Bob Ley announces retirement from ESPN in heartfelt Twitter statement

Legendary sports anchor Bob Ley announced his plans to retire from ESPN at the end of the month in a heartfelt statement on Twitter on Wednesday.
The Outside the Lines host and longtime ESPN broadcaster — he joined ESPN in 1979, the year the network launched — explained that this was “entirely” his decision, and it’s not as the result of any health problems but rather because he’s in good health.
Ley, who is 64, announced late last summer that he planned to take a six-month sabbatical starting in October, but he has not returned to Outside the Lines since he began his break, ESPN confirmed. He is ESPN’s longest tenured anchor after starting with the company on September 9, 1979, and he’s won 11 Emmy Awards.

Too many folks to thank individually, right now, but know that I have you all in my mind and my heart. Some news to share: pic.twitter.com/Qydhpcy4MV
— Bob Ley (@BobLeyESPN) June 26, 2019

Ley wrote in his statement on Twitter:
Across 40 years I have enjoyed a professional journey unimaginable when I joined ESPN on its first weekend of existence in 1979. Each day since has been a unique adventure, one I embraced for the challenge and unequaled fun of a job like no other.
Now, it is time for change.
I will be retiring from ESPN, as of the end of the month.
To be clear, this is entirely my decision. 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.
To Jimmy Pitaro and his senior leadership team, my sincere personal thanks for their understanding and patience over the past months.
Through the decades, and my innumerable experiences at ESPN, I have built many deep and fulfilling friendships. You know who you are. I hope you also know how much you mean to me. We have shared an American story unlike any other. And we will continue to do so in the years ahead.
I have been gifted by our viewers and consumers with a precious commodity – your trust. 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.
In September, I signed off my last show saying, “I’ll catch you on the flip side.” Now it’s time to take that vinyl off the turntable (ask your folks), flip it over, and drop the needle on the B-side. There are always great cuts, and hidden gems on the B-side.
Thank you for a great run.  
Ley was the original host of Outside the Lines when the show debuted in 1990 as ESPN’s first investigative news program. Throughout the last 40 years, his coverage ranged from Pete Rose’s suspension from MLB to the O.J. Simpson trial to CTE and the NFL to the Penn State and Michigan State sexual abuse scandals.
Going forward, Ryan Smith and Jeremy Schaap “will handle the bulk of anchoring duties” on OTL, network executive Norby Williamson said in a statement. Here is a statement from ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro on Ley’s impact on the network and journalism over the course of the last four decades:

ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro on Bob Ley's announcement pic.twitter.com/aMxTKFPXht
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) June 26, 2019

People in the sports world reacted to Ley’s announcement praising his work ethic and talent, and some shared their memories of what it was like to work with him.

One of the greatest to ever to do it and a role model for an entire industry. Congratulations Bob. https://t.co/1Yei1Hq0iW
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 26, 2019

I’m crying a thug tear. You are the gold standard in this profession. It was a honor being your colleague and I always appreciated your encouragement. https://t.co/bzgO14ZbiX
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) June 26, 2019

I am stunned to hear @BobLeyESPN has retired / he is as good as it gets @espn / Bob & HoFer Jim Simpson were vital in helping me in making transition to TV / wish Bob the BEST & simply say thnx buddy for always being there for me . GOD BLESS! pic.twitter.com/6VqlnHz79y
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) June 26, 2019

One of the most supportive colleagues I’ve ever had—and a cool and hilarious guy to boot. I’ve missed seeing him on set, and I miss seeing him around even more. https://t.co/SsupXCp1na
— Seth Wickersham (@SethWickersham) June 26, 2019

An absolute legend https://t.co/0NrpKDURW0
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 26, 2019

coolest man at the operation. in many ways, outside the lines jumped my career off, largely due to the indulgence of bob ley. https://t.co/XXFzP73LlU
— bomani (@bomani_jones) June 26, 2019

Joining Outside the Lines was one of my career highlights when working at ESPN because it was such an honor to work with Bob. What a shining example for all of us in how to operate. https://t.co/9ytSyOAJDu
— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) June 26, 2019

The acclaimed sports journalism professor Sandy Padwe — who worked at the NYT, SI, Newsday and eventually as a consultant for Outside the Lines — called Bob Ley the "conscience" of ESPN.
ESPN is already a different place but it will truly be a different place without Ley.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) June 26, 2019

Congrats to one of the best the industry has ever seen. A pro’s pro. Just tough because journalism needs guys like Bob Ley now more than ever. https://t.co/E47Hu9SI0A
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) June 26, 2019

One of the most respected colleagues I’ve ever known. Bob Ley did journalism proud. Enjoy your life, my friend. https://t.co/beoN5MFBMS
— Ed Werder (@EdwerderRFA) June 26, 2019

Legend. Someone who makes me strive to tell the better story and take a smart approach to the reporting. Plus, he likes the Velvet Underground!Thank you and congratulations, Mr. Ley. https://t.co/aQzrVhy6SX
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) June 26, 2019

Dan told a story yesterday on air. When he was 26 and trying to get a good job in sports media, he sent a tape and letter to Bob Ley. Bob was nice enough to mail back to Dan a page-and-a-half of notes and advice. A few years later Dan was on Sports Center with Bob Ley. https://t.co/CWrEhENt6d
— Paul Pabst (@PaulPabst) June 26, 2019

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