Olbermann, Patrick said ESPN did not want its talent to become too popular
"SportsCenter's" most famous pairing -- Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick -- reunited at N.Y.'s Paley Center Thursday night on the 20th anniversary of their debut on what they dubbed "The Big Show." The duo spent 90 minutes retelling tales of their fights with ESPN management, poking fun at their bloopers and reflecting on their departures from the network. Chemistry between the two still was evident on the Paley Center stage. They have worked together on occasion since "SportsCenter," appearing on radio and NBC's NFL pregame show. But they both said it is unlikely they would pair up in the foreseeable future. "I HAVE jobs," Patrick said, drawing laughter. They appeared together on "SportsCenter" from '92-97 before Olbermann left ESPN. During that time, they dubbed their version of "SportsCenter" as "The Big Show." Patrick: "It was a rallying cry for us. It gave us an identity." The problem, Olbermann and Patrick said, was that ESPN did not want its talent to become too popular. "Management said, 'We don't want another Berman,'" Patrick said, referencing Chris Berman. "They didn't want stars and egos. They wanted information." Olbermann referenced a TV Guide magazine list that named his and Patrick's "SportsCenter" as one of the 10 best shows on TV. "That became a problem for management," he said. Reflecting on their popularity, Olbermann said they were guided by the same philosophy on-air. "We tried to make each other laugh," he said. Neither Olbermann nor Patrick left ESPN on good terms, though it was clear that while Patrick still held a grudge, Olbermann did not. When Miller asked if Olbermann was waiting for a phone call from Bristol, Patrick quipped, "He will get it before I do. That's the sad part." Olbermann: "I'm at peace with them." On their "SportsCenter" stint, Patrick called Olbermann "the best teammate I've ever had." Olbermann said, "It was joyous -- like walking a tightrope over a pit of fire for an hour was joyous."
: Olbermann referenced his recent acrimonious departure from Current TV with several quips, including one where he compared his decision to move to ESPN2 at its launch with his decision to accept a job at Current TV. "As evidenced by my recent employment, I'm easily led," he said. He took another veiled shot at Current TV later, also when he was speaking of his move to ESPN2. Olbermann: "It was crazy that they wanted to move the young people we had over to ESPN2. That never works. You can never move an audience." He said Current TV allegations that he complained about drivers who tried to talk with him were "nonsense." He said he was known for tipping the drivers, adding, "Apparently, I was the only one to do so." Olbermann added that he was not using a driver last night. He took the E train to the event and planned to walk home.