Former Inquirer reporter Kate Fagan, who has been a writer, columnist and host for ESPN since 2012, is leaving the network at the end of the year, the Washington Post reported on Monday.
Fagan, who signed a contract extension with the network back in 2016, said she declined another contract extension with ESPN.
"To continue at ESPN I would have to be immersed in the day-to-day in sports," Fagan said. "And I found myself more and more interested in other aspects of sports — like how it connects to our culture. That was not going to be the big business of ESPN."
Fagan's response points to ESPN's decision, under new president Jimmy Pitaro, to foster a better relationship with the NFL by focusing more on sports and steering clear of politics in the wake of players protesting racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. Jemele Hill, who was outspoken about political issues during her time with the network, also recently left ESPN.
Despite that shift, Fagan told the Post she thinks ESPN still cares about important stories and hopes there is a future for Outside the Lines, where she acted as a fill-in host while longtime host Bob Ley is on a sabbatical until at least April of next year.
"At various points, the show has fought for its life in the programming schedule, so that was not a factor [in the departure]," Fagan said. "But because it's a show and a brand and a group of people who are doing important work, I have one eye on it, hoping it continues at ESPN, because it's invaluable."
Fagan, who will guest host Outside the Lines the last week of November, told the Inquirer and Daily News she isn't sure what's next.
"I'm working with [production company] Embassy Row to develop something for the next eight months. I'm speaking about mental health and sports on college campuses. And I'm going to put together another book proposal and work on a TV pilot," Fagan said.
Fagan spent three seasons covering the 76ers for the Inquirer. Her 2014 book "The Reappearing Act," chronicled her process of coming out as gay on a college basketball team led by born-again Christians, which she also addressed head-on in a 2012 ESPN The Magazine column:
"Love the Sinner, hate the sin. I had just come out as gay to a number of my basketball teammates at the University of Colorado, some of whom were Christian, and they responded with those six words, believing them to be an expression of tolerance and acceptance. Love the sinner (in this case, me), hate the sin (in this case, my sexual orientation) became the vehicle that allowed them to transfer the burden of our star-crossed friendship to me."
Scott Hanson’s crazy 25 seconds on NFL RedZone
One of the reasons so many NFL fans tune into NFL RedZone on the NFL Network is the enthusiastic announcing by Scott Hanson, who deftly navigates viewers through the best moments going on in real time.
On Sunday, Hanson found himself faced with the difficult task of calling the ending of two games simultaneously — a late defensive stand by the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Pittsburgh Steelers and a last-second field goal attempt by the Washington Redskins against the Houston Texans.
Here's how Hanson handled the moment:
Hanson's enthusiasm is unmatched against broadcasters not named Tony Romo, but in the heat of the moment he did make a few mistakes.
Because he had to quickly pivot to Washington's field goal attempt, he missed that Jaguars defender D.J. Hayden was called for holding, allowing the Steelers to eventually score a go-ahead touchdown. And like many other viewers, Hanson mistakenly thought Dustin Hopkins' missed field goal hit the crossbar, a mistake he acknowledged on Twitter.
Hanson also made an interesting comment when the Carolina Panthers — down by just one point against the Tennessee Titans — decided to attempt a two-point conversion with just a minute remaining in the game.
"Some people would think this is nuttier than squirrel droppings," Hanson said.
"Felt right in the moment," Hanson wrote on Twitter following the game.
NBC gives Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth Thanksgiving off
Another week, another NFL crew moving from the studio to the broadcast booth.
Following the NFL Network's success using its studio crew of Rich Eisen, Michael Irving, Kurt Warner, and Steve Mariucci to call an NFL game, NBC is turning to its Football Night in America crew to call the network's special Thanksgiving matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints (and yes, even though it's happening on Thursday, it's still billed as a Sunday Night Football Thanksgiving Special).
Mike Tirico, who has experience calling games on both NBC and ESPN, will handle play-by-play duties. He'll be joined in the booth by Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison, neither of whom has ever called an NFL game (though Dungy has worked the second half of the Hall of Fame game for the past few seasons). Michele Tafoya will report from the sidelines.
Also joining the broadcast will be New Orleans-based celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse and voodoo rocker Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, who will offer his own rendition of the Sunday Night Football theme song backed by New Breed Brass Band. But for Eagles fans still reeling from the thwacking the Birds received Sunday night against the Saints, a "Who Dat"-filled show opening might be too much to stomach.