It’s understandable that Bob Costas has one of the more recognizable faces because of the many years he has spent in sports media. It’s just that people have this knack of recognizing him as anybody other than Bob Costas.
Costas should have seen it coming based on the reaction he got when he landed his first big job in sports broadcasting.
Bob Costas has compiled an impressive resume
The list of sportscasters who learned their trade as students at Syracuse University is long and distinguished. Among the well-known names currently active in the business are Ian Eagle, Marv Albert, Mike Tirico, Sean McDonough, Beth Mowins, Andrew Siciliano, and Bob Costas.
Costas landed his first network role in 1980 when Don Ohlmeyer hired him for play-by-play and studio work at NBC. Costas was 28 at the time, but Ohlmeyer looked at his youthful face and diminutive (5-foot-7) stature and observed that his new hire looked like a 14-year-old.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Ohlmeyer wondered how much older Costas would look on the screen if he grew facial hair. When Costas replied that a beard would make him look five years older, “Don perked up,” Costas recalled. “Then I said, ‘Because that’s how long it would take me to grow it.’ And that ended the beard idea.”
Of course, substance trumped style in Costas’ career. He did NBA, NFL, and MLB play-by-play at NBC in addition to hosting golf telecasts and playing prominent roles in coverage of the Olympics. He also hosted a variety of sports and general interest talk shows.
His baseball expertise and passion for the sport have occasionally resulted in calls for him to be appointed as Major League Baseball’s commissioner.
Bob Costas suffers constant variations of the same insult
The thousands of hours of screen time he has logged on TV should make Bob Costas’ face stand out in a crowd. As he explained while speaking at a February 2020 charity event, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Apparently, viewers are so focused on the athletes on the field that the faces in the booth don’t register in their minds.
On any given day while boarding planes on his way to another assignment or walking through hotel lobbies, Costas would find himself being mistaken for Brent Musberger (slightly understandable), Marv Albert (less plausible), or Bryant Gumbel (no way).
“One time a man extended his hand and said ‘Hello, Bryant’” Costas said, according to the Palm Beach Daily News, “and I said, ‘This is getting so old. I’m Greg Gumbel, not Bryant Gumbel.”
Don King mistook the NBC personality for an actor
One of the more memorable episodes of someone forgetting who Bob Costas was took place in 2016 before the memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville. Costas spilled the details about his brief exchange with boxing promoter Don King last week while appearing on Mike Greenberg’s ESPN radio show.
“For an hour or so, people are gathering and talking in small clusters when in comes Don King in a full Don King getup,” Costas recalled. “He greets each person with a short, biographical sketch. So, he says, ‘Mike Tyson, once the most feared man in the ring’, ‘Sugar Ray Leonard, not a mark on him, still as beautiful as a child.’
“And he turns to me and goes, ‘Michael J. Fox.’ Katie Couric goes, very gently, ‘Don, it’s Bob Costas’. King is so shameless (that) without missing a beat he says, ‘Bob Costas, greatest commentator in the world.’”