Which Personalities Could ESPN Fire During Upcoming Layoffs?

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ESPN is bracing for a round of layoffs as part of a larger strategy from Disney CEO Bob Iger. The cuts are expected to hit both on-air personalities and executives.

Iger earlier this year announced plans to cut 7,000 jobs and $5.5 billion in costs, amid pressure to turn a profit from its global streaming business and a less than stellar past fiscal year.

ESPN host Stephen A. Smith confirmed the layoffs on his podcast last week:

“Have you all been paying attention to the business landscape? Disney itself announced that over 7,000 employees are going to be let go,” said Smith. “ESPN is under the Disney umbrella. They’re going to have cuts coming. 

“Hell, for all I know, I might be one of them. Now I doubt that. But it’s possible. No one knows.”

His statement is facetious. ESPN is not going to lay off Stephen A. Smith. He’s the biggest star at the network. He is among the only singular personalities in the company.

But which personalities could ESPN cut?

Think white males.

In 2017, ESPN laid off 250 individuals including notable on-air faces like Danny Kanell, Marc Stein, Ron Jaworski, Ed Werder, and Trent Dilfer.

The cut list consisted almost exclusively of white guys.

As was the case during the layoffs in 2015, as author Jim Miller noted at the time:

And that was before the events of the racial reckoning, which ESPN upheld in 2020.

So don’t expect the network to dismiss Mark Jones, Bomani Jones, or Kendrick Perkins — three personalities who continuously damage the remaining respect of the brand without any return on the investment.

Imagine the racism Perkins would spew if any of his white bosses fired him. #PRIVILEGE. #CARRYTHEHELLON.

Anyone with the race card at their disposal is safe.

Like Mina Kimes. The social media backlash for canning the leading sacred cow in sports media would be too fierce for ESPN to endure.

Mina Kimes is also a victim. Haven’t you heard? If not, she hopes to tell you about it.

Along with Stephen A. Smith and the race-card carriers, there are other individuals we can all but confirm ESPN will not cut.

ESPN Unlikely To Axe Big Names

First, the network is not parting ways with Scott Van Pelt.

SVP leads the network’s bumper programming following its marquee properties, from Monday Night Football to the College Football National Championship to the NBA Conference Finals.

ESPN sees SVP as indispensable.

As it does its leading newsbreakers Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski, both of whom the company re-signed for nearly $10 million a year in 2022,

Likewise, MNF commentators Troy Aikman and Joe Buck signed contracts for salaries of $18 million and $15 million, respectively, a year ago.

Kendrick Perkins Runs A Multi-Million Dollar Dog Breeding Business
The face of privilege.

Kirk Herbstreit should also be safe.

Herbstreit is one of the few recognizable ESPN talents that remain. He’s invaluable to GameDay and in the booth during the College Football Playoffs.

The final name we expect to be off-limits — among the white dudes — is Mike Greenberg.

Greenberg is the best studio host the brand employs. His value exceeds hosting the daily morning program. He now leads the NFL Draft and NBA Countdown, where he’s an observable improvement over his predecessors.

Other than that, any white guy could get the boot. Projections are that ominous at ESPN.

Moreover, most ESPN talents are replaceable. Its years of employing the most notable names in the industry are no longer.

Today, leading sports media stars work elsewhere. Be it Pat McAfee, Dave Portnoy, Big Cat, Bill Simmons, Colin Cowherd, Skip Bayless, Charissa Thompson, Charles Barkley, or Tony Romo.

ESPN expects to finalize layoffs in the coming month.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack is a writer for OutKick where he reports and analyzes the latest topics in media, culture, sports, and politics..

Burack has become a prominent voice in media and has been featured on several shows across OutKick and industry related podcasts and radio stations.


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  1. Other than SVP, I wasn’t aware ESPN still had any more “white guys”. I thought they had cleaned them all out 4-5 years ago. Who Knew?

    Pretty soon they will all be gone from commercials during sports events too.

  2. The Jones boys have to go. Woj makes $10mm a year?? That is insane. Now there is ESPNs problem. I wouldn’t pay that hack $1mm. I have a hard time believing he creates economic value close to justifying his contract. I don’t know how media metrics work regarding pay, but in my line of business a multiple of 20-25x is warranted. So Woj would have to generate $200mm + in revenue. I don’t think so.

  3. Outkick should start their own pool of whose going to get fired at ESPN, like they do with the woke tourney. Certainly, the top seeds (1-4) in each “region” would be white. That automatically means that JJ Redick should be nervous (if he isn`t already). Rex Ryan and Orlovsky would be good candidates also. Come to think of it a lot of the hockey guys may want to get the demo tapes out there also. If Bomani Jones and Perkins still have jobs after the bloodbath, that will erase any doubt.

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