Olbermann, Patrick reunite for 'Football Night'

NBC highlights show airs on Sundays

NEW YORK -- Former ESPN stars Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick will reunite beginning in September to call highlights for NBC's "Football Night in America" on Sundays.

Olbermann and Patrick are legendary in sports TV for the 5 1/2 years they co-hosted ESPN's signature "SportsCenter," or as they called it back then "The Big Show." It's been 11 years since they were together on TV, with Olbermann leaving for Fox Sports and eventually MSNBC. Patrick left ESPN last year and has been doing a daily sports talk show for Sports Illustrated.

Patrick's deal with NBC Sports includes working on "Football Night in America" and the years that the network has the Super Bowl, as well as covering the Olympics beginning in 2010. Patrick is contractually prevented from working on NFL telecasts and the Olympics in Beijing for a year. NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol had spoken a year ago to ESPN execs about Patrick, and it seemed to be OK.

But Ebersol said that in talking to ESPN chief George Bodenheimer and ESPN executive vp John Skipper, things changed a bit after they realized Patrick would be reuniting with Olbermann. ESPN invoked a contract provision that kept Patrick from working on "They had a right, buried in the boilerplate of the deal, to keep him off of TV for a year, said NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol. Patrick left ESPN last year after 18 years of doing "SportsCenter" and hosting a daily show on ESPN Radio.

Patrick joins an already large cast at "Football Night in America," that includes host Bob Costas and co-hosts Olbermann, Cris Collinsworth and now Patrick as well as contributions from Jerome Bettis, Tiki Barber and Peter King. Costas' role will be reduced a bit as Olbermann and Patrick will take over the majority of the highlights.

"I'll be doing the highlights for the red states, and Keith will be doing the highlights for the blue states," Patrick joked. Patrick said it was Costas' idea to have him join the cast, and Costas had made the suggestion to Ebersol.