During the 1980s, the voice of Pat O’Brien was equated with sports. O’Brien was mostly known for his lengthy run as a sportscaster with CBS and was one of the best in the business. When Pat O’Brien was in front of the camera for a sporting event, it was usually big time. O’Brien covered the Super Bowl, World Series, Olympic Games, Final Fours, and more. From there, he became a successful entertainment anchor. Behind the scenes, however, O’Brien was battling substance abuse which led to the eventual downfall of his career.
Pat O’Brien’s successful career
Pat O’Brien got his start in the communications field by working for KSOO TV-Radio in South Dakota. After graduating from college in 1970, he worked his way up the latter and headed to Los Angeles where he joined KNXT-TV in 1977 and won four local Emmy Awards.
O’Brien was best known for his run at CBS that lasted from 1981-1997 where he did many pregame shows. O’Brien covered six Olympic Games and also was part of big-time events such as the Super Bowl and the World Series. He also became a regular on the very successful NFL Today with Lesley Visser, Greg Gumbel and Terry Bradshaw.
O’Brien left sports for entertainment in 1997 when signed on to be the co-host of Access Hollywood. He remained with Access Hollywood until 2004. At that point, O’Brien moved on to host the newly formed Insider. He held that position until 2008.
Pat O’Brien’s battle with substance abuse and its affect on his work
While O’Brien was smiling in front of the camera and putting on his show, he was struggling behind the scenes. O’Brien was a drinker. Oftentimes, he would drink himself into embarrassing situations. One of those times came in 2005 and it proved costly.
According to The Yakima Herald, multiple sexually graphic voicemails left on a woman’s phone by O’Brien circulated throughout and became public. O’Brien, who had been in rehab, said he was in a blackout at the time. “I embarrassed myself — nobody got hurt — and I embarrassed my son,” he said. “How many people have done that? But it was my voice, and I realize that it was part of my drinking problem.”
Despite the embarrassment, O’Brien continued to drink. On Election Day of 2008, he found himself face down on a Nantucket beach after consuming 14 bottles of win that day. “And I’m lucky I didn’t die; I almost died,” he said. “My last few drinks were 14 bottles of wine in one day.” O’Brien was fired in 2008 for sending out an ill-advised email blasting his replacement as he was out on leave, according to The New York Post.
O’Brien back on track
In The Yakima Herald article, which was published in 2016, O’Brien said he’s on the road to recovery. He said he hadn’t had a drink in eight years. He said he had a choice: stop drinking or die. “All you need to do is stop drinking, get to know yourself and figure it out,” he said. “For me, I had no choice. It was that or die. And I’ve got things to do.”
O’Brien has been on top of the world and he’s been at rock bottom. He’s learned from it and he is there to help others, if needed.
“They always say you have to give what you learn, give it back, so I speak a lot to recovering alcoholics who just got into the program,” he said. “I’m very interested in helping people with addictions, alcoholism, mental health. As long as I’m the poster boy for alcoholism, I might as well use it.”