A sports broadcasting legend and a pioneer, ESPN’s Bob Ley, is retiring from the network after nearly 40 years.
Ley, 64, has been with “The Worldwide Leader” almost from the start. ESPN revolutionized sports and broadcasting when it launched on Sept. 7, 1979, and Ley signed on as an anchor two days later — and has been there ever since.
He announced his retirement Wednesday on Twitter.
“Across 40 years I have enjoyed a professional journey unimaginable when I joined ESPN on its first weekend in existence in 1979,” Ley wrote. “Each day since has been a unique adventure, one I embraced for the challenge and the unequaled fun of a job like no other.
“Now, it is time for a change. I will be retiring from ESPN, as of the end of the month.
“To be clear, this is entirely my decision. I enjoy the best of health, and the many blessings of friends and family, and it is in that context that I’m making this change.”
Too many folks to thank individually, right now, but know that I have you all in my mind and my heart. Some news to share: pic.twitter.com/Qydhpcy4MV
— Bob Ley (@BobLeyESPN) June 26, 2019
Ley has been on a leave of absence from the network since Oct. 1, 2018, saying at the time, “The idea of stepping back to re-charge is fully 100 percent mine,” reported USA Today. Ley was due to return in early May, but the leave of absence was extended.
He thanked ESPN’s president, saying, “To Jimmy Pitaro and his senior leadership team, my sincere personal thanks for their understanding and patience over the past months.”
Meanwhile, Pitaro praised Ley, saying in a statement, “The standard of excellence that has become a hallmark of ESPN began in the early days when we were a start-up with a bold vision. Bob was there for all of it and, over the years, his unwavering commitment and unparalleled work ethic drove our journalistic ambitions.”
ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro on Bob Ley’s announcement pic.twitter.com/aMxTKFPXht
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) June 26, 2019
Ley has done just about everything at ESPN over the course of his career, including anchoring “SportsCenter,” providing World Cup play-by-play and hosting various studio shows.
But he is best-known for his work on the award-winning sports news show “Outside the Lines,” which tackled issues beyond the field. Ley has hosted the show since its inception in 1990. He’s also the host of ESPN’s “E:60.”
He not only left his mark on viewers and athletes but was revered by his fellow broadcasters as well.
Congrats to @BobLeyESPN on 40 impactful years at ESPN and best of luck with whatever comes next. @bryancurtis wrote about him for us 11 months ago and it’s an interesting re-read.https://t.co/yVpAKCwnfH
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) June 26, 2019
Earning the respect and trust of your colleagues is something that I value, and when you get the handshake and wink/nod from the “General”, you know you have done something right. Bob Ley, you are the standard in our business. Everyone knows it. Thank you for all you have done. https://t.co/cEdgc2XFeG
— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) June 26, 2019
It’s truly the end of an era as Ley — along with Chris Berman — has long been not only the face of the network but the foundation on which it was built.
What’s next for Ley?
— Outside The Lines (@OTLonESPN) June 26, 2019
“In September, I signed off my last show saying, ‘I’ll catch you on the flip side,'” Ley said in his tweet. “Now it’s time to take that vinyl off the turntable (ask your folks), flip it over, and drop the needle on the B-side. There are always great cuts, and hidden gems on the B-side.
“Thank you for a great run.”
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