Laid-Off ESPN Employee Of 26 Years Fights Back On Facebook

Howie Schwab former ESPN trivia expertGetting laid off is tough for any employee. But when you've spent the bulk of your career at one place, it can be deeply wounding. In such cases, the temptation is to lash out.

That was apparently the case when Howie Schwab, sports trivia expert and long-time staffer at ESPN, got laid off late Wednesday in the network's most recent round of cost-cutting. How could you know? Because Schwab (pictured above) announced it on his personal Facebook page late Wednesday and took a jab at his former employer of 26 years. Describing himself as "loyal employee," Schwab wrote:

I am extremely disappointed to say farewell. ... I always did everything asked of me and more. What did I get in return today ... word that I should get lost. The only thing that mattered was my salary, which in my view was the lone reason I lost my job.

According to John Koblin at the blog Deadspin, at least a half-dozen people in addition to Schwab were laid off and five open positions were eliminated. This is on top of a reported hundreds laid off in May, despite the fact that ESPN, owned by Disney, has been called the most valuable media brand, estimated to be worth $40 billion. According to Koblin, ESPN's plan was to lay off the higher-paid veterans and replace them with "younger, cheaper, less experienced people."

But why take a risk of burning bridges by posting such a message on your Facebook page? AOL Jobs caught up with Schwab and asked. "I was contacted by a few different people for a comment and I basically wanted to answer it in just one place," Schwab explained.

More: 'Where Did My Co-Worker Go?' Stealth Layoffs Become Widespread

Schwab also said that he received a "generous severance" and doesn't worry that his statement might hurt his job prospects. Lamenting the fact that "a number of people who had been at ESPN" for decades had been laid off, he said, "These are the difficult decisions that businesses make these days. Spin it any way you want, it's all about money. I feel that I was a model citizen and represented the company well and I was a statistic. The truth is I was a casualty because I made a salary. If Disney wants to be mad at me because I told the truth, hey, it's a small world Donald, Mickey, Minnie."

ESPN refused to comment for this story. During the previous round of layoffs in May, however, the company released a statement, saying, "We are implementing changes across the company to enhance our continued growth while smartly managing costs. While difficult, we are confident that it will make us more competitive, innovative and productive."

On Thursday, there was an outpouring of support for Schwab from his ESPN colleagues. An ESPN public relations person called Schwab, telling him "how much they appreciate me as a friend," Schwab said. An ESPN exec also contacted him and offered support, telling him, "We're still friends and if I can do anything to help, understand it's a business decision, it's not personal.

Schwab says he was up until 5 a.m. responding to all the texts, calls and emails -- and the posts on Facebook and Twitter. Former ESPN The Magazine senior writer Jeff Bradley wrote that he wanted "to puke" because of the layoff. Sports Illustrated writer Richard Deitsch noted a "remarkable outpouring from former (and some current) ESPN-ers ... on Twitter and Facebook." CBS College Football Today host Tim Brando said that everyone else on ESPN "was better because of Howie Schwab." CBS Sports personality Dana Jacobsen called him an "incredibly kind, giving, sweet man ... a good guy."

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The tone of some comments almost sounded like a eulogy. "I'm fine by the way," Schwab said, adding, "Those who thought I'd jump under a bridge should have taken the under" (a reference to betting on how many points will be scored in a game).

Schwab started as a freelance researcher at ESPN in 1985 and then hosted a quiz show, "Stump the Schwab"; he has been on various ESPN shows since. What's next? He says that he's already had discussions about possible positions with other media companies. Until a job offer materializes, though, Schwab said, he plans to keep busy -- watching the CBS soap, "The Young and the Restless."

Seriously?

"I'm a ... diehard fan," Schwab says, "Now I have time."

ESPN To Lay Off 10 Percent of Employees, Report Says


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LaFonte

They need to layoff some of them good for nothing commentators(Skip Bayless).That's where they're wasting money on. Maybe people would take them more serious.

November 12 2013 at 1:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim

ESPN sounded like a good idea at its inception, I wouldn't watch it now for anything. The US Open was ruined for me when Chris Loves his donuts Berman opened his mouth and did the second most disgusting thing he does with it, talked (eating is first). I quit watching. Howie, you're better off, and this treatment after 26 years of your service proves my point. A new door will open for you, keep your eyes open.

