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REVISITED: ESPN Celebrates 40th In Style With Company Founder and Icons

As ESPN celebrates its 41st anniversary today, Front Row revisits this post from September 2019 that was part of our ESPN at 40 celebration

EDITOR’S NOTE: In celebration of ESPN’s 41st birthday today, Sept. 7, 2020, Front Row revisits this post from Sept. 2019 that was part of our ESPN at 40 celebration. Read more ESPN AT 40 content from 2019.

BRISTOL, Conn. – On the eve of the company’s 40th anniversary, ESPN celebrated its iconic past and looked forward to an ever-evolving future in a Friday celebration held at its headquarters (the actual anniversary is Sept.7).

On hand were very special guests from ESPN’s past and present, headlined by ESPN Founder Bill Rasmussen, original anchor George Grande, former ESPN President George Bodenheimer, Chris Berman, Suzy Kolber, Bob Ley, Dan Patrick, Robin Roberts and Mike Tirico, the six of whom – with a combined 164 years of ESPN experience – participated in a lively and revealing “Game Changers” panel led by current SportsCenter anchor Elle Duncan.

With more than 800 employees in attendance on-site and a livestream for those in outer offices, ESPN President, Co-Chair Disney Media Networks Jimmy Pitaro kicked off the multi-hour “Town Hall” by debuting a specially-produced 40th anniversary video, saying it “perfectly captures who we are and what we do.

“Our mission is: TO SERVE SPORTS FANS. ANYTIME. ANYWHERE,” Pitaro said. “It’s a constant reminder that ESPN is the place of record for sports fans. . . and a place where fans come together to celebrate the sports, the teams and the players they love.

“Today,” he said, “we’ll reflect on our past, celebrate the present and embrace our future.”

Front Row brings you this exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the emotional, fun-filled day and welcome all of you to celebrate this milestone as we thank you for being a fan:

“There’s a difference with ESPN at its core in the way WE serve the sports fan and in how the facts matter and the content matters and that’s what really comes first here.” – Suzy Kolber, seen here speaking to ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen.

(Melissa Rawlins/ESPN Images)

“Only on days like this do we take the time to reflect. Because when you’re in it, you are so busy doing it at every stage of the game, if you stop to read the press clippings, you will get run over by the truck behind you.” – Bob Ley, who joined ESPN on its third day of existence.

(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

“I think what built this place is the camaraderie. It is the people who are behind the scenes who really should be celebrated today. I just valued those relationships and I still do and it’s not lost on me. You’re only as good and as strong as the core. We get the credit but it’s the people behind the scenes that make this place run and never ever forget it.” – Dan Patrick (R), with Mike Tirico during the 45 minute panel discussion.

(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

“For all of us getting Monday Night Football was something different. I remember my mom telling me, ‘I don’t have to explain to anyone else what my son does.’ That was a diamond jewel of TV coming to ESPN. The pride we had that night in 2006 exemplifies everything this place is about.” – Mike Tirico

(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

“ESPN will always be part of my DNA and being back here it’s like no time has passed. In 1990 when I came here there were very few women on TV doing sports, even fewer women of color. I was the first woman of color to do SportsCenter and why I appreciate it is no one ever made me feel that way. I didn’t even know that until I read the press clippings. That’s not why I was hired.” – Robin Roberts, with Bob Ley, who recently retired from ESPN and was credited by Kolber for having “set the bar for Journalism here.”

(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

“I’ll quote the Eagles: ‘You can check out [of ESPN] any time you like, but you can never leave.” – Chris Berman, here (L-R) with Tirico, Kolber, Patrick,  Roberts and Bob Ley

(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

“Today, we’ll reflect on our past, celebrate the present and embrace our future.” – ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro to employees on the occasion of ESPN’s 40th anniversary.

(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

Prior to adjourning to a street fair/party on the ESPN campus, employees were treated to two video remakes from a song that debuted right around the time ESPN did – “Rapper’s Delight” (see music videos below).

(Melissa Rawlins/ESPN Images)

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