Dan Le Batard’s tenure with ESPN was fraught with battles between the Miami columnist and management as he became one of the network’s most prominent and beloved radio and TV personalities. However, for all the times he butt heads with his corporate bosses, what he did at ESPN was sensational and he leaves behind one of the most impactful legacies the company has ever seen. Monday was his last day with the four-letter, as he moved on to new opportunities with his radio show and left behind Highly Questionable to Bomani Jones and others.
Le Batard helped bring along an entire new crop of ESPN talent, elevating them beyond what they were maybe initially hired to do at the company and offering them a place to be themselves. It’s the thing that Pablo Torre told me when I profiled he and Bomani while they did High Noon, and that influence was clearly felt by so many others as they posted heartfelt messages on Dan’s influence and importance on social media for his final day.
It was an emotional day for Le Batard, particularly with regards to Highly Questionable, the show he started with his father, Papi, and managed to grow into a staple of the ESPN afternoon block. To close his final show, Dan offered a tearful goodbye and heartfelt thanks to everyone that helped make the show a success and for everyone that tuned in to a family show that was, technically, about sports but in reality was so much more.
— Highly Questionable (@HQonESPN) January 4, 2021
It’s clear how much it meant to Dan to be able to do a show with his father and how much he appreciated the opportunities afforded to him at ESPN, even if he didn’t always see eye-to-eye with the people upstairs. The TV show was such a unique take on a sports TV show and was a risk taken by ESPN, one he notes in the video that Papi questioned when they first started. Still, they made it work and now it moves on in the hands of Jones and the cavalcade of up-and-coming stars that Le Batard helped to present to a national audience with HQ and his radio show.
As for the final episode of his radio show on ESPN — as it gets set to move on to a new home — the tone for the final minutes was very different from that emotional Highly Questionable video. It ended as only the Dan Le Batard Show could, with “Freedom” by George Michael playing in full before Greg Cote talked about his toenails, getting cut off by the hard network out with no final goodbyes or anything of the sort.
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 4, 2021
In their own way, they were both perfect in showing the dichotomy of Le Batard and the shows he built.