Late last week, Bruce Feldman ended his indefinite Twitter silence by announcing he was leaving ESPN after 17 years to go to CBS Sports. Even though Feldman had made sporadic appearances around the "family" of networks in Bristol, he was largely silent as a public figure since his July "suspension" at the hands of ESPN corporate suits. Bruce's move from ESPN to CBS was met with widespread approval across the internet as the popular college football writer was finally liberated. CBS touted Feldman's arrival and aptly titled his new column (above) as "Free Bruce." This not only pays homage to the passionate #FreeBruce Twitter campaign that supported Feldman during his summer journey through the abyss, but also the fact that his quality writing is now out from behind the ESPN Insider paywall. Now, common folk like you and I can freely read a freed Bruce Feldman.
At this point, it would seem that everyone can go home happy and the story is finished. The fans, bloggers, and sportswriters that came together behind Bruce Feldman can rejoice at his new CBS job that leaves behind the swampland of conflicts and corporate meddling at ESPN. CBS adds another quality writer to their impressively growing stable of online and network talent. Feldman can finally move on with his career and make a fresh start at a new internet zipcode. And, the mothership in Bristol can move on with their 99.99% indestructible death star, covering up the embarrassment of the Feldman Chronicles with some plywood or something.
But in the words of Lee Corso, not so fast my friend! Bruce Feldman went on The Dan Patrick Show September 1st to unleash his side of the story - calling ESPN's version of the story untruthful. Then he went on Paul Finebaum's show in Alabama to continue dropping pipebombs on his former employer.
Now that Feldman's story is out, the Free Bruce story has further unraveled a complicated web that takes us back to the initial drama of last July. The list of characters involves Feldman, several members of ESPN brass, Brooks, the Poynter Institute as ESPN ombudsman, and of course, Craig James. So now that Bruce is free and everyone's story is finally in the public, what does it all mean? In the spirit of ESPN sage Jim Miller, we're bringing together documented quotes and writings from the involved parties into an oral and written history on Free Bruce for you to decide. Probably because nobody else would be crazy enough to spend their Labor Day weekend doing such a thing. What follows is our creative attempt to provide a complete look at Free Bruce using those statements and writings. The context and ordering of the quotes have been edited by AA to try and best present the story of Free Bruce in this oral/written form. Here's our list of sources:
The original Sports by Brooks report, ESPN's statement in response, Poynter I and Poynter II and the quotes of ESPN execs therein, Tweets from ESPN PR, SI's roundtable thoughts on Craig James, Richard Deitsch's report on Feldman, Feldman's interview with Dan Patrick, and his interview with Paul Finebaum which we transcribed.
Now, the definitive oral and written history of Free Bruce...