ESPN's Patrick becomes free agent


Dan Patrick, half of the duo that helped bring "SportsCenter" to fame in the 1990s, will leave ESPN next month after 18 years at the network.

Patrick said Monday that for the past three years at ESPN, he felt like he was "running in quicksand" and had talked to management about doing other things beyond his TV work and hosting the weekday "The Big Show" on ESPN Radio.

"I felt like I was doing assembly-line work, and I really wasn't doing anything I was proud of," Patrick said.

Patrick said he told ESPN management of his feelings and suggested that he might need a change of scenery, telling them, "I don't want to get to the point where I'm not enjoying what I'm doing here." They agreed to meet after the NBA Finals, when Patrick reiterated his feelings and made the decision to leave.

Patrick isn't sure what he will be doing in the future, though he would like to do either TV or radio or both. He said he is appreciative of what ESPN has done for him and that he was grateful for the opportunity and the five years he worked with Keith Olbermann on "SportsCenter." It was a chance "to do what I thought was a little different and do it in a way that I was really proud of," Patrick said.

Patrick was a "SportsCenter" anchor from 1989-2006 as ESPN's signature show became synonymous with sports TV. And along with Olbermann, Patrick rocketed to fame as the face of ESPN and served as models for the short-lived ABC series "Sports Night."

Patrick's last week on the radio will feature his greatest hits. He started the radio show in 1999 from Bristol, Conn., and also had been studio host of "NBA Countdown" on ABC for the broadcast network's NBA games, including the Finals. He was a sports/anchor reporter for CNN from 1983-89 and won a Sports Emmy in 1998 as studio host.

He's looking forward to spending some time at home while deciding on the next phase of his career. His children are ages 9-15.

"I've been gone a long time, I did second shift and I felt like I had to reintroduce myself to them," Patrick said. He said he doesn't know what to expect among offers as he has "never been a free agent before."