After months of speculation that they could be lured by gambling companies with deep pockets, both Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski agreed to multiyear extensions with ESPN last week. It was a litmus test moment for the industry and for the time being, traditional outlets seem to have battened down the hatches against outside poachers.
Schefter spoke about his decision to NBC Sports' Peter King, revealing that comfort was a major consideration. “The media landscape is shifting fast,” Schefter said. “In the end, I felt more comfortable being in a traditional media world.”
King reports that the NFL insider made up his mind about a month ago at a breakfast with ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro.“Within three minutes of sitting down,” Schefter said, “I thought to myself, I can’t leave this guy. He was likeable, relatable, a regular guy. I felt right then I had clarity. A burden was lifted. I knew I wanted to stay.”
It is quite obviously a huge win for ESPN to keep Schefter. He is still the standard-bearer when it comes to NFL news and his personality has driven passions both positively and negatively over the past few years. He can ensure the entire conversation — from news break to hot takes — are happening on the network's platforms.
Conversely, one can see the value of being at ESPN through this whole process. We're unclear what else was offered, even if King alludes to Schefter leaving a lot of money on the table by staying put.
One thing unspoken and perhaps not relevant but is still somewhat interesting: there's a perception that the sportsbooks have yet to figure out exactly how they would use these insiders in a way that is mutually beneficial. Obviously having their news-gathering become a proprietary tool is the goal but social media is so fast to disperse any nugget that even a paywall isn't a real obstacle.
It's possible the gambling companies are simply a year away like a young team. It's also possible they'll never figure out how to integrate the Schefters of the world.