Report: Bob Costas Removed from Super Bowl LII Broadcast Over Concussion Comments
A year after his conspicuous absence from the Super Bowl LII broadcast, NBC Sports veteran Bob Costas revealed he was removed from the network's coverage due to comments he made about the NFL's concussion problems.
In a report by ESPN's Outside the Lines, Costas details an exchange he had with NBC prior to the Sunday Night Football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts. It was Dec. 2015, and the movie "Concussion" was about to be released. As Costas was preparing his weekly halftime essay, he noted a connection with former Steelers great Mike Webster, who was a prominent figure in the movie.
"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 submitted his essay to NBC Sports executives in advance but was told he couldn't air it because the network was bidding for the NFL's Thursday Night Football package.
"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."
Three months before the Super Bowl, Costas appeared at a journalism symposium at the University of Maryland, where he told the crowd that "the issue [in sports that is most substantial—the existential issue—is the nature of football itself."
"The reality is that this game destroys people's brains—not everyone's, but a substantial number," Costas added during the symposium. "It's not a small number, it's a considerable number. It destroys their brains."
Costas was told by NBC afterward that he had "crossed the line" with his commentary about the NFL and concussions.
“I remember being told that now I can no longer host the Super Bowl,” Costas said. “I think the words were, ‘You’ve crossed the line’ and my thought was, ‘What line have I crossed?’”
Costas continued on to say he did not dispute the network's decision.
"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.'"
An NBC spokesman provided a statement to ESPN that read, "We have historically given our commentators a lot of leeway to speak on our air about issues and controversies, and Bob has benefited most from this policy. We're very disappointed that after 40 years with NBC, he has chosen to mischaracterize and share these private interactions."
Last month, word leaked out that the now 66-year-old and NBC had agreed to part ways even though he was still under contract through 2021.