Dan Le Batard hasn’t been shy about addressing controversial topics throughout his career — even if ESPN prefers its biggest voices “stick to sports.”
So when the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reported on Monday that a “massive shakeup” at ESPN Radio could eventually lead to the end of “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz,” of course Le Batard was going to respond.
Le Batard’s radio show may not “mesh with the tastes” of ESPN executive vice president Norby Williamson, according to Marchand, because the program regularly covers a wide range of topics outside of the sports bubble. With the network possibly looking to switch up on-air talent — a Mike Greenberg return is on the table, and Will Cain is reportedly leaving ESPN for Fox News — Le Batard could find himself off the daily radio schedule.
On Wednesday’s edition of “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz,” Le Batard declared his bosses wouldn’t stop him from discussing the report before launching into a monologue about his future and how ESPN often attempts to ignore stories that don’t put the company in the best light.
“Anybody who’s followed us at ESPN knows that I negotiate freedom, not money,” Le Batard said. “I negotiate the ability, as a child of exile, to talk about the things that I want to talk about. And so, the idea that there would be a newspaper story, and any executive would have any issue with me commenting on a newspaper story about us, when I’m in the radio content business, like, I’m not really going to ignore that one.
“When the story is not flattering to us, when ESPN has fired an employee (Adnan Virk) for talking to the media about stuff, and then you get this weird story in the New York Post during a pandemic talking about whether we’re going to be here any more when we’ve got two-and-a-half years of an expensive contract that we’re tied into, that makes it kind of ridiculous, the whole story. So to not talk about it, it’s one of the objections I’ve always had. ESPN doesn’t like to cover itself the way it covers others, but hell if you’re going to do that to me.
“I’m a journalist. They wrote a story about us. I called some people. They said it’s not true. They said it’s false. It’s a false story.”
Le Batard, who reportedly makes $3.5 million per year, caused a stir last year when he called ESPN’s policy on political discussions “cowardly.” He reiterated his stance on these issues during Wednesday’s show, adding that only talking sports during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is particularly silly.
“I like to talk about journalism and race and other things,” Le Batard said. “If you’re going to come at me during a pandemic with ‘Sports! More Sports!’ Like, get out of here.”
While ESPN Radio may undergo significant changes down the road, the reported scenario doesn’t necessarily mean Le Batard would leave the company entirely. In addition to his radio responsibilities, Le Batard also hosts the TV show “Highly Questionable” and has a significant podcast following.
The end of “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” doesn’t appear to be imminent, so don’t expect Le Batard to stay silent if his name is dropped back into the news cycle.