Bomani Jones Questions His Future at ESPN Because He’s ‘Not Stephen A. Smith’
ESPN does a great job of marketing some of its biggest stars. However, if you’re not one of their sports media superstars, your future with the network is not 100% certain. That seems to be how Bomani Jones feels. Jones has had an excellent tenure at ESPN. He is one of the most recognizable faces — and voices — around. He isn’t quite as famous as personalities like First Take‘s Stephen A. Smith, though. This has led to Jones questioning his future with the network.
Bomani Jones started working for ESPN in 2004
According to ESPN Press Room, Bomani Jones has been writing and commentating for ESPN since 2004. He then later became a regular personality on the famous show, Around the Horn.
Jones eventually started working full-time for ESPN in 2013, according to The Washington Post, as he became a co-host on Highly Questionable with Dan Le Batard. Jones eventually hosted an ESPN radio show as well.
In 2018, though, Jones got his own TV show with Pablo Torre, as the two co-hosted High Noon. While they certainly discussed sports, Jones and Torre also discussed politics and race. The Washington Post reported that Jones and Torre received greater than $3 million a year combined to do their show. However, ESPN later canceled High Noon after two years. The cancellation, in part, had to do with the network’s president switching from John Skipper to Jimmy Pitaro.
According to The Washington Post, Pitaro “declared ESPN would extricate itself from the Trump-fueled culture wars and prioritize relationships with leagues such as the NFL.”
He re-signed with the network in 2020 after questioning his future
Jones is known for discussing racial issues and standing up for Black athletes and other minorities in sports. Jemele Hill and Michael Smith also did that at ESPN, most notably on their show SC6, but they both ended up leaving the network.
ESPN has also parted ways with many other popular personalities within the past year. This includes guys like Trey Wingo and Dan Le Batard, who had been some of the most prominent faces at the network for years. This all made Jones’ future unclear.
In July 2020, though, after Jones’ voice had become in high demand during the George Floyd protests, ESPN announced that Jones signed a multi-year extension.
“I’m thrilled to continue my tenure at ESPN,” Jones said at the time, according to ESPN Press Room. “(His podcast) The Right Time is growing, and the ability to share my voice on many shows and platforms is exciting in this moment.”
ESPN executive VP Norby Williamson also praised Jones.
“Bomani’s voice is impactful and resonates across platforms,” he said, according to ESPN Press Room. “He is an important member of our team and we are very happy he will continue to help us serve sports fans.”
Since Jones no longer hosts High Noon, though, he ultimately took a pay cut, according to The Washington Post.
Bomani Jones questions his future at ESPN because he’s ‘not Stephen. A Smith’
Jones appears on some of the network’s TV shows from time to time and has his own podcast, which he records twice a week. He hasn’t been as much in demand, though, as he was during the summer when Americans were having powerful racial discussions on a daily basis.
This has led to him questioning his future with the network.
“I don’t know — for this entire industry, not just ESPN,” Jones said, according to The Washington Post. “I don’t know what the paradigm is going to be for guys on television talking about sports if you’re not Stephen A. Smith.”
According to The Washington Post, Jones has shown an interest in replacing Le Batard as the full-time host for Highly Questionable, but ESPN is having several hosts rotate those duties for now. He could also maybe do a show on ESPN Plus, the network’s streaming platform. Additionally, Meadowlark — Le Batard’s new media company — has also reportedly approached Jones, as his ESPN contract is until 2022. Nothing is certain, though.
He, however, is not the only one with an uncertain future.
“If you’re not on SportsCenter, First Take, or PTI you don’t have any job security at ESPN,” a former ESPN executive said to The Washington Post.
No matter what is in store for Jones’ future, though, he still knows that ESPN is the place to be.
“ESPN is still the number one place in the game to be if what you want to do is talk about sports,” Jones said, according to The Washington Post.
With all of ESPN’s recent departures, even dating back to guys like Skip Bayless and Colin Cowherd, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for Bomani Jones. ESPN is a powerhouse, but the industry is constantly changing.
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