Bob Costas tells ESPN in a story published Sunday that he has come to regret his tell-all interview about how he was removed from NBC’s Super Bowl LII coverage over his comments about concussions.
Costas has repeatedly spoken out both on-the-air and in public appearances about the frequency of concussions among football players and criticized the NFL about its dealing with it. In the televised interview on “Outside the Lines” and a companion story released Sunday by ESPN, reporter Mark Fainuru-Wada noted how concerned Costas was that he damaged his relationship with NBC by speaking out.
“What was surprising about Costas was not that he was concerned that he might offend anyone at NBC, but how concerned he was,” Fainuru-Wada wrote. “Over the past few months, rarely did a conversation take place without ‘Outside the Lines’ having to reassure Costas that the story would reflect his respect and admiration for his colleagues, and that he held no ill will toward them or NBC.”
“In the end,” Fainuru-Wada continued, “Costas says he regretted ever taking part in the story; not because he regretted his comments about football, but because of the strain it created around his relationships with NBC colleagues.”
Fainuru-Wada also noted that Costas had repeatedly insisted that he holds no ill feelings towards NBC for removing him from Super Bowl coverage, and added that ESPN repeatedly reassured the sportscaster that the story would not suggest that he was bitter towards NBC.
“It’s very fair and very amicable,” Costas told ESPN about his departure from NBC last year. “It was a very, very fruitful run of nearly four decades, and I have nothing but respect and appreciation for all of it.”
Costas spoke out frequently about the danger of serious head injuries in the sport, even before the National Football League admitted to the problem. At a journalism symposium at the University of Maryland he said, “The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains — not everyone’s, but a substantial number.”
After speaking about the issue again on CNN, he received a text from NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood, telling him he would not appear on the network’s Super Bowl broadcast in early 2018.
“I recall the phrase, ‘It’s a six-hour, daylong celebration of football, and you’re not the right person to celebrate football,'” Costas said. “To which my response was not, ‘Oh please, please, change your mind.’ My response was, ‘Yeah, I guess you’re right.'”
“I was completely comfortable with it, I had no personal stake in hosting, I was happy football was in my rearview mirror.”