FAIRFIELD, CT: Former ESPN communications VP and PR consultant Rob Tobias died on Friday after battling brain cancer. He was 60 years old.
Tobias started his own shop in 2015 after a 32-year career at ESPN. He got his start at the network after a friend working in operations brought Tobias to work with him in the early days of the channel.
"Tobias pitched in and kept coming back," ESPN said in the announcement of his retirement in 2015. "Such was the life at a network, and a medium, in its infancy that nobody paid much attention to the new guy; after all, they were all new and just trying to survive."
Tobias’ first official title at the network was publicist. He rose up the ranks to become VP of communications. Along the way, Tobias managed publicity for ESPN properties and shows including the sports documentary series, 30 for 30.
Charley Steiner, a former SportsCenter anchor, praised Tobias as one of the "real pillars and the foundation of what ESPN was and what it would become" in a tribute posted to ESPN’s website.
"In a world where egos were plentiful, [Tobias] had the gift of standing in the wings with a bemused smile on his face, arms folded across his chest, watching the talent be talent, encouraging them when needed and occasionally cleaning up a mess that they left behind," Steiner wrote.
Tobias launched his own consultancy after leaving ESPN in 2015, according to his obituary in the Chicago Tribune. His funeral was Monday in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Tobias left behind a son, Zack; a fiancée, Bridget Ruehl; his father, Walter; his brother, Steven; and his sister, Karen.