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The face of NBC’s Olympics is just fine with fading away.

For nearly three decades, Bob Costas had been the face of the Olympics on NBC. Now, he is on the other side of the screen, just casually watching, like any of the tens of millions of Americans in the audience. “I’m interested, but I’m not obsessed,” Costas told The Post. Costas, the most legendary sportscaster...
Time: 21:40     Date: 13.02.2018
Last US Sport News: The face of NBC’s Olympics is just fine with fading away. NY Post 24 - US News

“I’m interested, but I’m not obsessed,” Costas told The Post.

In 1988, on the late-night shift, Costas first hosted the Games before many of the current participants were even born. He became the prime-time host in 1992. He chose to walk away from the Olympics following the Games in 2016. Now, Costas’ NBC Sports career is essentially and quietly over.

“My attitude is I have had a wonderful ride and so many wonderful things to look back on and so many great things have happened and great friendships and collaborations, so when things take another turn in another direction, that’s just the way it goes,” Costas, 65, said.

Costas has moved on and insists he doesn’t feel out of place being at home in California instead of at the Games in Pyeongchang. Indeed, during an hour-long conversation this week, Costas’ greatest concern seemed to be trying to connect with his computer guy so he could fetch his email. While he is not DVRing every Olympic event and is ducking out to see movies like “Darkest Hour,” he does have his TV turned to NBC.

“I’m seeing a good portion of it,” Costas said.

Costas’ title at NBC is “emeritus,” which is often reserved for college professors, allowing them to keep their title in retirement. Costas is still being paid by NBC, though there is not much left for him to do.

Costas declined to specify how much more time he has on his NBC contract, but said it was years. It’s not a bad gig, as he is paid seven-figures (possibly eight) to work the Kentucky Derby, maybe fill in on some events and appear on special shows. It beats minimum wage.

Laurie Hernandez and Costas in 2016NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Costas’ first love remains baseball. He will continue to call 20 or so games on MLB Network and be featured in other specials. He has his eyes set on doing a long-form interview show or series. This summer, he will be inducted into the broadcaster’s wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Overall, he sounded happy, wintering in Newport Coast, Calif., while spending the rest of the year in Manhattan. He emphasized he is not seeking attention, pointing out he just answered a call on his cellphone from a reporter. He was quick to say he had no problem with NBC and said he would be disappointed if any story gave the impression he has an issue with his longtime home.

Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth and CostasGetty Images

While sources told The Post that Costas has felt constrained for a while, frustrated by NBC’s portfolio that failed to match his main interests and the narrowing of his role, Costas pushed back, saying only appreciative things about the current leadership of Comcast/NBC. Mike Tirico, his Olympic replacement, acknowledged Costas at the end of the first night of the network’s coverage, but not during the more prestigious Opening Ceremonies a night later. Costas said he appreciated the nod.

It is a long time from the ’80s and ’90s, when NBC had baseball, the NBA and the NFL to go along with the Olympics, which allowed Costas to show off his nearly unmatched versatility as a play-by-player, host and commentator.

It is the last one, which has placed Costas near trouble. Costas’ DNA, his stature in the field and his persistent desire to be early and on the right side of issues had him pushing against a dam that was bound to break. He recently spoke at the University of Maryland, where he said football “destroys people’s brains.”

“To not acknowledge that and to just be some houseman for the NFL was something I could not do,” Costas told The Post.

Costas before a Giants game in 2012UPI

He was supposed to work the Super Bowl two weeks ago. The plan had been set for Tirico to skip it to be in place as Costas’ replacement in South Korea. In Minneapolis, Costas would host with Dan Patrick. Instead, Liam McHugh, a fine up-and-coming broadcaster, got the nod over Costas, which, if NBC made such a decision without the NFL’s feelings in mind, would be akin to Bill Belichick choosing Brian Hoyer over a healthy Tom Brady.

When pressed on whether he was supposed to handle the Super Bowl, Costas replied, “Yes.” He added, however, “But what I said was it was ‘mutually agreeable,’ which meant I was fine with it. And I was. I am fine with it. And the Olympics was a choice that I made years ago. The Super Bowl was like, ‘If you need me to do it and you have something you want me to do, I’ll do it. If you don’t need me to do it, no problem.’ That was really how I felt about it. They have been nothing but gracious. They have been nothing but appreciative and respectful. And that is the way I feel about them.”

Now, Costas is a viewer instead of a performer. He is watching, with a keen eye, rooting for his old friends, especially behind the scenes.

What he is not doing, he said, is sitting around, thinking about what he would say as he watches Tirico in his old seat.

“I think Mike Tirico is doing a very good job,” Costas said. “He’s a very capable broadcaster.”

He better be, because even though Costas isn’t known for his size, he’s left some legendary shoes to fill.

Sport

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Opinion

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Living

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Business

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Metro

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Sport

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