Abby Wambach signs multi-platform deal with ESPN

The Equalizer Staff May 4, 2016 59
Abby Wambach has joined ESPN. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

Abby Wambach has joined ESPN. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

Abby Wambach has signed a multi-year agreement to join ESPN in a wide-ranging role. Soccer’s all-time international goal scorer will launch a bi-weekly podcast later this month called Fearless Conversation with Abby Wambach. This summer she will cover men’s European Championship and the Olympic Games. The announcement by ESPN did not specifically say Wambach will be covering soccer during the Olympics.

“My soccer career has provided me with a lot of different experiences that brings more than Xs and Os to the table,” Wambach said in a story posted on espn.com. “I’m excited to join ESPN and to have the opportunity to tell stories that transcend soccer.”

Wambach will also be a contributor to ESPN Films, E:60 and Outside the Lines.

After helping the United States win the World Cup last summer, Wambach retired at the end of the Victory Tour. In the time since she announced she would campaign for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. And she pleaded guilty to a DUII charge after being arrested late night in downtown Portland.

  • Cc W

    Well, let’s see how that goes. Yes she has the name, but I’m not sure she’s going to be an insightful contributor.

    • Guest

      Has to be a step up from Mitts, Whitehill, Diccico etc. Can’t get much worse than them.

      • Guest

        I like Aly Wagner and Foudy can be tolerable at times. Abby is going to say controversial things though and ESPN will love her for it.

        • Guest

          Wagner is the best of the bunch. Foudy is good but sometimes says stupid things. I just like that they are changing it up and not using the same crew as always since the ones at the WC were pretty awful

          • Guest

            Foudy is just too much of a straight arrow. I feel like I’m listening to a politician when she commentates. Wagner gives a little more emotion with insightful analysis. She’s my favorite too.

          • Guest

            Totally agree.

          • guest

            nobody talks more and says less than foudy.

        • TsovLoj

          Who was the German chick from the Cup last year? She was great. And I’ve always liked Markgraf’s commentary.

          • Guest

            Ariane Hingst? She was great too but I don’t think she was giving commentary during games. Markgraf was more or less like Foudy to me but not bad.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uWWdyTpj0Q

          • TsovLoj

            Yeah, her. And you’re right, I don’t think she was voicing over the game, but she was great at the halves, so maybe she should be, you know?

          • Gary Diver

            Impressive. Ariane Hingst sang the Star-Spangled Banner better than some Americans can sing it.

          • I think they are just lucky the US won. Him trying to sing the German anthem? I doubt he knows one word of German.

          • calvester

            She’s OK as long as someone teaches her to say “especially” instead of “exspecially” and “versus” instead of “verse”. That’s like nails on a blackboard to me.

          • It’s called an accent.

          • calvester

            I was referring to Markgraf, not Hingst, so it’s not called an accent, it’s called poor grammar.

          • DDCart

            I get a kick out of Markgraf’s colourful commentary and delivery. Hingst was really great wasn’t she?

      • guest

        Wambach’s probably going to be about as awful as Chastain and Whitehill. Her stupid comments in the last few years made her unbearable.

    • HOFCToDi

      Does that come with a free bar?

      • Steglitz49

        free line, you mean, surely?

  • Bluenun

    People lets not forget this is ESPN they don’t set the bar to high!

    • Karissa Woods

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  • mskillens

    Cocktails with Abby….

  • Vladlagg

    Get that lady who provided commentary during the week 3 SRFC V FCKC match. She was awesome!

    • guest

      You mean Leslie Gallimore, long term head coach of UW’s women’s soccer team and the Reign’s color commentator for three out of four seasons? Yeah, she’s pretty good. She can be a bit long winded and a bit biased at times but her knowledge about so many of the players in the league helps. She’s coached against probably the vast majority of American players and can add good insight.

      • smallchief

        I agree. Gallimore is the best color commentator around, if a bit wordy. She should do the National Team.

        • Only if we can all agree to retire the phrase, “She’s gonna want that one back.”

          • mockmook

            Every announcer over-uses that one — you can take that to the bank…

          • Lorehead

            So, you’re saying, she’s going to want that one back?

  • wosofan

    espn is a joke, but credit abby for taking their money. How could she possibly say anything insightful about the Euros?

    • Get serious

      Could it be worse than men who comment on games, who have never stepped on a pitch?

    • Ashley C

      Michael Owen and Owen Hargreaves are both awful pundits and they still have jobs. Get over it.

  • guest

    abby would have done better as an uber driver.

  • Lord Otter-Blotter

    Seems “too soon,” probably, from a PR perspective, but I generally like this. I’ll definitely be listening to that podcast. I wouldn’t bet on her being any good at actually calling games, but as a talking head or sideline reporter she could probably be pretty entertaining.

  • F0OtballNowAndAlways

    Is this part of her plan to help develop the sport for little girls? Where is her commitment to the NWSL? That should surely benefit little girls in the long run more than anything she does with ESPN.

    • Steglitz49

      A woman commentating on the men’s European Championship is a good start.

      Abby would need to do her homework else she will bring discredit on WoSo. No doubt she will.

      • F0OtballNowAndAlways

        No doubt she’ll bring discredit on WoSo, or no doubt she’ll do her homework?

        How much credibility will she have when she has to comment on a foul awarded on a dive, knowing she was an accomplished diver herself in her day?

        • Steglitz49

          As long as she does not mix up Zlatan with Lagerbäck she should be OK.

        • Tikitaka

          Same credibility as any other commentator that was a former player. Are you seriously trying to say she’s the only footballer that dives?

          • F0OtballNowAndAlways

            No, I didn’t mean to imply she was the only diver in soccer. Just wanted to throw in a mischievous snark.

