Mike Golic on ESPN’s layoffs, politics and John Skipper’s exit

Veteran ESPN anchor Mike Golic opens up to FOX Business about his 23-year career with the sports network, the company’s stormy year of layoffs, politics and the abrupt departure of its president, John Skipper, after he acknowledged having a cocaine problem.

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The 55-year-old former NFL defensive lineman also says he feels “rejuvenated” over his new show with Trey Wingo, “Golic and Wingo,” after the sudden end to his show “Mike & Mike” with Mike Greenberg late last year.

Golic says he is back to high school weight thanks to a healthy lifestyle and is partnering with Janssen Pharmaceuticals to bring awareness to Type 2 diabetes by drawing on his experience.

“My biggest piece of advice is understand what you have and how you need to deal with it,” Golic says, adding that he needed to build a support team led by his wife, Christine, to stay on track.

The following are excerpts from FOX Business’ interview with Golic.

Do you think the NFL does enough for players after they leave the game, especially in regards to their health?

Golic: I mean, listen. The NFL has programs for you while you're playing and when you're done playing; players have to take advantage of it. And let's be honest, I'm responsible for my health. I don't look at the National Football League and say you know what, I'm done playing, so make sure I'm eating right or make sure I'm doing what I should be doing. That's not their responsibility. That's my responsibility and my family's responsibility.

ESPN’s new president, Jim Pitaro, made news this week by saying that the network is “not a political organization.” Do you think ESPN personalities taking political stances have hurt the network’s brand?

Golic: My thought process is that nobody cares what I have to say politically. They don't tune into my show to hear me talk politics, they tune in for me to talk sports. If one of my co-workers wants to do that, that's their right to do. If they feel that hurts their brand or ESPN overall, that's something they have to have a discussion with the new president of ESPN about. [But] I am supportive of my colleagues. They're allowed to have their own opinions and express their opinions.

ESPN has laid off several big personalities in recent months. Do you fear you’re next?

Golic: There are other companies that do the same thing. Now that being said, do I like seeing colleagues get laid off? No, I don't like to see that, but I know people outside of ESPN who are at jobs where their companies lay people off or move their company out of town and all of a sudden they're out of a job. So it's not just an ESPN thing. This is happens in a lot of different places, but it doesn’t make it easier when I have a colleague who all of a sudden doesn't have a job. And listen, I'm 55. I've been doing this morning radio thing going on 20 years, and I've had a great time there. If it were to end tomorrow, I would say I had a great time.

Do you think ESPN’s business model is solid?

Golic: I think live sports is the way to go. I know it's expensive, but I think in today's world having that and having ESPN be the place to go to watch live events, I think is a good way to go.

What was your reaction to former ESPN president John Skipper’s admission in The Hollywood Reporter about his cocaine addiction?

Golic: You wish John the best. If he has a problem and talked about a problem, you want him to get help. It's no different from when I was playing ball. I had a very well-known teammate in Cris Carter who had issues with drugs when we were in Philadelphia. He went to Minnesota, he straightened himself out and he's a Hall of Fame player. So, I always wish the best for people who have any kind of issues that they're dealing with. And the same goes for John. The same goes for anybody who has these kind of issues as far as what went with him running the company. Listen, that is, A, not my territory and, B, I’ve been a locker room guy all my life and anything that ever goes on in a locker room to me, I keep in a locker room, but I don't even know or spend a lot of time with John to know all the things that he dealt with.

The End of “Mike & Mike” and the start of “Golic and Wingo.” What happened?

Golic: I've known Trey Wingo forever. We've done a lot of NFL. He's been on NFL shows for 15 years at ESPN. We worked together during that big part of that. And one of the reasons I kind of feel rejuvenated is that my son Mike is also on the show as well. He has his own show, and then he comes on our show. So that's pretty cool to be able to work with your son. And as far as “Mike & Mike” ending, as I said on air as well, that was not my decision. It was not my decision to make. So, I'm really not the one to ask about that. The people whose decision that was, they are the ones that should be asked and they can explain it. I enjoyed “Mike & Mike,” it was a great 18-year run. They wanted to end it. But I look at it this way: I played for the Houston Oilers, then I went to the Philadelphia Eagles, then I went to the Miami Dolphins and played the same game, just with different teammates. I was in “Mike & Mike” for a long time, and I'm doing the exact same game with Trey and my son, just different teammates. So you know the world doesn't stop. We just keep moving on.