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Greg Gumbel: ‘The Only Thing a Broadcaster Can Do Is Chase People Away’: TRAINA THOUGHTS

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1. Thanks to the monster contract that CBS gave Tony Romo in 2020 (in the range of $17 million–$18 million per year), NFL broadcaster salaries have exploded. The contracts of many top announcers expired recently, and Romo’s deal was clearly used as a benchmark.

While covering this story over the past several weeks, I’ve gotten the same comment over and over from fans who are dumbfounded by the astronomical salaries being handed out: Nobody watches a game for the broadcasters.

During an interview on this week’s SI Media Podcast, I asked CBS’s Greg Gumbel, who was the network’s lead NFL voice from 1998 to 2003, what he thought about all the cash being given to the top broadcasters across the networks and he echoed that comment.

“I will tell you, it has gotten crazy. I don’t have any need to be jealous of it. I’ve been treated really nicely and have always been appreciative of what I’ve been able to do for a long, long time. So I think that doesn’t apply to me. What does tickle my thought process is, I’ve never felt in my entire life there is an announcer who can bring someone to the TV set to watch a game that that viewer wasn’t already going to watch. And I believe the only thing a broadcaster can do is chase people away.

“I know this for a fact because—I won’t name them—but there are three or four announcers, ‘Oh, I’m really interested in watching, oops, nope, click, gone.’ I truly believe that. I don’t think that someone is tuning in just to hear a particular person call a football game.

“There are some other things that happened, too. The games that the people who are making this money are calling are really good games. People have said to me, ‘Oh, Al [Michaels] and Cris [Collinsworth] did a great job on Sunday night.’ Yeah, they always do a great job. However, they do the best game of the week.

“All the way back to the days of Pat Summerall and John Madden. Pat and John were terrific. I wanted to pattern myself after Pat Summerall. He didn’t overtalk. He was understated. He was specific about the things that he said. And they were terrific. But how can you not be terrific when you’re doing Giants-Cowboys, Bears-Packers, Rams-49ers, Eagles-Giants?

“Moe, Larry and Curly—no offense to anyone calling games—Moe, Larry and Curly can do a good football game.”

That's pretty honest stuff about broadcasters from a network broadcaster.

I covered many other topics with Gumbel, who is in his 50th year in sports broadcasting. We chatted about what it’s been like to work with Charles Barkley, Bill Walton and Terry Bradshaw, how the NCAA tournament studio show has changed over the 24 years he’s hosted it, what his brother, Bryant, writes down in between segments on Real Sports, his love of the Rolling Stones, his time at WFAN in New York and much more.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify and Stitcher.

You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.

2. In addition to Gumbel, this week’s SI Media Podcast also features an interview with WWE superstar Seth Rollins, who will wrestle an unknown opponent at WrestleMania this weekend. In addition to his ‘Mania story line, Rollins also talked about working with Roman Reigns, his friendship with Jon Moxley, balancing work and fatherhood, his thoughts on AEW wrestlers dropping the names of WWE superstars during promos and much more.

3. Nobody knows the full story between Tom Brady and Bruce Arians, who announced Wednesday night that he was moving into the front office, but the Twitter conspiracy theorists provided great content.

4. We had another sports disaster Wednesday night on Jeopardy! 

5. Alex Rodriguez, who helped the Yankees win the World Series in 2009, was suspended for a full season for using PEDs. If I were Brian Cashman, I’d lay low and keep my mouth shut.

6. The biggest story of the week still has legs. Wednesday night, Chris Rock did a standup show in Boston and made a few, not-so-newsworthy comments about the Oscars incident.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Today marks the 37th anniversary of WrestleMania I, which was nothing but a complete spectacle.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.