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(CNN Business) —  

Bob Ley, the longest-tenured anchor at ESPN and a journalistic legend, says he is retiring at the end of this month.

“To be clear, this is entirely my decision,” Ley said, fending off inevitable speculation about his dealings with ESPN.

Bob Ley
Robin Marchant/Getty Images
Bob Ley

“I enjoy the best of health, and the many blessings of friends and family, and it is in that context that I’m making this change,” Ley said.

Ley joined ESPN when the sports network launched in 1979. He is best known for the investigative news show “Outside the Lines.” He took a leave of absence last fall.

“In September, I signed off my last show saying, ‘I’ll catch you on the flip side.’ Now it’s time to take that vinyl off the turntable (ask your folks), flip it over, and drop the needle on the B-side. There are always great cuts, and hidden gems on the B-side,” he wrote in a statement. “Thank you for a great run.”

His admirers said Ley’s departure is the end of an era for sports television.

J.A. Adande, the director of sports journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School, tweeted that Ley is “one of the foundational pieces of ESPN and one if its best journalistic voices.”