Rachel Nichols Left ESPN and Ultimately Became the Reporter She Is Today

One of the most well-known media personalities in sports over the years has been Rachel Nichols of ESPN. She hosts The Jump but also appears on other ESPN shows as well. However, Nichols hasn’t always been at ESPN. She actually left the network in 2013 to move to CNN. In fact, her decision to leave ESPN ultimately made her the superstar broadcaster and reporter she is today.

Rachel Nichols has worked at ESPN for years

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Prior to joining ESPN, Nichols worked for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel from 1995 to 1996 and The Washington Post from 1996 to 2004. She then began working at ESPN in 2004.

During her first stint at ESPN, Nichols covered Brett Favre extensively. She also covered breaking news and some big-time events, and even conducted high-profile interviews, according to her bio on ESPN Press Room. Viewers ultimately watched Nichols on shows like SportsCenter, Outside the Lines, and NFL Countdown. She also did some sideline reporting on Monday Night Football.

However, she eventually left ESPN in 2013, and moved to CNN and Turner Sports. Nichols covered the NBA and the NCAA Tournament while she was there, and was also a CNN studio analyst. This is in addition to having her own show, Unguarded with Rachel Nichols.

In 2016, though, Nichols returned to ESPN, and now hosts The Jump, a daily show that focuses on the NBA. She also contributes to SportsCenter and sometimes hosts Outside the Lines, according to ESPN Press Room.

However, her decision to leave ESPN back in 2013 made her the journalist and broadcaster she is today.

Rachel Nichols became a star at CNN

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Nichols left ESPN and joined CNN in 2013. While she was there, she gained the respect of a lot of people for not being afraid to ask tough questions.

In fact, in 2014, she didn’t let NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell get off easy, as she asked the important questions everyone wanted answers to.

“You mentioned on TV last week that you tried to get the Ray Rice video and any information,” Nichols said to Goodell, according to For The Win, referring to former Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice, who had previously been arrested following an alleged exchange with his fiancée. “The Atlantic City prosecutors office in an open records check says they don’t have any electronic communication from the NFL asking for those kinds of documentation or the video. Can you give us sort of the trail of how you guys did that investigation so people can know really what you put into it?”

This also came after she confronted Floyd Mayweather on TV, asking him about his domestic violence issues.

“You are someone with a history of domestic violence yourself; you’ve even been to jail for it,” Nichols said to Mayweather on Unguarded with Rachel Nichols. “Why should fans root for you with this kind of history?”

Asking tough questions and being prepared while doing it helped Nichols gain the respect of her colleagues. It also ultimately made her the broadcaster and journalist she is today.

Rachel Nichols is who she is because of her decision to leave ESPN

Rachel Nichols is a star at ESPN. However, her decision to leave the network and go to CNN made her the reporter she is today.
ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols speaks onstage at ‘The New Church: Sport as Currency of American Life’ during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival. | Amy E. Price/Getty Images for SXSW

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Nichols’ time at CNN put her right in the middle of big conversations about important issues. GQ even wrote that “many people would point to [the Floyd Mayweather interview] as a defining moment for her career so far.” The Washington Post also wrote that, “she earned kudos for her stellar work on the NFL’s 2014 domestic violence crisis. Nichols was widely praised grilling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (and boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.) on the topic.”

Nichols did ultimately choose to leave CNN and return to ESPN in 2016, though, but she seems to understand that the work she did at CNN meant a lot to her career.

“Over the last three years, developing a voice and being part of the national conversation on the big topic of the day is important,” Nichols said in 2016, according to The Washington Post. “To be part of that is thrilling. … One reason to return [to ESPN] is the voice I’ve created.”

Despite finding so much success at CNN, Nichols seemed excited to return to ESPN, the network she had spent nearly a decade at. “This is a great gig,” she said in 2016, according to The Washington Post. “I get to go on TV every day and talk about a sport I love.” The decision has been a good one, too, as she is one of ESPN’s primary faces for its NBA coverage.

Rachel Nichols is excellent at what she does. Her work at CNN ultimately showcased her abilities, too, which also, in turn, made her the reporter and broadcaster she is today.