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Volume 25 No. 216
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ESPN's Bob Ley To Retire After Nearly 40 Years At The Network

Ley, who joined ESPN in '79, has been on a sabbatical from the net since the end of September
Photo: ESPN IMAGES

Bob Ley this morning announced he is retiring from ESPN, effective at the end of the month. Ley in a statement posted on social media said the move is "entirely my decision" and that health did not play into the timing. The move comes after Ley had been on a sabbatical from the net since the end of September. He referenced ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro and his leadership team in his statement by writing, "My sincere personal thanks for their understanding and patience over the past months." Ley joined ESPN just days after it launched in September '79 and had been the last person from its initial batch of "SportsCenter" hosts to still appear regularly on the net. Pitaro praised Ley's tenure in a statement that read in part, "His unwavering commitment and unparalleled work ethic drove our journalistic ambitions" (THE DAILY). Ley has filled a variety of roles at ESPN as it "blossomed in the four decades" since it launched, "most notably" being his "OTL" hosting duties (USATODAY.com, 6/26). Ley was the "most established and trusted voice at the network" (NYPOST.com, 6/26). He is "widely recognized as the journalistic conscience of the network" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 6/26). Ley's admirers claim his departure "is the end of an era for sports television" (CNN.com, 6/26).

Sports media personalities across the industry were quick to wish Ley well on Twitter and reminisce on the legacy he leaves behind.

Current and former ESPN employees:

Jeremy Schaap: "End of an era, and then some. ... We’re all going to miss this man."

* Adrian Wojnarowski‏: “One of the greatest to ever to do it and a role model for an entire industry.”

* Jay Bilas: “The most respected voice at ESPN. Bob Ley has always been the conscience of sports journalism.”.

* Louis Riddick: "Bob Ley, you are the standard in our business. Everyone knows it."

* Dick Vitale: "He is as good as it gets ... vital in helping me in making transition to TV."

* Taylor Twellman: "NOBODY like this guy. I’m honored and privileged to have worked with this man."

* Bruce Feldman‏: “Best of luck, Bob. You did as much for journalism as anyone in sports TV.. Am honored to have worked with you.”

* Steve Bunin‏: “Bob - you were and are an inspiration for all journalists, not just sports.”

* Jason Sobel‏: “Echoing the sentiments of many others. The gold standard in our industry. An honor to work him.”

* Tim Brando: “No one understood the news end of sports like Bob. One of a kind talent.”

* Doug Gottlieb‏: “Thanks for being both a friend and a mentor while simply walking on the river trail or when grabbing a bite at work. I hope people know how kind and generous you have been to so many others.”

Melissa Jacobs: “Congratulations Bob. Always admired your work ethic and the legitimacy you brought to any room.”

* Jemele Hill: “You are the gold standard in this profession. It was a honor being your colleague and I always appreciated your encouragement.”

* Jeff Goodman: "Congrats to one of the best the industry has ever seen. A pro’s pro. Just tough because journalism needs guys like Bob Ley now more than ever."

Others:

* SI.com’s Grant Wahl‏: “Legend of American broadcasting. So many things I could say here, but will just leave it as complete and total respect for everything @BobLeyESPN has done.”

* Yahoo Sports’ Jay Busbee‏: “The absolute gold standard for our industry. Tremendous loss for ESPN, but can’t wait to see what Bob does next.”

* USA Today’s Michelle R. Martinelli: “Bob Ley addressed head-on the topics not everyone wanted to acknowledge.”

* The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch: “The acclaimed sports journalism professor Sandy Padwe -- who worked at the NYT, SI, Newsday and eventually as a consultant for Outside the Lines -- called Bob Ley the ‘conscience’ of ESPN. ESPN is already a different place but it will truly be a different place without Ley.”

* Sports journalist Jeff Eisenband: "Bob Ley touched on every generation. ... I'll always remember eating breakfast Sunday morning as a kid, letting him take me deep into a story."

* Author James Miller: "This is not shocking; is understandable; but nevertheless unfortunate -- for viewers and of course, @espn."

* The Nation's Dave Zirin: "Thank you Bob for your support, encouragement, and leadership. ... I'm genuinely saddened by this news, but happy that you are going on your own terms."

* The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Doug Roberson: "Bob Ley was one of the few, perhaps only, #espn anchors who seemed to understand that the news was the schtick. Needed no catchphrases, cleverness (good or bad) or bombasity. I miss that."

* Forbes' Maury Brown‏: “Thank you for making television a better place.”

* TV producer and screenwriter Dan Fogelman: "When I was 19, I thought I wanted to be a sports journalist. Somehow I got Bob Ley’s number and called for advice. He spent 30 minutes on the phone w a total stranger."