Wednesday was one of the darkest days in ESPN’s storied history. Due to a number of factors—sinking TV viewership and decreased ad sales in 2016 probably being the two most important—The Worldwide Leader in Sports laid off approximately 100 people throughout the course of the day. Some were ESPN.com columnists that you may or may not have been familiar with, while others, like Ed Werder, Danny Kanell, and Trent Dilfer, were on-air personalities who, until yesterday, had played prominent roles at the network.
It was strange to watch ESPN on Wednesday. While everyone else in the sports world was busy talking about the layoffs, it was business as usual for most employees. There were NFL Draft discussions to be had and NBA playoff arguments to be made, so most ESPN shows focused on those as opposed to what was going on elsewhere in the company. For the most part, there was no mention of the massive number of layoffs on the air.
But that changed at around midnight when Scott Van Pelt did his nightly 1 Big Thing segment on SportsCenter. Rather than discuss something from the draft or the NBA postseason, SVP dedicated the segment to his now-former colleagues at ESPN and expressed how disappointed he was personally to hear about the layoffs that took place. It was a somber moment and a reminder that the layoffs affected both those who lost their jobs and those who are now left behind at ESPN to pick up the pieces and keep things going.
You can check out SVP’s 1 Big Thing segment in the clip above. You can also hear what longtime ESPN staffer Bob Ley had to say during a short segment about the laid-off employees on Outside the Lines below.