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Maria Taylor Officially Done At ESPN

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Maria Taylor has worked her final assignment for ESPN, the network announced Wednesday.

ESPN says after much discussion that they could not agree with Taylor on a contract extension.

“So thankful to Jimmy and all of my great teammates and friends at the SEC Network, College GameDay, Women’s and Men’s college basketball, and the NBA Countdown family,” Taylor said in a statement. “[T]he people who believed in me, encouraged me, pushed me, and lifted me up. Words are inadequate to express my boundless appreciation, and I hope to make them proud.”

Sources tell OutKick that Taylor is likely heading to NBC for a role on the network’s Olympic and NFL coverage. Front Office Sports first mentioned NBC as Taylor’s likely next destination.

While race-baiting media writers and disgruntled sports media hosts will try to paint ESPN as racist for not caving to Taylor’s absurd demands, the truth is ESPN offered Taylor $5 million a year last spring, and she declined it. And during the pandemic, at a time when ESPN asked anchors like Kenny Mayne to take a 60% cut, the network offered Taylor around $3 million a year, a 300 percent raise from her current salary.

This divorce is Taylor’s fault. There are no two sides to it.

I was asked in my mailbag earlier this week about the expected aftermath of Taylor’s departure, here was my response:

This is a person who held onto a colleague’s private phone conversation for a year, turned down a $5 million annual offer, and has hired and fired every talent agency that exists. Until she’s out the door, it’s not officially over.

But to your question, the aftermath won’t be positive either way. Taylor burned down the walls at ESPN. I guess that was her only option when the network decided not to pay her $7 million more than she’s worth. (Yet ESPN remains so afraid of being called ‘racist’ that they’d still bring her back, if they could. If you know of a group of guys with fewer balls — please, don’t tell me about them.)

The most likely scenario is that ESPN would feel pressure to replace Taylor with a black female on NBA Countdown. The New York Times already has the headline written if ESPN plans to replace her with a white woman or black man. And before you say that they could replace her with a white guy, just stop. Please. Ain’t no way a white guy will even get a look at that spot.

Promoting talents based on gender and skin color is what some call, well, racist, but that’s still the plan at ESPN. If Taylor goes, ESPN’s decision-making will focus even more on race. If that’s even possible, which I hear it is.

Taylor’s role on College GameDay will be a bit easier for ESPN to fill. The position is minuscule, but it still looks good in a Twitter bio and contract negotiations. ESPN has several names it could quickly throw in Taylor’s place.

As for NBC, good luck.

NBC is willing to clear real estate on Football Night and America and the Olympics for Taylor. Taylor no doubt has the talent to succeed, but the moment she signs, NBC execs are on the clock.

$5 million a year wasn’t enough for Taylor. Jumping the line over several veterans for NBA Countdown wasn’t enough for her. No matter how much NBC gives Taylor, she will feel slighted, and she will use that perceived slight in future contract negotiations.

Prediction: if Taylor ends up at NBC, “sources inside NBC” will become a common phrase. ESPN talents will also see how easily Taylor got away with leaking information that she could then use to her advantage, and they’ll try it too.

Had ESPN caved and paid Taylor what she wanted after her leak-job to the Times, Jimmy Pitaro would have lost even more of his locker room. Taylor is uber-talented, but she’s also a headache. ESPN is better off without the drama. And, for now, Maria Taylor is better off away from ESPN.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.

29 Comments

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    • I agree … “uber talented” at WHAT? How much “talent” does it take to be a tall black chick standing there holding a mic asking inane questions ???

      I still say “they” could pick any CFB, NFL, NBA cheerleader off the sidelines – hand her $50 and a note card with a couple of inane questions and no one would know the difference.

  1. When Maria Taylor first came on the scene, I was blown away by her professionalism, knowledge and overall talent. Now that she has morphed into a demanding woke diva, I am glad I won’t have to watch her on College Gameday anymore (the absolute only thing I tune into ESPN for).

  2. Have to disagree with you Bobby – Maria Taylor won. She played the idiotic Rachel Nichol debacle perfectly to her advantage (which any of us would do in similar situations to maximize earning potential by multiples). The fact is that she may be the future faces of the Olympics and the NFL on also a marquee network (potentially the Premier League can be involved?) and this is a slam dunk for her. The casual and the mainstream audience will like her if she keeps her political view she will be a super star broadcaster and a household name (unlike Karen Nichol)

    • What Rachel Nichols debacle. The part where Maria tried to screw over a colleague that in my eyes did nothing wrong in order to blackmail the company she worked for into giving her way more money than she deserved. And no I don’t believe anyone in her place would do the same thing. I would hope most people wouldn’t act that way. I know I wouldn’t. It takes a really shitty human being to do what she did. I’m glad I dont watch espn or nbc so I won’t have to see her devious ass a the tv screen.

    • Finally! Somebody actually looked at this from a business perspective. Jay Leno hid in a closet spying why trying to get the Tonight Show instead of Letterman after Johnny. I don’t like her politics, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t pontificate her BLM views on air. Just trying to maximize her exposure and dollars, albeit playing dirty in the sandbox outside. Leveraged whatever she could. Now she’ll live with it. Also, Dan Patrick left Sunday Night football for personal reasons a few years ago MM. Finally, JSYK, I don’t like her, but gotta hate the player, not the game!

  3. ESPN prioritized race over experience and skill and had their pet bite them in return, after shitting the bed and publicly shaming one of their top talents. They have nobody to blame but themselves. You would have thought ESPN would have learned their lesson after the whole ESPN 6/Jemele Hill/Michael Smith fiasco. NOPE.

  4. Say what you want, but Taylor got what she wanted. Was it was ethical? No, but this is 2021 woke America and Taylor is a black female. I can see NBC grooming her for a slot in the news or entertainment division of their company.

  5. Here’s hoping there’s no confidentiality clause.

    Anyway, I don’t blame Ms. Taylor for trying to get paid, I blame ESPN for creating an environment where certain people can get away with behaving however they choose. The fact that they didn’t bend could be considered a ray of hope.

    That being said if NBC wants someone like this on their payroll good luck. You’ve been warned.

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