Kiper still talking to ESPN about getting a new deal

NFL draft expert has been with network for 22 years

October 16, 2004|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

Though on hiatus, Baltimore-area media personality Mel Kiper Jr. said he expects to continue his longtime relationship with ESPN, despite reports that he had recently split with the network and his absence from the network's radio broadcasts this month.

Kiper, 44, formally left the network when his contract expired on Oct. 1. Kiper had been with ESPN for the previous 22 years, after rising to prominence as an expert on the NFL draft.

During that time, he also ended up contributing to the network's magazine and Web site, which he hopes to be a part of in the future. He said he had actually continued writing beyond the contract's expiration two weeks ago.

"We are still in negotiations, in [the] process of agreeing to a contract," Kiper said yesterday, maintaining that the large part of his normal duties wouldn't kick in until the final months before the April draft. ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz confirmed yesterday that the negotiations were alive again.

"Mel expressed an interest in renewing talks on our last proposal," Krulewitz said. "We are amenable to that, and have resumed discussions."

Previously, ESPN executive Mark Shapiro said that Kiper "would not agree to extend the standard non-monetary contract provisions of his current deal," according to the New York Post. Kiper said he agreed to those provisions yesterday morning.

"They must have thought that the negotiations were off," said Kiper's wife and representative, Kim, accounting for the earlier characterization by ESPN. She said that they had agreed with the conditions, describing the differences as their wishes for "a more specific contract" as opposed to the network's hope for "a more broad-range contract."

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