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Why Bob Costas got dropped from the Super Bowl
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Has Achieved Nirvana
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tl;dr He spoke the truth about how dangerous football is.

quote:
IN 2015, COSTAS was invited to a November screening of "Concussion" in Hollywood. He was moved by the film and even thought Will Smith might earn an Oscar nod for his performance as Dr. Bennet Omalu, the neuropathologist who had ignited the NFL's concussion crisis a decade earlier by first positing that former players had died with a brain disease caused by football.

NBC was scheduled to air Indianapolis at Pittsburgh on Dec. 6. The movie was set largely in Pittsburgh, and former Steelers great Mike Webster was a major character in the story.

"It was a natural lead-in," Costas told Outside the Lines. "I thought that the movie would make an impact, and I thought this was a way not only for NBC to acknowledge it, but to get out in front of it."

Costas typically wrote his essays on the fly on game day, sometimes even as the first quarter of the Sunday night matchup was under way. This time, though, he wrote it in advance to give his bosses an early look, recognizing it could create problems.

The essay, which has never been made public but was provided to Outside the Lines, began with a description of Omalu as "the neuropathologist who clearly demonstrated what just about everybody now understands -- but which for years the league denied: There is a direct and often tragic link between football and brain damage."

Costas says he sought to mitigate the potential embarrassment for the NFL by highlighting its efforts to improve player safety. "I purposely toned it down," he says.

He wrote, "To its credit, the NFL now has put millions into medical research and the possibility of improving equipment. They have instituted rules changes aimed at making the game safer, awareness programs aimed at youth football, and stricter head trauma protocols, which, even if they don't always work, at least appear to be a step in the right direction."

But Costas didn't hold back: "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."

Costas says he submitted the essay to Ebersol's successor, NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus, and executive producer Sam Flood and awaited their response.

"I remember the reaction almost verbatim. They said, 'This is a very well-written piece, wouldn't change a comma. We can't air it."

Costas says he asked why.

"We're in negotiations with the NFL for Thursday Night Football," he says he was told.

"It was at that point that I realized that this was an untenable situation for me," he says. "I knew my days there were numbered."


quote:
By this point, Costas' line at Maryland -- This game destroys people's brains -- had gone viral, raising hackles in the NBC offices. The New York Daily News asked NBC for comment, and a spokesman responded, "Bob's opinions are his own, and they do not represent those of the NBC Sports Group" -- prompting a story from Raissman under the headline, "NBC throws Bob Costas under the bus and in the process sends warning to rest of its talent."

Sensing a budding problem with his employer, Costas says he decided to appear on CNN on Saturday morning to make it clear he wasn't being critical of NBC. So, for the third time in a week, Costas was talking publicly about football and brain damage. He didn't soften any of his comments -- in fact, he reiterated them -- but he did attempt to defend the network.

"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,'" Costas told host Michael Smerconish. "And I think NBC Sports deserves credit for this."

Within an hour, Costas says he received a text from Flood, who oversees sports production for NBC.

"I think the words were, 'You've crossed the line,'" says Costas, who says he no longer has the text.

"My thought was, 'What line have I crossed?'"

Later, Costas says he pointed out that he had been saying these things about football for years -- often on NBC. That didn't matter; it seemed this was one time too many.

Costas was told he was off the Super Bowl LII broadcast.

"I recall the phrase, 'It's a six-hour, daylong celebration of football, and you're not the right person to celebrate football,'" Costas says. "To which my response was not, 'Oh please, please, change your mind.' My response was, 'Yeah, I guess you're right.'"


http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/s...ed-football-nbc-espn


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Posts: 23179 | Location: Somewhere in the middle | Registered: 19 January 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If you think football is some modern equivalent of the Roman Coliseum, where both winners and losers go home damaged in some way, I'm wondering why you'd want to be the person who calls the play-by-play.

Maybe the story shouldn't be why Bob Costas got dropped from the Super Bowl, but rather why Bob Costas won't (or maybe shouldn't) do football any more.

Moving past football, health issues abound in sports. Lindsey Vonn is retiring because she says that her body is literally breaking down. That's probably true of many skiers. Soccer presents an enormous risk of concussions (second to football, I've read). I've read so many articles about athletes who, after retirement, have no cartilage left in their knees, I can hardly summon specific names. How many pictures of rugby players missing teeth have you seen?

