I’ve been meaning to circle back for a day or so to this excellent ESPN piece about Bob Costas, the NFL, NBC and concussions. Upon finally reading the full piece Tuesday afternoon, several things stand out:
1 — In 2015, Costas was poised to deliver one of his scripted football essays as part of NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcasts. Sensing it was more controversial than most because it dealt with concussions and the effects of brain trauma in the NFL, Costas submitted it to his bosses for approval. Per the ESPN piece, Costas said:
“I remember the reaction almost verbatim. They said, ‘This is a very well-written piece, wouldn’t change a comma. We can’t air it.”
Costas says he asked why.
“We’re in negotiations with the NFL for Thursday Night Football,” he says he was told.
“It was at that point that I realized that this was an untenable situation for me,” he says. “I knew my days there were numbered.”
2 — Costas persisted in talking about concussions in other venues. He was poised to do his final Super Bowl in February 2018 in Minneapolis. But his frequent commentary about concussions got him pulled from the broadcast by NBC. Again, per the piece:
“I think the words were, ‘You’ve crossed the line,'” says Costas, who says he no longer has the text.
“My thought was, ‘What line have I crossed?'”
Later, Costas says he pointed out that he had been saying these things about football for years — often on NBC. That didn’t matter; it seemed this was one time too many.
Costas was told he was off the Super Bowl LII broadcast.
“I recall the phrase, ‘It’s a six-hour, daylong celebration of football, and you’re not the right person to celebrate football,'” Costas says. “To which my response was not, ‘Oh please, please, change your mind.’ My response was, ‘Yeah, I guess you’re right.’”
3 — All of this caused a strain between Costas and NBC, who officially parted ways last month.
In any event, the story is definitely worth a read.