ESPN needs to have a Greg Gumbel day on First Take, because it appears that this man has been simmering with hot takes for years. He recently appeared on Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina’s SI Media Podcast and let it fly about how he feels about the recent contracts that NFL broadcasters have received.
“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.” Gumbel said to Traina. “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.”
Gumbel goes on to say that for all of the praise that Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth get for the job that they did with Sunday Night Football, they have an advantage because, “they do the best game of the week.” He even went on to say that “Moe, Larry, and Curly can do a good football game.” If you’re not hearing Gumbel’s voice in your head while reading these quotes, you’re doing this all wrong.
However, the spiciest nugget from this podcast is when he expanded on his beliefs that the only power a broadcaster holds over a sporting event is to make people not want to watch it.
“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.’” Gumbel said to Traina. “I truly believe that. I don’t think that someone is tuning in just to hear a particular person call a football game.
Shots freaking fired.
With Gumbel in the host chair or doing play-by-play for most of the last 50 years, we didn’t get to hear many of his opinions. It must have been bubbling inside of him like a tea kettle, because they came bursting out when talking to Traina. I mean, there are colleagues of his that can cause him to turn off a game? That’s a lot of tea already, but now I want to know who he feels that way about. If I ever meet Gumbel in person, the first thought that pops into my head will be, “I wonder who he was talking about when he said that certain broadcasters will make him actually not watch a game.”
If these are the hot takes he has about his industry, he’s has to have more about the actual. What does he think about LeBron James? Is Aaron Rodgers’ career a disappointment with only one Super Bowl appearance? Are boxing and baseball dead?
First Take is Stephen A. Smith against the world these days, so why not give Gumbel a shot. Of course “Greg Gumbel Day” is not going to be the splashy matchup that they’re looking for, but they should give it a try during the summer time. His quotes from Traina’s podcast have already gone viral. Imagine if there’s a clip of him on First Take with a wild take like, “Steph Curry is the most overrated player in the history of the NBA.” People will set their DVR’s like clockwork to see that this neutral, decorated broadcaster has had a fifth gear inside of him all along.
It’s time to take action. Let’s get some petitions going, tweet at the network, bombard ESPN with emails. This is a cause that needs championing. Get Gumbel on the air, we need his takes delivered in the exact same tone that he uses at the Men’s NCAA Tournament desk.
Just make sure his first appearance is during the summer, in case the only piping hot opinions he has are about sports broadcasters.