Bob Costas is a sanctimonious prick. But he is a talented sanctimonious prick with a knack for hitching his wagon to attention-getting liberal tropes that pander to his Baby Boomer demographic. Although he started his career in obscurity in the 1970s at a Midwestern small market television affiliate, his boyish good looks brought him to the attention of NBC executives, who also sensed in him this knack for preaching to the choir. Thus started a near forty-year career as a major network sports anchor and sportscaster. Costas was so ubiquitous at the network, it seemed like he anchored every sport on the planet. And he did–his face was in front of basketball, hockey, football, the Olympics, boxing, golf, NASCAR, and horse racing, to name just a few.
Costas was given over two dozen Emmy’s over his career. It is an incredible achievement, particularly given that many of his peers with similar talents and similar longevity were lucky to even be awarded one. But all this success and the adulation of his audience and his peers led to adopt a form of winners arrogance–where he was obviously the smartest guy in the room. And smart guys have an obligation to be conscientious objectors on TV–meaning his objections and his conscious, of course.
So Costas spoke his mind, whether we wanted to hear his opinions or not. This meant that we had to hear that gun ownership was bad during football season. We had to hear criticism of Republican presidents during baseball season. And we had to hear that professional football killed people during basketball season.
It was those comments about football that finally bit him in the ass. In spite of all the stupid things he said on the air and in opinion pieces in the New York Times, it wasn’t any of those things that brought the Bob Costas era to a much overdue close. It was his persistent smearing of the NFL.
Ironically, it was the NFL in which he caught his broadcasting break in 1976. He called play-by-play for eight years in the trenches, finally being elevated to studio host in 1984–something he parlayed into an eighteen year gig; twenty-six years overall. But Costas’ dark secret over all those years was that he hated football. He hated the violence. He found football’s game play pointless. So when he learned about a possible link between the degenerative brain disease CTE and concussions in football, he became open about his disdain for the sport.
This sanctimony did not go over well with NBC’s executives or the their bosses at Comcast. Think what you like about the NFL or the sport of American football, but the fact is the NFL is more popular than the NBA, NHL, MLS, and MLB put together. There was a period of time when NBC did not have an NFL television package, and it was like living through a Dark Ages for the network. Billions of dollars are at stake in NFL broadcast rights.
Interestingly enough, neither NFL management or ownership, by all accounts, had anything to do with Costas’ end at NBC. It is not as if the NFL was afraid of saying anything, something which they had done concerning ESPN’s Playmakers show in the early 2000’s about the off-field antics of a fictional NFL franchise. It was just plain old insubordination that did Costas in. Costas is so dumbfounded at being released for insubordination that he continues to blame the NFL for his ouster. But the evidence suggests otherwise.
So the Costas era ends like so many other Baby Boomer broadcast personalities that dominated TV for decades. Forced out over something stupid that they did or stupid that they said. Thank goodness.