All of which is to say, there's a larger societal issue at play here. Football may be the worst offender, but really this is more an indictment of the human condition in some ways.
 
Posts: 42136 | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I had that very thought. If he had the thought that his position was untenable than this should have been his choice.


How did he think the 'untenability' would resolve? He stay and football leave? Maybe he would get to preside over the winding down of the league?
 
Posts: 30565 | Location: On the Hudson | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Maybe the story shouldn't be why Bob Costas got dropped from the Super Bowl, but rather why Bob Costas won't (or maybe shouldn't) do football any more.


Yes, and the fact that he wasn't at all upset, more relieved, is pretty telling.

quote:
All of which is to say, there's a larger societal issue at play here. Football may be the worst offender, but really this is more an indictment of the human condition in some ways.


Yes, except that football is the worst offender in multiple ways, 1) starting with the point that brain damage is, to my mind, much more egregious than other kinds of damage. Losing your mind really doesn't compare to losing your knees. 2) And then there's the race and class issue. The number of black players, the number of players from poor backgrounds, is much higher for football than skiing for example. Although, I bet the same could be said of soccer, esp outside of the US.

So I'm not saying that we should ignore the damage that other sports do, and maybe soccer needs to be looked at more closely. But I do think football is the worst offender, by several orders of magnitude, and that's saying a lot.


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Posts: 11734 | Location: not in Japan any more | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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This is the human condition we need to change: We have to stop worshipping the extremes. For just about any sports, training and playing to be the best put extreme stresses on the bodies, and that heightens the risks for injuries and latent health issues down the line. To drastically reduce sports induced injuries and latent health issues, we have to change our value system to celebrate the slightly above average rather than to celebrate the best.


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Posts: 10855 | Registered: 01 December 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Comparative rates of concussions.

"Game Play

Men’s rugby match play (3.00/1,000 AE)
Men’s American football (2.5/1,000 AE)
Women’s ice hockey (2.27/1,000 AE)
Men’s Ice hockey (1.63/1,000 AE)
Women’s soccer (1.48/1,000 AE)
Men’s football (or soccer) (1.07/1,000 AE)"


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'How far y'all going?' Ruby asked us with a sigh.
'We're going all the way 'till the wheels fall off and burn.
Till the sun peels the paint and the seat covers fade and the water moccasin dies'.



 
Posts: 20541 | Location: Still living at 9000 feet in the High Rockies of Colorado | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Then again, Fox News has its views and facts.


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'How far y'all going?' Ruby asked us with a sigh.
'We're going all the way 'till the wheels fall off and burn.
Till the sun peels the paint and the seat covers fade and the water moccasin dies'.



 
Posts: 20541 | Location: Still living at 9000 feet in the High Rockies of Colorado | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I've always felt that gymnastics was organized sanctioned child abuse.

I appreciate that sports have some danger - but...there's a lot of unnecessary danger - to what end?
 
Posts: 9212 | Registered: 22 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Decisions should be informed by the responses of retired top level athletes to the question, 'was it worth it?'.

Freedom includes being allowed to make choices to trade damage for gain. Almost all prescription medicines carry that trade off.

The chance to be the very best at something comes to so few. and Life cant be lived entirely safely. Regulate, educate, work to reduce damage, yes. In CA, parents AND THE KID have to sign a document stating they've read the risks of concussion, signs, symptoms, long term possibilities etc. That's going in the right direction toward informed consent. Giving % is another step - thanks for posting the relative incidence of concussion to ?AE = adverse event? I think perhaps we also need to know the incidence of 'AE' to understand the stats in context.


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Posts: 2599 | Registered: 07 April 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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They banned six-day bicycle racing in the US because it was deemed cruel and inhumane. All that was was a bunch of guys riding around a track to see who could do the most laps in six days.

To paraphrase Individual 1: No Concussion!


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Posts: 26700 | Registered: 27 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Another reason six-day bicycle racing was banned was due to very high amphetamine use.
The organizers trying to keep cycling clean today say it is because drug use killed bicycle racing in this county before.


--------------------------------
'How far y'all going?' Ruby asked us with a sigh.
'We're going all the way 'till the wheels fall off and burn.
Till the sun peels the paint and the seat covers fade and the water moccasin dies'.



 
Posts: 20541 | Location: Still living at 9000 feet in the High Rockies of Colorado | Registered: 20 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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