Fantasy Football Guru Matthew Berry Suddenly Announces He’s Leaving ESPN, Is Amazon or The Ringer Next?
In the last 20 years or so, fantasy football has gone from a favorite pastime of football nerds to a multibillion-dollar industry. While many factors have contributed to this incredible explosion, no single person is more responsible for the growth in popularity than ESPN fantasy analyst Matthew Berry. Now, with Week 1 kickoff just eight weeks away and 2022 fantasy football drafts starting soon, Berry announced he’s leaving the sports media giant. Could a move to Amazon or his pal Bill Simmons’ The Ringer be next?
From fantasy football player to fantasy football guru
ESPN fantasy football guru Matthew Berry is the face of the modern fantasy sports boom. The writer/analyst/podcaster grew up in College Station, Texas, the son of Texas A&M professors, and attended Syracuse University.
After college, he moved to LA and became a screenwriter. Berry’s credits include working on the movie Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles and the TV show Married… with Children.
As an avid fantasy player since his teenage years, Berry started writing internet fantasy columns and started his own sites, RotoPass.com and TalentedMrRoto.com, as side projects.
As fantasy football began to grow, ESPN hired the talented writer in 2007. In the next decade-and-a-half, fantasy football exploded, and Berry was riding the crest of the wave.
ESPN’s fantasy football coverage now includes more than a dozen writers and analysts. People like Stephania Bell, Mike Clay, Tristan H. Cockcroft, Daniel Dopp, Eric Karabell, Keith Lipscomb, Eric Moody, and Field Yates have become household names for fantasy football enthusiasts.
However, Berry remained the top-dog on the ESPN fantasy scene.
His annual rankings, mock drafts, and columns like Draft-Day Manifesto and Love/Hate have become must-reads for fantasy football players.
While becoming (probably) the world’s No. 1 fantasy analyst, Berry also wrote a bestselling book, Fantasy Life, and created the Fantasy Life app.
Matthew Berry leaving ESPN
Seemingly out of nowhere, Matthew Berry announced that the week of July 11, 2022, would be his last at ESPN. Berry tweeted:
Here is a sentence I never thought I’d write. I can confirm that after 15 amazing years, I am leaving ESPN. When I came to the company in 2007, fantasy football was a niche of a niche, and ESPN was way behind the market leader. And now, many years later, I am so incredibly proud of all the work we have done together to bring fantasy football into the mainstream, and, specifically, make ESPN the leading game and content destination for fantasy players everywhere.Matthew Berry announcing he’s leaving ESPN
Shortly after, ESPN PR tweeted, “Matthew Berry expressed a desire to explore new opportunities beyond ESPN” and wished him luck “in his next endeavor.”
Underneath his initial announcement, “The Talented Mr. Roto,” wrote, “I’m really excited about the future but there will [be] plenty of time to talk about that before the season.”
So, what is next for Berry?
Where is Berry going next?
Now, the (likely) multimillion-dollar question is, where is Matthew Berry going next?
While no information is publicly available as of Monday afternoon, several options would make sense.
Berry has always been an entrepreneurial spirit in the fantasy football space, launching websites and apps. There is a strong chance that Berry goes it alone and creates his own fantasy football empire. This would be similar to what his friend Bill Simmons did, leaving ESPN to start The Ringer.
Speaking of Simmons, now that The Ringer has Spotify’s billions behind it, it wouldn’t be a shock if Berry moved over to his old Beverly Hills 90210-loving pal’s platform. Simmons has already poached podcast host Ryen Russillo and plenty of other talents from The Worldwide Leader.
If it’s purely a money play for Berry, he could go work for one of the sports betting/daily fantasy giants like DraftKings or FanDuel. These companies have tried to poach established football-related talent in the past (Adam Schefter, Ian Rapoport), and Berry would be a perfect fit.
However, the pro football media player with more money than all these outfits is Amazon. The Amazon Prime streaming service is taking over Thursday Night Football starting this season and is already putting together a star-studded studio team. Poaching the Godfather of fantasy football would be a major move for Jeff Bezos’ platform.
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