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Volume 25 No. 239
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NBC Sports "Very Disappointed" In Costas' Comments In ESPN Interview

Costas said he was in an untenable situation after NBC opted not to share his concussion essay
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

An NBC spokesperson in a statement said the network was "very disappointed" in Bob Costas' interview with ESPN in which he chose to "mischaracterize and share" private interactions with NBC execs, according to Mark Fainaru-Wada of ESPN.com. Costas in '17 also appeared on CNN to discuss issues surrounding the NFL, including concussions, saying, "I've been saying these things for the better part of a decade, and often on NBC, in front of the biggest audience not just in all of sports, but in all of television -- 'Sunday Night Football.' And I think NBC Sports deserves credit for this." Within an hour of his interview, Costas said that he "received a text" from NBC Exec Producer Sam Flood. Costas: "I think the words were, 'You've crossed the line.'" The NBC statement continued,  "We have historically given our commentators a lot of leeway to speak on our air about issues and controversies, and Bob has benefited most from this policy" (ESPN.com, 2/10). Costas said of his discussions with NBC execs, "I remember reminding them of things going back to the '90s, of what I had done, what credibility I would have to comment about these things. Their reaction to that was, ‘You're right, but this puts us in a position that's untenable for us so you can't do the Super Bowl.’” Costas called '17 one of the "most newsworthy years in the history" of the NFL and said he pitched a Super Bowl pregame interview with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Costas: "They made the request to Roger Goodell directly and Goodell declined" ("E:60," ESPN2, 2/10). 

PEELING BACK THE LAYERS: Costas said it crossed his mind "many times" that he might have to stop sharing his views on concussions with him being the face of the NFL on NBC. Costas' tenure with NBC ended earlier this year, and he was not part of the net's Super Bowl LII coverage last year. After the premiere of the movie "Concussion," Costas said he wanted to address the concussion issue. Costas: “I proposed a very carefully crafted halftime essay that would give the NFL full credit for the steps it had taken, perhaps belatedly, to try to cope with the crisis.” Costas said he toned down the essay. Costas: "They said, 'This is a very well written piece. We wouldn't change a comma, but we can't air it. We are in negotiations with the NFL for 'Thursday Night Football.''" After NBC decided to not air the essay, Costas said he was in an “untenable situation.” Costas: “Did it make me think that the people for whom I worked and with whom I worked were not good people, not talented people, not people I liked, appreciated, and respected? No, but they had different concerns than I had. … The networks, all of them dance to the NFL's tune. Everyone walks on egg shells around the NFL"  ("E:60," ESPN2, 2/10).