ESPN Never Had A Golden Age: The Real Meaning Of Olbermann's ReturnTim Marchman7/17/13 11:54amFiled to: espnkeith olbermannsportscenterthose guys have all the fun7311EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalink So Keith Olbermann is returning to ESPN, which a) has to be one of the more expensive press releases in history and b) shows that the company really has come to that age where you start getting deeply sentimental. It all makes sense.There is a mythological narrative about ESPN, set forth most effectively in the 2011 oral history Those Guys Have All the Fun but also, in its way, on the website you're reading, that runs roughly as follows: Up to a certain point, the network was a ramshackle shop run on nerve and brains, producing programming too edgy and perhaps too smart for its public. As it grew into its full authority as the single most powerful actor in American sports, though, it dulled its sharp edges, compromising its mission in exchange for access and in deference to entrenched power. In this telling, the survivors of ESPN's earlier days soldier on in a state of perpetual dissonance, trying to reconcile what they've become with the ideals they once held. This story casts people like John Walsh and John Skipper as former Weathermen in late middle age—still fundamentally sympathetic to the cause, cautious and conflicted in the exercise of power.