Neha Patil (Editor)

Outside the Lines

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Country of origin  United States
Original network  ESPN
Running time  30 minutes
Starring  Bob Ley Jeremy Schaap Mark Schwarz T.J. Quinn Kelly Naqi
Original release  May 7, 1990 (1990-05-07) – present

Outside the Lines, or also referred to as OTL, is an American television program on ESPN that looks "outside the lines" and examines critical issues in mostly American sports on and off the field of play.


The primary host of the show, since it began, is long-time sportscasting veteran Bob Ley along with contributors and fill-in hosts to the show which include Jeremy Schaap, Mark Schwarz, T.J. Quinn, and Kelly Naqi. The program airs for 30 minutes Monday through Friday at 1:00 PM ET on ESPN and on Sunday at 9:00 AM ET on ESPN.


The show premiered in 1990 as a monthly one-hour program with Bob Ley as host. After a noticeable increase in television ratings, ESPN decided to expand the program for thirty minutes to their Sunday morning lineup at 9:30 am ET, where the show covered one or two of the more notable sporting news stories of the week.

After the ratings continued to grow, on May 12, 2003, ESPN premiered Outside the Lines Nightly. The Sunday morning program was still seen at 9:30 am ET, along with the nightly show that was seen during The Trifecta at midnight and noon on ESPN. On June 12, 2006, ESPN announced that Outside the Lines Nightly (now Outside the Lines First Report) would be moved to 3:30 pm ET as part of the afternoon lineup on ESPN, and eventually moved to 3:00 pm ET. Following the addition of NFL Insiders to ESPN's schedule on August 5, 2013, the weekday OTL program (which by this point carried the same name as the Sunday series) began to be moved to air in the late afternoons on ESPN2 during the football season; it returns to the 3 p.m. ET slot on ESPN after the Super Bowl and airs there until the start of training camp in August, with occasional moves to ESPNEWS depending on sporting events scheduled for ESPN2. On September 8, 2014, it began to be preceded on ESPN2 by Olbermann, with Keith Olbermann and Ley having a cross-talk segment with each other leading out of Olbermann and into OTL; OTL moved back to its regular 3 p.m. ESPN berth at the start of February 2015.

The program, both in the weekday and Sunday form, usually runs commercial-free from the top of the hour to 22 minutes past the hour, with the program's commercial load taking up most of the last eight minutes and ending with a note of video and audio on-demand options and promotions for primetime programming, along with Twitter and Facebook responses to that day's listed discussion hashtag.


All of the different versions of the show, whether OTL Sunday, OTL Nightly or OTL First Report, share the same basic design. Like the program's title, the show looks "outside the lines" at some of the most controversial and even inspirational stories in the sports world today. The program also often interviews story makers, such as members of Pat Tillman's platoon after he was killed in Afghanistan. The program also is joined by former players and sports writers to get all different opinions of the subject at hand.


Listed below are the numerous segments that appear throughout OTL First Report; note that for certain stories or sports news topics of heavy interest, the format is dropped and consists only of "At This Hour" followed by a debate segment with guests. They include:

  • At This Hour: This segment appears at the beginning of the program when the host goes over the latest information on some of the hottest stories from around the sports world.
  • Center Piece: During this segment a correspondent, such as Jeremy Schaap, Mark Schwarz or Kelly Naqi, delivers either an inspirational or controversial story.
  • Outside Opinion: At the end of the show, the host reads e-mails from viewers about their opinions on some of the stories covered throughout the program.
  • SportsNation Question of the Day: After going over some of the biggest stories of the day, the host poses a question related to one of the stories.
  • Stories covered

    Over the past few years, Outside the Lines has covered several Sports Emmy Award winning pieces such as Finding Bobby Fischer, Ben Comen, and Rainbow Man. It also covered the NFL's concussion crisis in the Peabody Award winning piece NFL at a Crossroads: Investigating a Health Crisis.

    Some of the other memorable pieces the show has covered include: Two Man Band (about Patrick Hughes, a blind member of the University of Louisville band and his dad), The Jason McElwain Story (about the autistic high school basketball manager who came into a game and scored 20 points), Athletes Carrying Guns (about whether it is appropriate for athletes to carry guns), Katrina's Impact on New Orleans (prior to the Saints' first game back in New Orleans) and Steroids impact on the Little Leagues (and how much they affect them).

    The program has also featured exclusive interviews with newsmakers such as: President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain, Pete Rose, Phil Jackson (after leaving the Lakers the first time) and the Army Rangers of Pat Tillman's platoon about what really happened. More recently, former NBA player John Amaechi appeared on the February 11, 2007 edition to publicly come out as gay, and the May 11, 2008 edition reported that former USC basketball star O. J. Mayo had allegedly received thousands of dollars in cash and merchandise from a runner for a sports agent dating back to his high school career.


    Outside the Lines Wikipedia