spend three weeks analyzing post-season Major League Baseball games this fall.

Olbermann wears a light brown suit and is all smiles and riposte during this brief session with TV critics on Day One of the annual Television Critics Association summer "press tour." He's the day's star attraction after Al Jazeera America very belatedly backed out of a scheduled leadoff session in favor of making a series of hiring announcements from its New York City base of operations.

Belatedly added to ESPN's presentation, Olbermann is at first a nightclub comic.

"Is everybody's incarceration going well here at TCA?" he asks. "Tip your waitresses? Enjoy the veal?"

Post-ESPN, Olbermann wore out his initial welcomes at Fox Sports, MSNBC and former vice president Al Gore's Current TV, which earlier this year was bought by Al Jazeera. In the latter instance, dueling lawsuits eventually were settled out of court.

"The places I went to thereafter made ESPN, in retrospect, look like a 'Let's Applaud Keith session' for five years," he says. "So I'm very happy to be back. And my experiences have been much improved in dealing with everybody since I have gotten back."

An initial report in The New York Times said that Olbermann's new deal with ESPN prevents him from talking about politics.

Not true, he says. "There is no such clause referring to content about anything we might do on the show. I don't know where it came from. But it's led to a bunch of questions about 'How could you not talk about politics?' It's been wonderful not talking about politics. It did it for 10 years … It was a lot of work, and it took a lot out of me, and it was not often that much fun."

Still, he bites when asked about Anthony Weiner's alleged new sexual misadventures and his apparent use of the code name "Carlos Danger" to cover them up as he prepared to mount a candidacy for mayor of New York.

"I think that he stole a great fake hotel sign-in name that I would have liked to have used," Olbermann riffs. "I guarantee you, 'Carlos Danger' will wind up in my first show somehow, even if it's talking about (pitcher) Carlos Marmol of the Dodgers and how he presents a 'Carlos Danger' to their bullpen."

He also promises to revive the "Worst Person in the World" segment from his old Countdown show on MSNBC. Only it will be modified to "The Worst Person in the Sports World."

For now at least, Olbermann himself is not perceived as the worst person within the walls of ESPN. That could change, of course, because it seems there's always danger afoot whenever he's back in play.

But for now . . .

"It will be a sportscast with my stamp on it, and obviously my name on it," Olbermann says of his latest second chance. "And I'm very happy that it was spelled correctly."

Read more by Ed Bark at unclebarky.com

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...and Nate Silver,math wiz and crystal ball guru expert at predicting the future in politics via his 538 blog,also comes to ESPN.His politcal number crunching will be on ABC News.After the blunder of the Lone Ranger,looks like Disney did a couple of smart things.If only they wern't so chicken to put Keith & Nate together on an ABC News Sunday special during the 2014 and 2016 election runs.
BTW,always worth mentioning that Keith's inspiration for "Worst Person" came from Bob & Ray.
Jul 26, 2013   |  Reply
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