Olbermann: No attempt by ESPN to curtail his bashing of Roger Goodell

Richard Deitsch has a two-part interview with Keith Olbermann at SI.com. The overriding theme is that Olbermann is very happy with his situation at ESPN. That’s good to hear since happiness has been elusive for him at many points in his career.

If you’ve been watching Olbermann, you know he hardly is a fan of Roger Goodell. Nobody has gone harder in calling for the commissioner’s ouster.

Olbermann’s harsh words likely have made things a bit uncomfortable for ESPN, which has a considerable investment in the NFL. However, he says the network has supported his right to express those views.

Then again, imagine the scene if ESPN tried to curtail Olbermann on Goodell.

From the interview:

Have you heard from either the NFL or your own management about your repeated commentaries calling for Roger Goodell to be fired?

I have not heard from the NFL, not one word. Or, if the NFL has said anything, my management has protected me from it. Now I don’t know that to be true but I know I have had no emails, no phone calls, no threats. As for the resignation call for Goodell, I have heard from management to the highest levels of this company, and they have all been supportive. I don’t know that they have been supportive to the point where they willing to say we agree with you, but they have given me complete support for expressing this opinion.

The first day I said Roger Goodell should quit was after a Peter King story about whether Janay and Ray Rice were interviewed by Goodell together. So that was end of July, beginning of August. I said then that it completely ruined the investigation, and the support from my taking that stance and my right to take that stance has been 100 percent. Since then I might be at three dozen commentaries [on the NFL] and I think the total number of requests for changes is 10 words.

Your employer has a prominent financial connection to the NFL as a broadcast rightsholder. When you call for Goodell to be fired or are highly critical of that league, do you or your staff let your bosses know that it is coming?

I think there have been commentaries they [management] have not been happy with but they let me do them anyway. I think that underscores the mutual respect. They have handed me a big platform on the network and said here are the lines and the process but we will not interfere with what your editorial conclusions are. The mechanics are as soon as we decide what the commentary will be, [executive producer] Kevin Wildes will tell the appropriate executives in Bristol so they may have as much as six hours notice. The key people all get the A Block [opening] commentary and the Worst Persons. So the scripts are sitting with them for a couple of hours. The reason we work on these topics so far in advance is to give the company a chance to vet them and to give our own people the chance to make all the graphics and all the video and all the production elements that make it look slick rather than some guy staring into the camera for six minutes.

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