NBC’s broadcast of Super Bowl LII won’t have a familiar face on the pregame show next month — Bob Costas.
According to Sports Business Daily, Costas cited “his own dampening enthusiasm” for football for his absence.
“The decision was mutually agreeable, and not only do I not have a problem with it, I am actually happy about it,” he told Sports Business Daily via email. “I have long had ambivalent feelings about football, so at this point, it’s better to leave the hosting to those who are more enthusiastic about it.”
The news is a surprise, as NBC said last year that Costas would be a part of the Super Bowl on “a pared down on-air schedule,” per SBD.
“I have been making the same points for several years, often on NBC. In halftime commentaries, interviews with Roger Goodell and other prominent NFL figures, appearances on CNN and elsewhere, 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. It’s the elephant in the stadium at every game whether others choose to acknowledge it or not. And it’s not going away. So the idea that I am only now finding my voice on this, or that NBC was taken aback by what I said at Maryland is just wrong. It’s all simple and straightforward.”
More and more research has come out over the years on the effects that football has on the brain.
In July, CTE — which is caused by an abnormal buildup of tau proteins in the brain — was found in 99 percent of former NFL players’ brains that were donated in a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study took 202 brains from men who played football at the high school, college, or professional level. CTE was found in 177 of them.
For the NFL players, 110 of 111 brains showed signs of CTE.
“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 this study, said via 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 examined the brains of 165 former players, and 96 percent of the former NFL players’ brains showed signs of CTE.
The battle against brain trauma is an ongoing one for the NFL, and it’s one that Costas doesn’t want to stick around for.