Bob Costas has long been an outspoken critic about the dangers playing football can pose to the athletes who take to the gridiron, and some of that chatter resulted in NBC Sports’ decision to part ways with the legendary sportscaster, according to an in-depth report from ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”
In the report, Costas details how his decision to talk to NBC Sports viewers about challenges the National Football League faced in regard to the physical toll the game took on its players became unwelcome by executives. “The networks, all of them, dance to the NFL’s tune. It’s just kind of the way it goes. Everyone walks on eggshells around the NFL,” Costas told ESPN.
Costas left NBC Sports formally in January after working for NBC Sports for four decades. His last contract was to have run through 2021. He will continue to work as a baseball announcer for MLB Network.
The breaking point in the relationship appears to be an essay Costas wrote for his once-usual address on “Football Night in America,” the pre-game show before NBC’s broadcast of “Sunday Night Football.” “Even as the ratings rise, so, too, does a certain ambivalence. Because as much as we may try to push it into the background, there’s a kind of Russian roulette going on on the field tonight and on our television screens throughout the fall and winter, since we know that for all the game’s appeal, many of its participants will one day pay dearly for their part in our national obsession,” he wrote. NBC Sports declined to air it.