Bob Costas will not be part of NBC’s coverage of Super Bowl 52, news that has surprised the sports media world since it’s a departure from plans Costas outlined about a year ago.
Last February, when Costas announced he was stepping down as primetime host of NBC’s Olympic coverage, a role to be filled by Mike Tirico at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, he said he expected this year’s Super Bowl to be his football broadcasting swan song. Costas has hosted six Super Bowls throughout his career.
Not this year, though, as NBC plans to keep its “Football Night in America” team intact. Sunday night host Dan Patrick and Thursday night host Liam McHugh will handle hosting duties in Minneapolis, while Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Mike Florio and Chris Simms will also have prominent pre-game roles. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, of course, will call the game between the Eagles and Patriots.
Costas’ absence has sports media observers wondering if comments he made about football at the University of Maryland in November is the reason why. During a roundtable discussion with several other national journalists, Costas painted a doom-and-gloom sort of picture for the sport, vis a vis head injuries.
“The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains,” Costas said during the discussion, per USA Today.
“The cracks in the foundation are there. The day-to-day issues, as serious as they may be, they may come and go. But you cannot change the nature of the game. I certainly would not let, if I had an athletically gifted 12- or 13-year-old son, I would not let him play football.
He continued, “The whole thing could collapse like a house of cards if people actually begin connecting the dots."
NBC made no mention of that discussion, however, in a pair of statements issued in response to questions about Costas, one of which was attributed to Costas himself.
“Dan and Liam have served as hosts for our NFL pregame/studio shows on Sunday nights and Thursday nights, respectively, throughout the season and will continue on Super Bowl Sunday,” an NBC spokesperson said.
Costas’ statement, written solidly along the company line, read, “Dan and Liam have done the job hosting NBC’s NFL coverage all season. It wouldn’t be right for me to parachute in and do the Super Bowl.”