Steve Bornstein, the top media executive at the National Football League and president of its cable channel, will exit his position when his contract expires in May, the NFL confirmed.
A former president of ESPN and ABC, Bornstein played a key role in getting the NFL Network off the ground and in negotiating the lucrative television rights deals that the league has with CBS, Fox, ESPN, NBC and DirecTV.
Bornstein was also an innovator both at ESPN and the NFL. At ESPN, he helped build the network into a sports juggernaut. At the NFL, not only did he oversee the creation of the NFL Network, he also developed its popular sister channel RedZone that has become very popular with both hardcore fans and fantasy football addicts.
Known for his blunt personality and dry wit and a willingness to crush a few egos to get his way, Bornstein stood out among media executives because of his candor and willingness to talk beyond media industry cliches. When he was at ESPN, he once described rival Fox Sports as "a bit of mosquito."
That lack of an internal censor, loved by the press, was one reason that Bornstein had kept a lower profile over recent years.
The NFL said Brian Rolapp, chief operating officer of NFL Media, would succeed Bornstein. Rolapp is a rising star at the league and has been particulary active with the NFL's digital initiatives including its recent deals with Verizon and Microsoft Xbox.
Rolapp has been with the NFL since 2003; before that, he worked in business development at NBC.
News of Bornstein's plans was first reported by the New York Times.
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.