Tom Werner: Jenny Dell, NESN 'moving on' from each other

Mike Petraglia
February 20, 2014 - 6:25 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Jenny Dell saga is coming to an end on NESN. Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, who oversees all of NESN's on-air operations, acknowledged Thursday morning that Dell has decided to pursue other opportunities outside of the sports cable franchise after she and Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks acknowledged on New Year's Eve that they were in a relationship. There was immediately much speculation that Dell and NESN would and should part ways. Dell was taken off the Red Sox beat by NESN in January. On Thursday, Werner broke the news that Dell, despite still working for the company, would prefer to get a job somewhere else. "I think that we talked about it internally because I think Jenny is a terrific reporter," Werner said. "I think we came to the conclusion, and Jenny came to the same conclusion, that it would be a distraction for her to be a reporter. So, she's moving on. "It wasn't sort of a black-and-white decision because [she could] divorce her personal life from being a professional. But we decided that in the end it would be better to move on and not have it be a distraction. She's looking for other opportunities. Nothing's been set but I think she's looking for other opportunities. We've offered her other positions at NESN, whether she wanted to be an anchor or on an evening show or do other stuff. Dell was hired before the 2012 season to replace Heidi Watney as the team's sideline reporter, covering the team on NESN for the entire season. Werner was asked if Dell is free and clear of any contractual obligations. "Yes, she is," Werner replied. As for another NESN talent, Werner said the team is welcoming back Jerry Remy with open arms. Remy, who will return to broadcasts this spring, took a leave of absence from the team in mid-August last year and did not return after his son Jared was charged with murdering his girlfriend, and mother of his child, in Waltham. "What we said to Jerry at the time was that we just offered him our support after the tragedy," Werner said. "We said to him, 'There's a place for you if and when you come back. This is going to be a very personal decision but you have a home here at NESN if and when you feel it's appropriate to come back.' We're delighted he's back. I know that he's very mindful of the tragedy but I think he's excited about returning to the booth." Here are some of the other relevant takeaways from Thursday's Q&A with Werner:

  • On the significance NESN, in light of the $250 million annually generated by the Dodgers TV network and the fact that the Yankees recently sold 80 percent of the YES Network to FOX: "I think that as an industry, the strength of regional sports networks is pretty clear. With so many channels, the one thing about sports in general is that it's live. I think 97 percent of the people who watch sports, watch it live. That's very valuable to advertisers, that's very valuable obviously to networks that broadcast it. Our relationship as an organizaton is stronger because of our relationship with NESN. I think it allows us to focus on Red Sox games, Red Sox, even when it's the offseason. I don't think we'd be as strong a baseball club without the partnership with NESN."