Last Wednesday morning, longtime NFL reporter Ed Werder became the face of the most recent round of ESPN layoffs when he was the first employee to reveal that he had been laid off by The Worldwide Leader in Sports. Werder’s announcement sent shock waves throughout the sports media industry and set the tone for the day, which was filled with one surprising layoff after another.
But during a recent appearance on the Doomsday Podcast, Werder revealed something that’s almost as stunning as the fact that he lost his job. According to him, he got a call from his boss on Wednesday informing him that he no longer had a job. But in almost the same breath, Werder was also asked if he wanted to cover the NFL Draft for ESPN. He had been scheduled to cover the Saints throughout the draft process, and ESPN wanted him to stay on the beat, even though they had just handed him his walking papers. Not surprisingly, Werder said no.
"When they finished telling me I was laid off, they said this was effective immediately," he said. "And the next thing they told me to do as a former employee of ESPN was stay and cover the Saints draft, which seemed like an odd way to begin your unemployment. But it seemed like it was my option, and I chose not to. I just didn’t feel like it was the right place for me to be, alone in a hotel room and then out in public as a former employee, representing ESPN with the New Orleans Saints. So I went home without covering any picks this time from New Orleans."
Werder—who questioned the future of ESPN in the podcast and revealed that he received calls and texts from NFL head coaches, general managers, past and present players, and even Roger Goodell following his firing—also talked about what he is planning to do next. In short, he doesn’t think he’s going to accept a job anywhere anytime soon, since he’s still technically under contract with ESPN even though he’s not working for them anymore.
"ESPN has told me, and I’m sure all of the others who were let go, that they are going to honor our contracts," he said. "At the same time, their expectation is that we are going to honor those contracts. What I’ve subsequently found out by having dialogue through a lawyer with the legal department is they are not anticipating allowing you to negotiate your way out of your contract. They’re allowing us to go pursue other opportunities if there are some. But if you get a job you want, what I’ve been told is if you want the job, take it knowing you’re not going to be paid by ESPN. You’re not gonna double dip, we’re not gonna just offset."
As if the ESPN layoff stories weren’t already crazy enough, this adds yet another layer to it. Let’s hope Werder is able to get back to work as soon as possible.