steiner: robin, bob [ley], and i were like the mod squad, only in reverse - we had two white guys and a black chick. bob was the republican intelligentsia, robin just illuminated the screen, and i was the short, dumpy liberal guy - we had a wonderful chemistry.

i've got a dozen classic bloopers that everybody remembers. like carl lewis torturing the national anthem and i completely lost it - boogers flying out of my nose, drool coming from my mouth. the producer is screaming, "tell him to stop!" it was like being in the back of the class and holding in the laughter till you can't hold it in anymore.

olbermann: one show, recalling mickey mantle's life, we did without jokes or catchphrases. even the highlights were perfunctory and straightforward. mantle's obit didn't require any amplification.

all three of you worked for espn when it really took off, about '93-'94 - what were those years like?

roberts: i don't think there's a more brilliant industry success story. this was a cable station that started off with aussie rules football. in the early '90s, it was still only espn. we didn't have espnews, the magazine, and everything else. but in '93 with the launch of espn2, we started being mentioned in the same breath as abc, nbc, cbs. we were gaining respect and we weren't that four-letter network anymore.

olbermann: ultimately, it remains a cable television company that has international reach but is still headquartered in the middle of nowhere. it was very much like being at the center of a hurricane. there's no way to perceive that what you're doing is seen, let alone influential to ­everyone connected to sports. not till i left did i realize its widespread impact. sportscenter was kind of the wall street journal of sports - a requirement for sports fans.

steiner: there were a handful of sports stories that legitimized sportscenter - pete rose's baseball ban and magic johnson's hiv announcement. as sportscenter and espn got bigger, we were the last ones to know about it up in "bunker town."