June 17 2013 at 11:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gracecfl

This has been happening all over the place. I know somebody who is totally capable, has the experience for a job and had applied at a few places. OK he's 50 years old and has made good salaries. He interviewed and he knew the person for a number of years. When he wasn't hired, the man told him, it's your age and I could never afford to pay you what you are worth. You are what I need, but I can get 3 juniors for your salary who would be happy to work long hours with few benefits and way less pay. Welcome to 2013! That's life in America. Forget experience it's all about the salary and benefits.

June 17 2013 at 9:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
krouti2891

Okay, not to go all hippie or anything, but does it really have to be ALL about money?? Do people just not matter at all anymore, are they completely disposable? If it was all about the salary he was making, why couldn't they talk about possible decreasing his salary to a more realistic number?? This is sad and would be sad for anyone. I can't imagine losing a job I've had for my whole life practically it's like where do you go?

June 17 2013 at 9:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to krouti2891's comment
Jim

Don't go getting emotional, you'll have to hand in your Limbaugh hate card. You repubies only have two speeds off and hate. Don't go getting soft on us, Dole-up on Viagra

June 17 2013 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
drb107

My comment is when a company ask for dedication say oh yes but never give it, never do anything for the company but show up and do your job, nothing extra, say what you want but this will make you feel better when the axe comes down, it was just a job, thats it. Do corporations deserve dedication, young people will find out, older people already know the answer

June 17 2013 at 8:47 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to drb107's comment
Jim

What a joke. Do you REALLY believe that? Giving and loyalty are matters of YOUR heart. It doesn't matter one bit what you get back, that's manipulation, NOT giving. You give because it's in your heart, you are loyal because that's what you stand for. Lying and deceipt are playing THEIR game, surely you can see that.

June 17 2013 at 11:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
michael07

No Sandman, drb is correct. For many people who have long tenures, the folks who hired you, trusted in you, and gave you your chance left. In their place are new managers who are not loyal to you, do not believe in you and only seek to enhance their own standing. I will be loyal to the PERSON who gave me a chance, never to the entity itself. You are the naive joke sir.

June 17 2013 at 2:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
rsticks18

happens in a lot of businesses. when you start to make too much money, better start looking over your shoulderr

June 17 2013 at 8:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rsticks18's comment
Jim

Funny how the reasoning and justification for unions comes out when people speak from the heart. But when people Koch-speak, parrot business BS talking points, oh those unions are destroying America when all they're doing is adding some legality to a for-profit business model that has taken over the human aspect in what used to be a democracy.

June 17 2013 at 11:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
j06

Maybe those ESPN fanboys should cheer this news because they seems to think that channel walks on water, anyway. This is what happens when one company essentially monopolizes the major sports properties. Only the Olympics and the NHL completely escape their grasp. Not that I like NBC all that much, either, but at least it's competition.

Let's see how Fox can reduce them even more in size.

June 17 2013 at 3:26 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Steve

Is this surprising? Just ask many well-known broadcast journalists who worked previously at CBS News, ABC News, NBC News plus those News operations on cable televison. It comes with the territory.

June 16 2013 at 11:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ralphhale3

...'understand it's a business decision, it's not personal." ANYONE who uses the lame 'it's just business' line is a COWARD. It's alway personal. We're talking about people here. People with lives, who've done the job well, only to have some one who still has their job (despite their oft times lack of competence), kick your ass out to hire younger, cheaper less productive employees. Upper -mid to upper management personnel have no courage, no cajones to stand by the process and people that they have developed, and managed. What a friggin country.

June 16 2013 at 8:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ralphhale3's comment
wlh1923

We're actually talking about the only country in the world where a guy can earn a high six figure income as a sports trivia "expert" for 26 f....ing years and then when the gig is over complain. This isn't about courage, cajones, cowards or whatever else you seem to think the problem is. It is about a guy being paid as a sports trivia expert for 26 years. This is the only country in the world with yahoos like you rip the employer when the sports trivia millionaire is finally downsized. WTF is wrong with people like YOU? Seriously dude.

June 16 2013 at 9:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
phil

I don't know what he was paid or how much his severance package is but I do know he likely makes more than most. If he has talent then someone will pick him up at some point.

June 16 2013 at 8:36 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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