When the Philadelphia Eagles take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52, one familiar face will not grace your television screen. When NBC announced its roster for the big dance, Bob Costas did not appear on it. The reason for the switch-up might surprise you — and may have to do with comments Costas himself made in the past.
Costas will not return to the Super Bowl broadcast team
Last February, Costas said he intended to step back from his on-air role for major sporting events, according to Deadspin. The familiar face appeared on the roster for six Super Bowls, but will not return for a seventh. He also does not intend to appear at the Winter Olympics. Mike Tirico will take over for that event.
Next: A familiar announcing crew will take over, instead.
The Sunday night football team will stay intact
According to Sporting News, Sunday night host Dan Patrick and Thursday night host Liam McHugh will take hosting duties in Minneapolis. Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Mike Florio, and Chris Simms will play significant pre-game roles. In addition, Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth will call the game.
“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 said he approved the move. “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.”
Next: But who made the call that took Costas out of the game?
He made the decision himself
Costas himself actually decided to bow out, according to a scoop by Sports Business Daily. The longtime announcer said the decision comes as both simple and straightforward. “I have been making the same points for several years, often on NBC,” he said. “I have addressed the issue of football and its undeniable connection to brain trauma many times. Why? Because the evidence is overwhelming and the effects are often devastating.”
Next: He said he could not live with these shocking stats.
Costas could not reconcile the danger of the game
In July, researchers found Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease, in 99% of former NFL players’ brains, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study examined 202 donated brains from men who played football at the high school, college, and professional level. They found evidence of CTE in 177 of them. Among NFL players, 110 of 111 brains showed signs of CTE.
Next: Experts said the evidence looks irrefutable.
Doctors agree — the game poses major risks
“There’s no question that there’s a problem in football. That people who play football are at risk for this disease,” Dr. Ann McKee, the director of Boston University’s CTE Center and the coauthor of the study, told CNN. “And we urgently need to find answers for not just football players, but veterans and other individuals exposed to head trauma.” A previous study also examined the brains of 165 former players. Those researchers said 96% of the former NFL players’ brains showed signs of CTE.
Next: Costas said he could no longer ignore the stats.
Some wonder if these comments set the stage
A number of observers asked whether Costas’ absence stems from comments he made about football at the University of Maryland in November. At that time, Costas participated in a roundtable discussion with several other national journalists. He painted a grim picture for the sport. “The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains,” Costas said during the discussion, according to USA Today.
Next: Costas decided he could not change the system from the inside.
He would not let his own son play the game
“The cracks in the foundation are there,” Costas said, of the NFL. “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. … If I had an athletically gifted 12- or 13-year-old son, I would not let him play football.” The announcer called the NFL a “house of cards” that he expected to collapse if people began actually paying attention. That remains to be seen, but we will not see Costas behind the mic in Minneapolis.