Over the past four decades, there has been one sports commentator for NBC who has stood out above the rest, and that’s Bob Costas. Unfortunately, Bob has surprised a great many people by asking the network for an early release from his contract, which isn’t due to expire until 2021.
In an interview with USA Today, he commented, “There was a very long period of time when NBC’s programming suited my interests and abilities very well, from [late-night talk show] Later, to the news magazines, to baseball, the NBA, and the Olympics. And after deciding on my own to leave the Olympics after having done a dozen of them, you just look around and say, ‘What was once a perfect fit no longer fits that description.’” He added to The New York Post, “Sometimes you get to a point where it is not a fit anymore. It doesn’t mean that anyone is angry or upset.”
Also according to the Post, “Costas wants to pursue a journalism show that would feature interviews, commentaries, and a critical look at the world of sports and perhaps other topics. NBC rarely utilizes Costas on-air after he stepped away from his last major roles on the Olympics and the NFL.”
If he did pursue a show of his own, it would likely be fascinating. Even beyond sports, Bob proved himself to be an adept interviewer with the rare ability of drawing the viewer into subjects that they couldn’t care less about — his 1988-1994 show Later was a prime example of that — but they absolutely cared about the conversations he engaged in.
Bob joined NBC Sports in the early 1980s and, over the decades, served as host for the network’s airing of the National Football League, provided play-by-play for the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball, served as host of the US Open golf tournament from 2003-2013, hosted coverage of the NHL Winter Classic from 2008-2010, and was a part of the Olympics from 1988-2016. As if that wasn’t enough, and beyond Later, he also served as host of the syndicated radio show Costas Coast to Coast from 1986 to 1996, plus three more years as Costas on the Radio.
Over the past couple of years, he has slowly been stepping away from previously-held positions, preferring to serve as more of a special event commentator — much like former news anchor Tom Brokaw. His departure from the network will be a loss for both NBC and the audience.