The massive layoffs that had been hanging over five magazine groups at Time Inc. have come to fruition, and as promised in the infamous Nov. 10 layoff memo, one of the hardest-hit was Sports Illustrated. Rumored to be among those leaving — and not of their own accord — are senior writer Richard Hoffer, columnist Alexander Wolff, and in an odd, sad scenario, football writer Paul Zimmerman, the venerable Dr. Z, is being forced into a much reduced presence; as soon as he returns from health problems. Zimmerman suffered a pair of strokes in November and is currently undergoing rehabilitation.
SI, under a mandate to cut 40 positions, is rumored to be scaling back Dr. Z with an eye toward guiding him into full retirement soon after.
A month ago Time announced that it would trim its workforce at those magazines by about 600 people, or about 6 percent of its workforce. Volunteers for buyout packages had two weeks to come forth, with layoffs to follow by Dec. 1 if the quota wasn't met. Obviously, it wasn't.
Some, like 27-year veteran basketball writer Jack McCallum, took the deal and left in late Nov. But others, such as Hoffer, Wolff and Zimmerman (allegedly), are being forced out, or at least to the sidelines.
SI's Peter King wrote a glowing profile of Zimmerman on Monday, thought at the time to be a tribute to his friend due to his health problems. But could it have been a farewell of a different kind instead?
Best Football Writer Of Our Time [Sports Illustrated]
Time To Quit? Layoff Memos From Time, Sports Illustrated, People And Fortune [Media Memo]