Money and exposure both reportedly figured into a heavy-handed pitch to lure National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates away from The Atlantic to join The Undefeated, ESPN’s so-called “Black Grantland” that began under the leadership of sportswriter Jason Whitlock.
That’s according to Coates, who last week recounted Whitlock’s attempt to woo him away from the monthly magazine of politics and culture in an interview with Evan Ratliff of the Longform Podcast.
Coates said he talked with Whitlock on the phone about the possibility of joining ESPN before Whitlock was ousted from The Undefeated. During the conversation, Whitlock offered to triple Coates’ salary at The Atlantic and put him in front of the camera, Coates said:
We were talking on the phone, and it was like if you were in the hood and some big-time drug dealer rolled up on you and said, ‘I want you to work this package for me.’ That was what his approach was like.