ESPN Wants To Silence Olbermann's Commentary

ESPN wants to do what no one has been able to do.... shut Keith Olbermann up. And the reason is because the network is scared to death the NFL.

The Hollywood Reporter says that ESPN and Keith Olbermann may be headed toward a tough negotiation to keep the outspoken host on the sports network. Word is that that ESPN has floated a highly problematic condition for an extension of Olbermann's initial two-year deal: that he cease engaging in “commentary” on his ESPN2 program.

The issue likely stems from Olbermann's critical assessment of the NFL's handling of the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal that exploded last summer when an elevator video of Rice punching then-fiancee Janay Palmer in the face surfaced after the NFL had imposed a slap-on-the-wrist, two-game suspension on the Baltimore Ravens star running back. Olbermann repeatedly hammered NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. In a lengthy commentary at the top of his Aug. 1 broadcast, he called on the commissioner to “resign” after what Olbermann described as a “weak, damaging and almost enabling reaction” to the episode.

The NFL has been pilloried throughout the media — and also faced pressure from advertisers — for its handling of a string of violent incidents involving its players. ESPN's highly regarded investigative series Outside the Lines was a leader in reporting on the scandal.

Olbermann is not the only ESPN personality who has been critical of Goodell and the league. Bill Simmons' profane criticism of Goodell was likely the tipping point for his departure from the network after 15 years, during which Simmons built the online site Grantland and also co-created the award-winning documentary series 30 for 30.