Bob Costas is in talks to leave NBC. Only the peacock has served NBC Sports longer.
Costas, his representatives and NBC have held discussions that could result in the longtime face of NBC Sports being let out of a contract that currently runs through 2021, a person with knowledge of the conversations told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.
NBC declined to comment on Costas’ potential departure. Costas declined to comment on the specifics but offered some general comments in a pair of brief phone calls with USA TODAY Sports.
“There was a very long period of time when NBC’s programming suited my interests and abilities very well, from (late-night talk show) Later, to the news magazines, to baseball, the NBA and the Olympics,” Costas said. “And after deciding on my own to leave the Olympics after having done a dozen of them, you just look around and say, ‘What was once a perfect fit no longer fits that description.’ ”
Costas, 66, has worked at NBC since 1979 in starring roles as lead announcer on the Olympics, World Series and Super Bowls. More recently, he took on a sort of emeritus role at NBC Sports — of the sort that Tom Brokaw fills for NBC News — where he is on air mainly for major news events, such as the death of Muhammad Ali.
“It would be as if NBC suddenly lost the rights to hockey,” Costas said. “They wouldn’t think any less of Mike Emrick, and he wouldn’t think any less of them, but he’d have to go find a place to do what he does best.”
By that, Costas doesn’t mean baseball. He already broadcasts games for the MLB Network. The New York Post, which first reported the talks between Costas and NBC, reported that Costas wants to pursue a journalism show that includes news-making interviews and commentaries, some of which might extend beyond sports. That’s the sort of show that might appeal to pay networks such as HBO and Showtime, or streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon.
Costas declined comment on those possibilities, but he is known for outspoken commentary. He spoke at the University of Maryland in 2017 and said of football: “The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains.” The NFL is a business partner with NBC on Sunday Night Football, which has been the top-rated program in prime time for the last seven seasons.
Costas was at home Tuesday fighting a head cold. He cited “a great deal of mutual appreciation for everything that I was a part of at NBC for nearly 40 years.”