A Big Reunion? ESPN Wants Dan Patrick Back

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  • ESPN is interested in bringing back prodigal son Dan Patrick. But is Patrick interested in rejoining ESPN?
  • Ex-ESPN President John Skipper tried to lure Patrick back in December, 2017.
ESPN has been getting the band back together, bringing back Chris Berman, Tom Jackson and Keith Olbermann. Now it wants prodigal son Dan Patrick back in Bristol.
Photo Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN has been getting the old band back together, bringing back veterans like Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, and Keith Olbermann. Now ESPN is interested in bringing back another blast from the past: Dan Patrick. 

Ideally, ESPN would love to hire Patrick to host a weekday afternoon edition of “SportsCenter,” said sources. He could also possibly do radio.  At the very least, ESPN would like Patrick to make regular appearances on the network, sources said.

Patrick is still plugged into the biggest news stories. He made headlines last week by reporting Jay-Z was putting pressure on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to “do the right thing” by staging a workout for the blacklisted Colin Kaepernick. 

Still, it would take convincing to get Patrick to put on an ESPN jersey again. There are several obstacles that make this reunion a long shot. 

Patrick hosts his own nationally syndicated “Dan Patrick Show” with his popular supporting cast of “Danettes:” Executive Producers Paul Pabst and Todd Fritz; Director of Operations Patrick “Seton” O’Connor; and Blogger Andrew “McLovin” Perloff.

During an emotional radio show in May, the 63-year old opened up about his struggle with polymyalgia rheumatica, an inflammatory disorder that causes extreme joint pain.

Patrick underwent chemotherapy. But side effects included memory loss and daily headaches. He may want to do less TV/radio; not more.

Patrick has also had a testy relationship with ESPN after leaving what he calls the “Mothership” in 2007. But the cold war between Patrick and the network has been thawing.

Along with notable alumni like Robin Roberts and Mike Tirico, Patrick made a surprise trip to Bristol to help ESPN celebrate its 40th anniversary in September. Patrick said he was personally invited by ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro, who he has “great respect” for. 

At the urging his former boss Norby Williamson, Patrick teamed with Olbermann to shoot their first “SportsCenter” episode in 22 years. 

The wisecracking duo were the most celebrated “SportsCenter” anchors ever during their five-year run from 1992 to 1997. While Patrick and Olbermann are not close in real life, they created a connection on the air. 

On his radio show, Patrick confessed to becoming emotional during his return compared to a more stoic Bob Ley. But he stated afterward he was not returning to ESPN to host “SportsCenter.” 

“This was a one-and-done, officially retired and I’m glad I did it,” said Patrick. “If you had said to me two years ago, five years ago, seven years ago, I would have said, ‘Never.’

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A Patrick comeback at ESPN would underscore the back-to-the-future approach of Pitaro and Williamson. The network recently brought back semi-retired Berman and the retired Jackson to recreate their legendary “NFL Primetime” highlights show, this time for the ESPN+. 

At a time when many experts were predicting the end of highlights shows, Williamson has successfully remade “SportsCenter” into ESPN’s flagship studio property and a linchpin of their daily studio programming.

An afternoon time slot could be opening up soon. Ben Strauss of The Washington Post reported the contracts of “High Noon” co-hosts Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre will expire in the early spring. If the duo doesn’t return, “High Noon” could be canceled, opening up a slot for a Patrick-led show.

“This is Norby getting his old gang back together,” said one source.

This is not the first time ESPN has tried to hire back Patrick either. He previously confirmed on his radio show that ESPN President John Skipper held an exploratory meeting with him just days before Skipper resigned his post in December 2017. 

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At the time, ESPN was interested in possibly making Patrick the success to Berman as the anchor of the “Sunday NFL Countdown” pregame show, said sources.

ESPN declined to comment. Patrick could not be reached.