Elliott, who spent nearly a decade working at ESPN and ABC, began by explaining that making the switch between networks was not an easy decision.
“Coming here was the best decision for me, but it was a decision that was tough to make,” Elliot said. “It was bittersweet. It was made with a degree of melancholy and it was made with a heavy heart.”
When asked about making the transition from on-air personality to “the last man on the bench,” Elliot said being on the air every day was never something he needed.
“If a day goes by that I’m not on television, I don’t look at it as a lesser day, nor do I look at changing from a news world to a sports world as any sort of step other than a step in a new direction,” he explained. “The ability to join this team – to be the rookie on this team – is really what I want for myself personally.”
Elliott added that no news role has been discussed with him as of yet and, when asked about the possibility of eventually succeeding “Today” anchor Matt Lauer, he said, “I hope Matt Lauer is here when I step away from this gig 30 years down the road.”
While he didn’t get into specifics, Elliott said he looks forward to telling stories and providing sports content across NBC’s multiple platforms.
Lazarus said that Elliott will be a key player in NBC’s Olympics coverage and his duties at the network will begin with the upcoming Kentucky Derby. Lazarus also mentioned that the network is in discussions about its coverage of the French Open, golf majors, the NFL’s opening night and the Super Bowl, all of which would involve Elliott.
“He was a journalist, a reporter, a host, an anchor. He’s done hard interviews. He’s done soft interviews,” Lazarus said. “You’ll see a mixture of that. You’ll see him hosting in some areas and interviews and reporting in other areas. … It’s still early and we’re planning.”
Elliott expressed confidence in his successor, Amy Robach, and said knowing she would be replacing him made his departure a bit less difficult.
Even so, Elliott hasn’t been immune to the media backlash following his network move. While he said this type of reaction was probably inevitable, he also shared that it has been hard to swallow at times.
“It’s been difficult to read categorical falsehood after categorical falsehood,” Elliott said. “To be in the center of whatever this has been the last couple of days has been incredibly uncomfortable and, at times, very painful.”
Elliott said he had no reaction to ABC News prexy Ben Sherwood’s comments about their contract negotiations and credited Sherwood with taking a chance on him.
“Ben was crazy to give me a shot. He took a huge gamble,” Elliott said. “He is and always will be the reason I’m here.”