Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas has had an exemplary career. Back in 2017, Mr. Costas was ready to wrap up his career in football broadcasting with NBC during the Super Bowl; however, he was pulled from the broadcast at the last minute. He has spoken out, claiming he was pulled from the Super Bowl for comments made about the connection between concussions sustained while playing football and long-term side effects.
In his lengthy career, Mr. Costas has hosted Sunday Night Football, Super Bowls, Olympic Games, World Series, NBA Finals, and Triple Crown horse races, among others; however, he is not able to list hosting the 2017 Super Bowl among his accomplishments. Three months prior to the 2017 Super Bowl, Mr. Costas was at an event in Maryland where he discussed the growing concerns about brain injuries related to football. While at the event, he stated, “The issue that is most substantial — the existential issue — is the nature of football itself. The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains.”
This is not news to the public or the National Football League (NFL). Evidence of a link between concussions sustained while playing football and long-term neurological conditions has existed for decades, and the past few years have seen public outcry over the sport. Mr. Costas went on to say, “I certainly would not let, if I had an athletically gifted 12- or 13-year-old son, I would not let him play football.” These comments obtained quite a bit of media attention and just days later, NBC executives told him he “crossed the line” and pulled him from the 2017 Super Bowl.
Because professional football draws such a huge crowd to TV screens, NBC makes millions of dollars in advertising during televised NFL games. So it’s no surprise that any comments about concussions and football led to an immediate reaction. The NFL has been pulling stunts like this for decades. It took many years for the broader public to be made aware of the dangers of football because the NFL and other sports organizations like the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) worked hard to stifle criticism.
Sports organizations could only keep the dangers of concussions under wraps for so long. The NFL has faced thousands of lawsuits from former players who have suffered the long-term effects of concussions. While the NFL has settled these lawsuits, the NCAA is still facing thousands of concussion lawsuits.