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Bob Costas exposes NBC, NFL over his removal from 2018 Super Bowl coverage.

By Jimmy Traina
February 11, 2019

1. If you missed it Sunday morning, ESPN's E:60 ran an interview with Bob Costas and it was a doozy.

The former NBC star exposed the network for removing him from the 2018 Super Bowl over his comments about the NFL's concussion problem.

E:60 did a tremendous job laying out the entire story here and my takeaway is that while Costas deserves credit for finally revealing the truth about NBC being scared of the NFL and the NFL being a big bad bully, there are really no winners in this soap opera.

Let's start with Costas. He repeatedly made it clear over the years that he had a problem with the violence in the NFL. He was never shy about expressing that opinion.  

"As I got closer and closer to the game, I became ambivalent about it," Costas told ESPN. "The sheer violence of the game, and then the celebration of that violence, even before CTE became a specific issue ... I just didn't feel comfortable with that. That felt stupid to me."

So Costas, who said he asked to be taken off NFL broadcasts in 1993 because he was uncomfortable with the sport, returned to being part of NFL coverage in 2005 when NBC acquired Sunday Night Football.

So why take the gig when you have such a problem with the league? According to the ESPN story, Costas said then-NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol asked him to return as host and he agreed "out of loyalty" and "as kind of a good soldier."

That's weak. Sorry.

Costas could've done -- and not done -- anything he wanted at NBC in 2005. He was the King of the sports department and easily could've passed on the role. Instead, he took the job, and spent many, many years criticizing the NFL (as detailed in the ESPN story) on several platforms, all while taking a check for being part of the NFL coverage. Can't have it both ways.

In 2005, NBC killed a halftime essay by Costas that had the following excerpt: "Even as the ratings rise, so, too, does a certain ambivalence. Because as much as we may try to push it into the background, there's a kind of Russian roulette going on on the field tonight and on our television screens throughout the fall and winter, since we know that for all the game's appeal, many of its participants will one day pay dearly for their part in our national obsession."

So you want to drop those words at halftime and then say, "And right after these commercials, it's the second half of Cowboys-Giants here on NBC" and then get the direct deposit into your account later in the week for your work? Come on. Talk about the proverbial wanting your cake...

Of course, Costas doesn't come off half as bad as NBC and Roger Goodell in the ESPN report. 

The NFL knows it has a concussion problem, but they try to hide the commissioner as much as possible. Costas wanted to interview Goodell during the pregame show of last year's Super Bowl. Goodell said no. An NFL spokesperson said Goodell is normally not interviewed on Super Bowl Sunday. So? If NBC, which pays BILLIONS, not millions, for NFL rights, asks for Goodell, the NFL should give NBC Goodell. The networks are expected to be good partners, but the NFL doesn't have to reciprocate? Bush league.

One thing the NFL has perfected is the art of denial. The league denies getting Playmakers cancelled on ESPN. It denies having anything to do with ESPN ending its partnership with PBS's Frontline on League of Denial, a documentary that explored the NFL's concusison problem. It denies having anything to do with NBC pulling Costas off the Super Bowl last season. But does any human being with a brain buy the NFL's "we're innocent" nonsense? 

As for NBC, like CBS, FOX and ESPN, it is petrified of the NFL and will do anyting the league wants, and while that isn't exactly news and it is business, it's just so weak. How weak? Check out this excerpt from the ESPN piece:

"NBC declined to license ESPN its footage involving Costas in a video version of this story that aired on E:60. Costas repeatedly suggested that Outside the Lines reach out to his longtime NBC producer and one of his closest friends, Bruce Cornblatt, saying he would be an excellent resource who would be happy to talk. Cornblatt, though, did not respond to calls and, ultimately, sent a text saying he declined to comment; asked why, Cornblatt didn't respond. Outside the Lines asked an NBC spokesman whether Cornblatt had been told not to cooperate, and the spokesman denied that was the case."

Ah, yes, another denial that no one on earth believes.

2. Sports Business Journal's John Ourand will be the guest on this week's SI Media Podcast, out Wednesday (subscribe here). Today he has news about the NFL's Thanksgiving Day games and they are eh.

3. Knicks fan were treated to this piece of subliminal marketing over the weekend.

However, once the use of Kevin Durant to sell tickets became a big deal on Twitter, the Knicks took the ad down and claimed ignorance.

4. A-Rod seems to be using the same awful tanning techniques as the former host of The Apprentice.

5. If you missed it Saturday night, recent SI Media Podcast guest Bill Walton ate a lit candle on national television.

6. The man who broke the story about ESPN firing Baseball Tonight host Adnan VirkNew York Post sports media reporter Andrew Marchand joined the latest SI Media Podcast to give all the details on the wild story. Marchand explains how ESPN found out about Virk reportedly leaking information to Awful Announcing and why the network decided to fire him instead of suspend him.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on iTunes.

7. DUET VIDEO OF THE DAY: During the Grammy's on Sunday night, I tweeted my disappointment over not being treated to Islands in the Stream during the Dolly Parton tribute. A lot of followers seemed to be in agreement, so I'm going to feature nothing but duets here this week and we kick things off with a classic.

Traina Thoughts is the best of the Internet, plus musings by SI.com writer, Jimmy Traina. Get the link to a new Traina's Thoughts each day by following on Twitter and liking on Facebook. Catch up on previous editions of Traina Thoughts right here. And make sure to listen to and subscribe to the SI Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina.

IN CLOSING: "Ex-NFL QB Christian Hackenberg Has Poor AAF Debut" is a headline that should surprise no one.

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