BRISTOL – An ESPN anchor who has been with the company since it launched in 1979 will retire at the end of this month.
Bob Ley, best known for hosting “Outside the Lines” – a program that examines issues on and off the field of play – said Wednesday that it is “time for a change.” He has also hosted SportsCenter and other broadcasts.
“Across 40 years I have enjoyed a professional journey unimaginable when I joined ESPN on its first weekend of existence in 1979,” Ley said in a statement. “Each day since has been a unique adventure, one I embraced for the challenge and unequaled fun of a job like no other.”
Ley, 64, had been on sabbatical leave since September.
“To be clear, this is entirely my decision,” Ley’s statement continued. “I enjoy the best of health, and the many blessings of friends and family, and it is in that context that I’m making this change.”
“The standard of excellence that has become a hallmark of ESPN began in the early days when we were a start-up with a bold vision,” ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement Wednesday. “Bob was there for all of it and, over the years, his unwavering commitment and unparalleled work ethic drove our journalistic ambitions. The best way we can thank Bob for what he’s meant to ESPN and to sports fans is to continue to uphold the journalistic integrity and principles he’s instilled in ESPN for nearly 40 years.”
Ley, a New Jersey native, is married and has two children. He has won multiple Sports Emmy Awards for journalism. He joined ESPN just days after the company’s first broadcast.
Many in the sports journalism field – from both ESPN and other networks and publications – took to social media on Wednesday to pay their respects to the 64-year-old and all that he has accomplished in his career.
Jay Bilas, an ESPN analyst best known for his work in college basketball, called Ley “the most respected voice at ESPN.”
“Bob Ley has always been the conscience of sports journalism,” Bilas continued in a statement on Twitter.
Bill Simmons, who left ESPN in 2015 to found The Ringer, a sports website and podcast network, also tweeted about Ley.
“Congrats to (Bob Ley) on 40 impactful years at ESPN and best of luck with whatever comes next,” Simmons wrote.
“I have been gifted by our viewers and consumers with a precious commodity – your trust,” Ley continued in his statement. “To be invited into your homes was a privilege I never took for granted, one I worked each day to uphold. Thank you for that.”
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.