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This time it is for good. Olbermann returns to ESPN

After leaving ESPN in 1998 Keith Olbermann is backatthe network a 16 year absence. In his prime it was the duo of Olbermann and Dan Patrick that created "The Big Show," the best combination of anchors ever to do SportsCenter.

But he and management had a big time falling out --- OK, I am being kind here - it was a bloody mess for both sides. Things were so bad that it prompted one former ESPN publicist to say that Olbermann not only burnedbridges, henapalmedthem.

But yesterday it was all smiles as Olbermann joked that "It wasn't quite the Paris peace accords." But returning to the network took some creative work from both sides to get a deal done.

The network announced a new agreement with Olbermann. The new deal calls for a late-night program Monday-Friday on ESPN2,startingMonday, Aug. 26th. The show will be calledOlberman,and will air on ESPN2 at 11 p.m. ET live from the ABC Times Square studios in New York City.

In a conference call with the media Olbermann I got the sensethatgoingback to ESPN might actually be exactly what he needs at this pointinhis career. His track record is well known with stops at MSNBC, twice, FoxandCurrent TV; all ending with Olbermann leaving in some short ofdisputewith management.

He is often the smartest guy in the room and he knows it. Noonecan question Olbermanns immense talent, his sense of humor or his abilitygeta quick grasp of the issues. But like another tormented sports broadcaster,thelate Howard Cosell, Olbermann seems to have a problem handling success.

For the record I am an Olbermann fan and I hope this newdealwith ESPN works out for both sides.

Talking with Olbermann yesterday he seemed very excited toreturnto ESPN. He told me about why it was important to him to get backwithESPN.

Apart from theopportunityto try to create a nightly hour of sports television that no fancanafford to miss, I'm overwhelmed by the chance to begin anew with ESPN. I'vebeengone for 16 years and not one day in that time has passed without someoneconnectingme to the network. Our histories are indelibly intertwined andfranklyI have long wished that I had the chance to make sure the totality ofthatstory would be a completely positive one. I'm grateful to friends andbosses- old and new - who have permitted that opportunity to come to pass. I'mnotgoing to waste it."

Olbermanns new show will focus on the days relevant sportstopicsthrough a mix of perspective and commentary, interviews, contributors,paneldiscussions and highlights. The content of the program will besportsonlyand dont look for politics to creep into the program. This will be Olbermann,onsports and politics, unless it deals with sports, is not on the agenda forhisnew show.

So will success once again ruin Keith Olbermann?

This time I do think that things will be different, in yesterday'smediacall Olbermann, was relaxed and very comfortable with the idea ofreturningto ESPN. As very talented and gifted a broadcaster as he is I thinkthathe knows this show is his best and last chance to return to the top. Thatisreason enough for Olbermann to bringhisA game each night and to stay out of trouble with the network brass.


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