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Patrick clears the air on his departure

Since Dan Patrick announced on his radio show Monday he'll be leaving ESPN Aug. 17, rumors have swirled as to why he's leaving and where he'll end up.

One thing is for certain: Patrick will remain on the airwaves after it was announced yesterday he will join The Content Factory, which will distribute Patrick's new radio show.

Among the more popular rumors included one about contract negotiations getting ugly and that he'd been tapped as the new host of "The Price Is Right."

Wrong on both counts, said Patrick, who made a name when he and Keith Olbermann combined irreverent and intelligent quips as cohosts of ESPN's flagship show, "SportsCenter."

Patrick, who worked for CNN Sports for five years before joining ESPN in 1989, said the rumor of rocky negotiations has him scratching his head.

"Well, if there were, why would they let me go on the radio for five days?" he said, referring to the fact radio hosts are usually shown the door right away, so they can't say goodbye to listeners. Saying goodbye, incidentally, is something Patrick plans on doing in a big way.

"My final week is Aug. 13-17, and it will be kind of a celebratory swan song." Patrick said earlier this week. "And I'll hopefully do it in a tasteful way that doesn't sound like the longest goodbye in radio history. I don't want to overstay my welcome."

Patrick, who had an option year left on his contract, said he let his bosses know over the winter that he was thinking of leaving. They asked Patrick to stay through the NBA Finals, and then they could come to a "mutual parting of the ways."

Regarding "The Price Is Right" job, Patrick said, "That was a thing that sort of took on a life of its own. They called ESPN Radio while I was on the air and said please have Dan call CBS right away. I just said take a number, and didn't call back right away."

Then CBS told him he was on the short list to replace Bob Barker, and invited him to Los Angeles to audition.

"I said, 'I'm flattered, but I don't think that's the next career move for me,' " he said. "They've been persistent in asking me, but I wanted to be true to them, and didn't want to go out there and go through the motions."

But he's still not saying what he will do beyond The Content Factory.

"I said in my [on-air] announcement that it's not a great business plan that I suggest others follow, to not have a new job lined up," he said. "But I knew that it was time to leave ESPN, but I don't know where I'm going. I don't have an agent, so I'll just go to the mailbox, and maybe someone will send me a letter.

"ESPN hasn't ruled out me doing TV stuff or TV specials," Patrick added. "So I'm leaving with my head held high, and proud of the people I met and worked with. It's with mixed feelings because not many people want to leave ESPN . . . but I'm choosing to leave for the right reasons -- that is, to try something different. I don't know, I think I've just been protected by that ESPN cocoon for such a long time, and there's nothing wrong with seeing what else is out there, and seeing what I can do. It's a great cocoon, but sometimes you can't fly as high as you want or stretch your wings as wide as you want."

Patrick, who with Olbermann appeared two weeks ago on "The Late Show with David Letterman," said he didn't mean to be coy by not mentioning his resignation, "but I didn't think it was the right time."

He said Olbermann knew of his plans, and cautioned him.

"Keith said, 'It's a hard, cold world out there,' and I said, 'That's all right, I'll bring a flashlight,' " said Patrick.

Worldwide leaders
The ESPY Awards will air Sunday at 9 p.m., cohosted by comedian Jimmy Kimmel and NBA star LeBron James. Since the show was taped earlier this week, the winners are no secret; LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers was voted best male athlete, and University of Arizona softball star Taryne Mowatt was named best female athlete. A new award, best finish, went to the Los Angeles Dodgers for their win over the San Diego Padres. Trailing, 9-5, the Dodgers hit back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs to force extra innings, then won in the bottom of the 10th on a two-run homer by Nomar Garciaparra . . . Channel 5 will televise the WNBA All-Star Game Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Dave Pasch will call the game in Washington, D.C., with analyst Doris Burke and courtside reporters Rebecca Lobo and Heather Cox . . . Channel 4 will air its first of three one-hour specials on the Tour de France Sunday at 2 p.m. The next two, including coverage of the finale in Paris, are July 22 and July 29 . . . Last Sunday's Wimbledon men's final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal earned a 3.2 rating and 9 share, the best since 2004 (Federer-Andy Roddick). West Palm Beach, Fla., led the top 10 markets with a 7.0 rating and 17 share; Providence (a hotbed of tennis?) was tied for seventh with a 4.2 rating and an 11 share. The women's final, in which Venus Williams defeated Marion Bartoli, earned a 2.8 rating and 8 share . . . Fans hoping to see Episode 1 of "The Bronx is Burning" on ESPN were burned by the Home Run Derby. The show was scheduled to air at 10 p.m. Monday but started at 11:05 on the East Coast. Episode 2 airs Tuesday at 10 p.m.

Material from the Associated Press was used; Susan Bickelhaupt can be reached at bickelhaupt@globe.com.

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