Leonard Shapiro, Sports Columnist
Sports Waves

Patrick Should Not Have Trouble Finding Work

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By Leonard Shapiro
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, July 17, 2007; 1:40 PM

Dan Patrick keeps making it sound as if his decision to leave the ESPN television and radio airwaves after 18 years is somehow akin to a giant leap into the deep abyss of the unknown, a potential suicidal career move for arguably the best anchor SportsCenter ever produced, despite what Chris Berman probably thinks.

Oh please.

Patrick, who's long-time anchor partnership with Keith Olbermann helped build the SportsCenter franchise into a ratings juggernaut (despite what Berman probably thinks), will have no problem finding any gainful employment he cares to pursue.

Apparently, that does not include hosting "The Price is Right" as the replacement for retiring Bob Barker. (Now that's a gig Berman might be able to excel at. "Come on down" replaced by "come on back, back, back to curtain No. 3").

Patrick told the Boston Globe last week that he was flattered to be contacted about taking over for Barker, but really had no interest. Instead, he will focus on getting widespread distribution for a new radio show he will do for The Content Factory and then listen to any and all offers.

There should be plenty of offers, and they will probably include doing some freelance work for the worldwide leader, perhaps in the form of a special or some desk jockeying at Super Bowls, NBA playoffs or any other event.

"I knew it was time to leave," Patrick told the Globe. "But I didn't know where I was going. I don't have an agent, so I'll just go to the mailbox and maybe someone will send me a lette ¿ ESPN hasn't ruled out me doing TV or TV specials. I'm choosing to leave for the right reasons, to try something different. (ESPN) is a great cocoon, but sometimes you can't fly as high as you want or stretch your wings as wide as you want."

In the beginning, Patrick and Olbermann were doing something quite different than most anyone else in their wacky business. They had fun with the news, got serious when it was called for but hardly ever treated the daily sports package of scores and highlights as anything even close to global warming or the spread of Islamic radicalism.

Patrick was a tall, handsome Ken Doll with a delicious sense of humor, a guy who coined the phrase "en fuego" among many others and was a smooth operator in handling all that videotape. Olbermann then and now was sort of a mad scientist type, an eccentric soul who thought the world (mostly his ESPN superiors) was out to get him. Eventually, his bosses grew to loathe him as much as he loathed them, and the partnership ended, though he and Patrick have reunited for entertaining segments on Patrick's ESPN radio show.

That radio show, available most recently in Washington on Daniel Snyder's weak-signal Red Zebra stations, had a nice flow to it, and he was rarely reluctant to ask the tough question of a wide variety of guests. At times, though, he sucked up a tad too much to some athletes, but my personal solution there was always simple: Hit a button and go somewhere else on the dial until he came back to his senses.

My major beef with Patrick, Berman and several other ESPN anchors has always been about the way they sold their journalistic souls to advertisers who hired them to shill their products on national television. You think Dan Rather ever beat the drums for Miller Lite?

But, I always blamed the bosses at ESPN for allowing that odious practice to continue more than I blamed the anchors, even though they all should have had the good sense to just say no, for all the obvious reasons.


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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