For many years, most us who turned into ESPN’s coverage of the NFL usually received Dallas Cowboys updates from Ed Werder. He was a recognizable face with the likes of Sal Paolantonio, Ron Jaworski and Merril Hodge. Werder was among those 100-plus people to be laid off last week and he told the Doomsday Podcast how it went down.
“I got a text message to call my boss, who’s in charge of the NFL project at ESPN,” Werder said. “So I did that, and I did that knowing under the circumstances that unbelievably that meant I was going to get laid off. And that is what transpired. My boss had a human resources person in the room. And that just verifies for all certainty that you’re going to be laid off.”
Werder said he first became concerned for his job when Chris Mortensen alerted him to the layoffs and that performance was not going to matter.
“Here’s why I was concerned: Our good friend Mort, who was a good friend, after the season had told me that his understanding was these cuts were going to be made and the quality of work was not going to be a consideration,” Werder said. “It seemed to me that quality work should be the only consideration. If it’s not any part of the consideration, then I kind of find myself a little vulnerable under that criteria.”
It seems like a ton of people were blindsided by the cuts. Werder mentioned a couple of other names, including Hodge and Jaws, who were laid off but did not come out publicly about it. He also questioned the direction of the media company.
“It causes me to wonder what is ESPN about because I thought it was about news and information and highlights, and I’m not sure that is the point of emphasis anymore,” Werder said. “How is ESPN going to cover the NFL without all of the people who just lost their jobs? What happens without Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski to ‘NFL Matchup’? What happens to ‘NFL Insiders’ without a number of analysts, former general managers like Joe Banner and Mark Dominik? Are we really about to see a time when ESPN can no longer afford to cover its most valuable property in the way that historically it has?”