‘Most hated man in sports’ tries to get viewers to love Fox – Chicago Tribune

In a Los Angeles barbershop taping a promotional spot for his new TV show, the country’s most divisive sports commentator was in an argument, naturally. There was Skip Bayless, igniting a fury by insisting that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is overrated. A Super Bowl champion! A former MVP! The barbers and customers were apoplectic.

It’s just the type of sports sacrilege Bayless uses to excite and enrage viewers. The 64-year-old former newspaper columnist, called “the most hated man in sports” by the Washington Post, has parlayed his wit, work ethic and lifelong passion for arguing into a career as one of the most prominent sports commentators in the U.S.

After 12 years at ESPN, Bayless is embarking on his greatest challenge yet: going head-to-head with his former employer, the most profitable of the world’s media giants.

Bayless has reunited with former producer Jamie Horowitz at Fox Sports 1, a 3-year-old cable network that’s paying him $5.5 million a year, according to Sports Illustrated. With scores and highlights circulating instantaneously across apps and social media, Horowitz is betting that big personalities are the foundation of cable sports networks of the future, a strategy that echoes the way Fox News unseated CNN as the highest-rating news channel.

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