By Barry Janoff
July 18, 2013: In 1997, Keith Olbermann left ESPN after five years under what was considered cantankerous and controversial circumstances.
But like the mythological Phoenix, the relationship between Olbermann and the self-proclaimed worldwide leader in sports has risen from the ashes.
ESPN said Wednesday that Olbermann would host a late-night show, simply titled Olbermann, beginning Aug. 26.
“Apart from the opportunity to try to create a nightly hour of sports television that no fan can afford to miss, I'm overwhelmed by the chance to begin anew with ESPN," Olbermann said during a media phone conference to unveil the renewed relationship. "I've been gone for 16 years and not one day in that time has passed without someone connecting me to the network."
The show will air on ESPN 2 with a focus on the "day’s relevant sports topics through a mix of perspective and commentary, interviews, contributors, panel discussions and highlights," according to ESPN.
"They are not restraining me; they don't have to," said Olbermann. "I don't intend to be political in the sense of my previous jobs . . . I know we can't go back and undo everything that happened many years ago in those environs, but I would like to do my best to correct as much of it as I can and I appreciate the fresh start."
After leaving ESPN, Olbermann went on to have stints at NBC, MSNBC and Fox — and actually came back to ESPN Radio in 2005 for a two and a half year stunt.
"Apart from the opportunity to try to create a nightly hour of sports TV that no fan can afford to miss, I'm overwhelmed by the chance to begin anew with ESPN."
The show is scheduled for 11 PM (ET) from ABC's studios in New York's Times Square. However the time is flexible. According to ESPN, "Olbermann will often immediately follow live events on ESPN2, starting with U.S. Open tennis Aug. 26, leading to some flexibility in the show’s start times depending on the length/timing of the events."
Regarding his history with ESPN: "I could apologize 1,000 times and we could get everybody who ever took offense to something I did, and bring them all to one place and we would probably need Yankee Stadium," Olbermann said.