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Olbermann returns to ESPN (updates with additional quotes)

By Ken Schott
Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Well, it turns out Keith Olbermann didn't burn all the bridges with ESPN.

ESPN announced Wednesday that the prodigal son Olbermann is coming back to the network. He will host the late-night talk show "Olbermann" starting Aug. 26. The show will run from 11 p.m. to midnight.

Olbermann was at ESPN from 1992 to 1997, teaming with Dan Patrick on "SportsCenter." Their popularity transcended the network, and when they did "SportsCenter," it was dubbed "The Big Show."

Olbermann left ESPN under acrimonious circumstances in 1997. He joined NBC Sports, and later FOX Sports. He then joined MSNBC with a political talkshow "Countdown with Keith Olbermann." He didn't hide his disdain for the Republican party on the program.

He left MSNBC to join Current, but was let go from that network under controversial circumstances.

Despite doing a political show, Olbermann continued to dabble in sports. He briefly join ESPN Radio as part of "The Dan Patrick Show." He was also a co-host of NBC's "Football Night in America" from 2007 to 2009. In October, Olbermann will be the studio host of TBS' Major League Baseball playoffs coverage.

"Apart from the opportunity to try to create a nightly hour of sports television that no fan can afford to miss, I'm overwhelmed by the chance to begin anew with ESPN," Olbermann said. "I've been gone for 16 years, and not one day in that time has passed without someone connecting me to the network. Our histories are indelibly intertwined, and frankly, I have long wished that I had the chance to make sure the totality of that story would be a completely positive one. I'm grateful to friends and bosses -- old and new -- who have permitted that opportunity to come to pass. I'm not going to waste it."

The big issue is whether or not Olbermann will bring his political views to the show.

"This is going to be a sports show," ESPN president John Skipper said. "Politics, and governance and elections aren't going to be the subject of the show. Now, there's no prohibition against speaking about when sports rubs up against anything else in our culture -- music, film. If politics happens to intersect with sports, ... we would expect Keith to have some point of view there. Again, it's going to be responsible. We, as a network, don't have an expressed public political point of view, although we do have smart, intelligent commentators who are allowed to express some points of view. It's the exception rather than the rule."

Olbermann said, "The key four words are, 'It's a sports show.' The idea that I would want to do anything that was not specifically sports related, even in the political context, I don't know where that would come from. No political segments, no cultural segments are planned. But if the House [of Representatives] is considering a bill to make PED use a capital offense, we will cover it."

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