Dan Patrick surprised the sports media world nearly 15 years ago when he announced he was leaving ESPN without another big job to take.
In hindsight, he says now, it's the best decision of his life. Patrick says he left ESPN so he could see his wife and children more.
"I was missing my kids growing up," he said last week on an episode of 10 Questions with Kyle Brandt.
Patrick had one of the top jobs in sports media when he stepped down, having anchored ESPN's SportsCenter from 1989 to 2006 while hosting his own radio show on ESPN's radio network from 1999 until the year he left.
He was set to sign another contract with ESPN in 2007. At the time, he had four children in the house.
"I chose to leave ESPN," he told Brandt. "And it came down to one simple thing, though. I wanted to do my radio show on Friday, at home. That was it. Monday through Thursday, I would do it at the [ESPN] mothership [and] I'd still do SportsCenter. And I just – I was missing my kids growing up. My kids were ... nine through 15 – four kids. And I was going to re-sign at ESPN. I was going to sign a new five-year deal."
A thought-provoking comment from his wife about their children changed his mind about staying at ESPN.
"I remember that morning, my wife said, 'Are you sure you want to do this [re-sign]?' I'm like yeah, of course. ... And then she said, 'They're gonna all be out of the house. They're gonna be all out of the house when you're done with this.'"
Patrick's drive from his home to ESPN spanned 55 minutes. During that time, he decided to quit ESPN.
"My boss said, 'So what are you gonna do? Take it or leave it?' And I paused, and I said, 'I'm gonna leave it,'… And I call my wife. I said, 'Honey, I'm coming home.' She goes, 'okay.' And I said, 'No, I'm coming home. I'm going to quit ESPN.' She goes, 'If we have to sell the house, we'll sell the house.' That's when it hit me of – she had perspective, I had none. You know, I'm on TV. I'm making great money. She's raising the kids. ... I was so blind to it. And thank God I came home."
Patrick soon launched his own radio show, The Dan Patrick Show, broadcast from his attic. The show is currently syndicated on Premiere Radio Networks and streaming on Peacock.
"I have three daughters, and it was so important to be around them," he said. "... They needed me there. I didn't know how much." Patrick also noted that his oldest child, a son, needed him at home.
"… Best decision I ever made."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Bryan Bedder/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.