  • mockmook

    From the sounds of it, it will be a combination of sports and pushing a political agenda. Welcome to ESPN, the number one leader in taking the enjoyment out of sports.

    • Paul Klee

      I don’t watch ESPN at all anymore. Except, of course, for a live sporting event. Even there the WoSo coverage is subpar and full of needless ESPN talking points.

  • Ashley C

    I’ll be curious to see how this turn outs. Good luck to her. Surely she will do better than awful pundits like Owen.

    When I was watching canWNT Olympic qualifying Karina LeBlanc was doing some commentating and she was quite good. I’d love to see her do some things for the Olympics of the NWSL as well somewhere. Perhaps with CBC.

  • AlexH

    Abby always struck me as a good talker and a smart soccer player so a commentator gig makes a lot of sense. The proof of the pudding is in the eating so lets all wait and see how she does.

  • Fred

    As if it wasn’t bad enough hearing her scream at her teammates.

  • newsouth

    you are telling me have to watch this brute cover soccer instead of heather mitts and leslie osborne. sad world we live in!

    • AlexH

      Different network. Heather and Leslie will still be on Fox (aka the “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful” network)

      • guest

        nice work business attire.

  • NYRick

    Double standard at work here folks. OK I’ll say it. If Abby was a prominent male athlete (one who only weeks ago got a very public and embarrassing uncontested DWI charge) ESPN would go nowhere near her. Especially ESPN. They have a long history of firing high profile on-air people for even the slightest of incorrect PC matters (see Curt Schilling as the latest example). I think ESPN is avoiding a public battle with her and one of the reasons could also be the US women players current fight for equal wages with the men’s soccer team. Whatever it is, it’s wrong.

    Of course this will labeled as some type of sexist comment, but really what I’m after is equality. A derivative pun name for this very site and the battle women want in relation to men in every facet of society. Thoughts?

    • Guest

      Totally agree. People don’t seem to realize that there are two sides to the battle.

    • Gary Diver

      Isn’t it true that no matter what Abby Wambach does it will be controversial and a lot of people will find fault with it.

      Decisions like this one by ESPN are always made by a small number of people in big offices on the top floor of big buildings. And rarely are the masses informed by the important men making the decisions why they made those decisions. You can view this decision as an experiment and only time will tell if the important men in the big offices made the right decision.

      As far as the DUI arrest, I don’t feel as punitive as many other people. I had an uncle who was killed by a drunk driver so I do view this offense as very serious. But my gut feeling is that the majority of American adults have driven at least once in their lives with an alcohol content over the legal limit.

      Who hasn’t hasn’t driven once in their life in the gray zone? Only a single 12 ounce beer per hour puts most people at the edge of the gray zone and two beers within an hour will put you in the danger zone.

      Also, Wambach most likely will get the DUI charge expunged next year which means that at that point it technically never occurred. You may not agree with our legal system but first time offenders have the right to make this kind of event officially disappear.

      • Steglitz49

        Having retired, she can’t do a Petter Northug.

    • One of a Kind

      Schilling’s erroneous social media posts weren’t “the slightest of incorrect PC matters.” In the social media era, one should simply know better than to post ANYTHING that’s terribly demeaning about another perspective of life. Anyhow, DUI’s/DWI’s aren’t anything to take lightly, but they’re generally considered one-off mistakes rather than a long-term detriment of one’s character. I’m not necessarily saying I agree with that, but that’s how it is. Schilling was reprimanded for a derogatory post about Muslims last year (was taken off Little League coverage then lost his Sunday Night gig) before stupidly commenting on a Transgender law a couple weeks ago. Heck, TNT even brought back Greg Anthony after his transgressions with a prostitute. Above all, it’s as if you forgot Ray Lewis is employed by ESPN.

      Although Wambach’s waning years almost ruined a bit of her legacy (perhaps due to her politicking ways becoming more obvious to the naked eye rather than her vanishing ability), to suggest ESPN only hired her as a preemptive way to avoid an issue with the USWNT is extremely far-fetched in so many ways. Whether you like her or not, one cannot deny that Wambach is one of the most charismatic female athletes out there. Wambach was made for TV; simple as that really. She should do well in her role.

    • Lorehead

      The closest equivalent I can think of: Fox Sports hired Donovan McNabb, the former NFL quarterback, as an analyst in August 2014, despite serving a one-day jail sentence in April 2014 for driving drunk the previous December. He was fired after his second DUI in June 2015.

      There have been a number of others anchors who kept their jobs despite some kind of arrest. Al Michaels is another male sports anchor convicted of DUI. Gregg Jarrett in 2014 got arrested for getting drunk in Minneapolis airport, and FOX News, appropriately, suspended but did not fire him. And ESPN’s Mike Tirico did a lot worse. If those reports are true, he should have been fired.

      So, basically, a DUI where nobody got hurt seems to be a strike against you, not a firing offense by itself.

      As for Schilling, I’m not sure why you bring that up, but if he’d gratuitously insulted a group of people you liked more, I don’t think you’d be calling that “even the slightest” political incorrectness. Besides, he was already on warning.

  • Paul Klee

    If that show with Skip Bayless is still on they could retire him and have Abby Wambach replace him. At least her outrageous commentary isn’t fake.

    • kevin

      actually skip just announced he is leaving his espn first take show with stephen smith this summer. he is moving over to fox sports. so i guess there is an opening now. lol.

  • kevin
    • kevin

      maybe it was just an oregon tornado.

  • Football

    I hope she sticks to football talk and not go all PC patrol on us.

  • Anson

    I predict Abby’s commentary will piss off many of the US contingent but they won’t be able to say anything since she is supposably admired by them!