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Buried down in a Deadspin piece on the fate of The Undefeated—ESPN’s so-called “Black Grantland” site—is this little bombshell: The sports network may be trying to poach Washington Post Managing Editor Kevin Merida.
From the story:
As EICs, [Bill] Simmons and [Jason] Whitlock were polar opposites, but both of their problems stemmed from hubris. They were both writers—what ESPN calls “talent”—and so [John] Skipper decreed that ESPN would no longer permit talent to run Grantland or The Undefeated. [Howard] Bryant is a columnist for ESPN: The Magazine—talent—and so he’s disqualified from the EIC post regardless of his potential. (Multiple sources have told Deadspin that one man Skipper is pursuing for the role is Kevin Merida, managing editor of the Washington Post. Merida is interested; he met with Skipper in Los Angeles last month, and according to a source, he’s been quietly asking if some of his favorite Post employees would be open to following him to ESPN.)
One Post staffer tells City Paper that the rumors have been floating around the newsroom for days.
There are Post connections all around with the project, which booted former columnist Jason Whitlock from the helm earlier this year. For a while, it looked like former Pigskins beat writer Howard Bryant, who left the Post in 2007 for ESPN, would take over. And of course columnist Mike Wise was hired away almost a year ago and has written very little as the site has languished. His four Undefeated bylines are on the site’s single page.
One of Executive Editor Marty Baron‘s first acts at the Post was to promote Merida to managing editor in early 2013 after eight years running the national desk. I’ve emailed Merida for comment on the piece.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery