SBD/February 11, 2014/Olympics

Costas' Eye Infection Puts Him On The Bench; Lauer To Host Tuesday's Primetime Show

Lauer's appearance will snap Costas' streak that dates back to '88
NBC this morning announced Matt Lauer will replace Bob Costas as the host of NBC’s Sochi Games primetime coverage tonight. Lauer on “Today” said the infection in Costas’ left eye "appears to have spread to the right eye." Costas later appeared on the broadcast via telephone and said to Lauer, "I was trying to throw a complete game here. I think we're going to have to go to the bullpen.” Lauer: "So I'm going to step in for you tonight, the master at Olympic primetime?" Costas: "I believe that's it. And let's hope it's only tonight, because right now, I might as well be playing Marco Polo. I have no idea where I am" (“Today,” NBC, 2/11). SI.com's Richard Deitsch notes this will be the first time since CBS aired the '98 Nagano Games that "someone other than Costas will host an Olympic primetime show." It also ends a "streak of 157 consecutive primetime appearances on NBC's Olympic coverage" dating back to the '88 Seoul Games. An NBC spokesperson said Costas' status is "day to day" (SI.com, 2/11). In DC, Cindy Boren notes with no improvement since the start of the Games, the "buzz about 'what’s wrong with Costas’s eye' increased across social media and spawned all sorts of memes." Costas last night "treated the condition with a shot of vodka on the air," but that "didn’t help, either." He said in a segment with Mary Carillo, "I’m not really that much of a vodka guy. I’m looking at it this way though -- my eyes can’t get any redder" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/11).

DISTRACTING FROM HIS PERFORMANCE: YAHOO SPORTS’ Eric Freeman wrote Costas has not been "quite the same presence in the studio” as in past years. When Costas opened NBC's primetime coverage last night, it “immediately became clear” that his infection had not cleared up. He in fact “looks quite a bit worse" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/10). ESPN's Mike Greenberg said, "Watching what has become of his eyes is physically painful." Greenberg: "He looks like he just went nine rounds with Apollo Creed, and he’s out there doing the Olympics. ... He’s hanging in there because he’s the best in the business. Let’s give it up for Bob” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 2/11).

TWITTER REAX: CBSSports.com's Will Brinson writes, "We make lots of Costas jokes but it does take a certain resilience to fight through and work on live TV with your eyes staging a mutiny." Newsweek's John Walters wrote, "I've done 3 Olys with NBC. It's a total grind. Feel bad 4 Costas. If u're already sick, u won't recover on that schedule. Need day, 2, off." ESPN.com's Wayne Drehs: "For those back home who are concerned about my well-being here in Russia, don't be. I haven't come anywhere close to Bob Costas." Writer Tommy Tomlinson: "It appears that, for some reason, Bob Costas is watching Brian's Song during commercials." Meanwhile, writer Jon Acuff wrote, "Dear pharmaceutical industry, if you don't come up with a funny red eye sponsorship campaign for Bob Costas, you are dumb."
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