ESPN Sought to Undo Ron Jaworski Layoff, But Disney Said They Couldn't


Ron Jaworski was one of the 100 or so talents who were laid off by ESPN this past April. The Big Lead has learned from a person with knowledge of the situation that, as football season approached, ESPN’s NFL team sought to bring back Jaws for the film-study-heavy NFL Matchup show, but was told by their parent company Disney that they could not undo his layoff. Unauthorized to speak publicly on the matter, the person requested anonymity.

In June — about two months after it was announced that he was out from the company — Jaws described himself as being “in limbo,” saying that he “still may continue to work at ESPN,” and that his contract goes until May 31, 2022.

Jaws’ circumstance of having multiple years left on his deal was not altogether uncommon amongst the talents whom ESPN laid off. For tax accounting purposes, Disney opted to swallow all of these future costs on their most recent quarterly earnings, where they described the restructuring qualitatively as “severance and contract termination costs.”

ESPN management would be very quick to dispel notion that Disney has any say in its personnel decisions. This circumstance should not be interpreted as a case of Disney making a decision that they don’t want Jaws on television, but rather one where ESPN had to cut X amount of costs, there was a subsequent tax accounting decision, and Disney enforced austerity to sticking to it.

An ESPN spokesperson and Jaws’ agent declined to comment on this story.