Inside Bob Iger’s Role Behind ESPN President’s Shocking Exit

The author of an oral history of ESPN looks into John Skipper's sudden departure.

john skipper
ESPN President John Skipper addresses the audience at the espnW: Women + Sports Summit. (Mpu Dinani/Getty Images)
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When John Skipper suddenly left his position as ESPN President in December, he cited “substance addiction” as his reason for stepping down. However, James Andrew Miller, author of Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, thinks that there may be a different story beyond the headlines. Miller says that no one, not even Skipper’s closest connections at the network, knew his departure was coming and few, if any, knew he had a “substance addiction issue.” Miller also said that it is inconceivable that Skipper would stand in front of hundreds of his employees on Dec. 13 and lay out an infectious and enthusiastic blueprint for the future of the company if he knew he was leaving in just five days. He could have stepped down for a few months while he got help and then re-emerged as a hero. Miller also writes that Skipper would not have created a new hierarchy for ESPN just months ago if he had any thought of leaving in the near term, because the new structure was topped off by people who all had a learning curve. Meanwhile, in the aftermath of Disney’s Dec. 14 announcement that it will acquire significant parts of 21st Century Fox, Bob Iger said he will stay at Disney through 2021.

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