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Legendary Director Chip Dean bids farewell, thanks his teammates and shares memories

One of ESPN's "79ers" writes in a letter to his teammates: ". . . I am proud to say that we told stories and painted pictures that will stand the test of time."

EDITOR’S NOTE: An original 1979er and among ESPN’s most-tenured employees, coordinating director Chip Dean joined ESPN just two months after the original network launch. Last week, Chip penned his final messages to his ESPN teammates after more than 40 years of steering ESPN’s content course and developing its next generation of directors. Below, this legendary director shares memories about his ESPN career.

To my ESPN family,

I find the most appropriate word to describe my journey at ESPN is “blessed.” And, quite a journey it has been. It all started 41 years ago when I walked into the SportsCenter newsroom.

As a 24-year-old and coming from a small cable station, ESPN was my dream come true.

And so it began back in 1979 on a 2:30 a.m. ET SportsCenter hosted by Chris Berman and Tom Mees. My responsibility was to watch games, select and edit highlights. I still couldn’t believe I was being paid to watch sports, and, in that euphoria, my career-long study of sports television began.

Reflecting on my time at ESPN, I find myself holding dear and remembering most the people I worked with. I am still in awe of your dedication to the smallest of details, passion for excellence, and your enthusiasm for each and every assignment. Beyond incredible events, that is what I will treasure the most. To all of you who joined me on this amazing ride, please know that I have the greatest admiration and respect for each one of you. Words cannot express my appreciation to and for you. I hope, as I do, that you hold dear and fondly remember all we accomplished. And how we did it – together. It is because of you that ESPN enjoys its lofty reputation as the most trusted and respected network.

Over the last decade it was a privilege coaching and collaborating with our director team, sharing ideas and experiences that I feel made us all better directors. Personally, it was enjoyable and rewarding and professionally it gives me high hopes for our future.

We lived and worked during a golden era in sports television. It was a time when all of us were deftly guided by inspired leadership, motivated by associates who cherished teamwork and demonstrated respect and compassion for one another. We were all in lock-step to prepare and present the most informative, entertaining, and memorable experience possible for our viewers. No question. Although we covered countless events and many athletic teams, I feel to my very core that our ESPN team was and is the greatest in television.

I am reminded of The New Yorker’s Malcolm Gladwell who wrote, “Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.”

So we went to work—across multiple 24-7 networks which aired every day of the year. I am so thankful and aware that I was in the right place at the right time. Fortunate to be a part of teams that covered college football on ESPN and ABC, Big East and ACC college basketball, the College World Series, and 18 years of the NFL. In every venue, I am proud to say that we told stories and painted pictures that will stand the test of time.

I take particular pride that we created new content and new coverage approaches. Our shared credits include: The NFL Draft, the 1988 America’s Cup, the 1994 World Cup, the X Games, The ESPYS, and the Indy 500. Regardless of event, the passion and drive to excel and innovate was part of our ESPN DNA.

And so, I wish you good luck with your experiences and, please, remember to enjoy your journey.


Chip Dean

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