Bob Costas had planned on hosting one final Super Bowl in 2018 before stepping away from NBC but was yanked from coverage following his comments about football’s link to brain damage, the veteran sportscaster told ESPN.
“I think the words were, ‘You’ve crossed the line,’” Costas told ESPN in an article posted Sunday. “My thought was, ‘What line have I crossed?’”
According to Costas, who insists there are no hard feelings with the network, he had made his comments about football, concussions and brain injury at a Maryland journalism symposium in November 2017. Following the symposium, Costas’ comments — including “The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains” — were picked up by the Washington Post.
After WaPo published Costas’ quotes, which also included “if I had an athletically gifted 12- or 13-year-old son, I would not let him play football,” NBC released a statement saying, “Bob’s opinions are his own, and they do not represent those of the NBC Sports Group.” Costas then told CNN that he was not being critical of NBC but stood by his opinions on brain damage.
Costas told ESPN that he quickly received the “crossed the line” text from NBC and soon thereafter was axed from the Super Bowl broadcast. Costas said to ESPN, “I recall the phrase, ‘It’s a six-hour, daylong celebration of football, and you’re not the right person to celebrate football.’ To which my response was not, ‘Oh please, please, change your mind.’ My response was, ‘Yeah, I guess you’re right.’”
“It’s very fair and very amicable,” said Costas, who left NBC Sports in January but will keep his ties to the MLB Network. “It was a very, very fruitful run of nearly four decades, and I have nothing but respect and appreciation for all of it.”