Bryant Gumbel has generated backlash from outgoing NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue for accusing him of keeping the players union chief on a “leash” as his “personal pet,” with Tagliabue suggesting the league may rescind its plan to have Gumbel do play-by-play for games on the NFL Network. But in the same commentary at the end of the August edition of HBO's Real Sports
, first aired on August 15, Gumbel also used Vice President Dick Cheney as a foil in castigating the football league's temperament. In his “open letter” to incoming NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Gumbel opined: “Although your league is wildly successful, making it fit Dick Cheney's demeanor can't serve you well in the long run. Yeah, football's a business, but it's also a game. Legislating individuality out of the NFL may have been Paul's thing, but it needn't be yours. Have some fun, let others do the same.” Video
clip (21 seconds): Real
(650 KB) or Windows Media
(775 KB), plus MP3 audio
I was on vacation last week and only got to record and watch the August 15 Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel
when HBO replayed it on Wednesday, August 23.
In February, just before the Winter Olympics, Gumbel used his HBO show to urge his viewers “not to laugh when someone says these are the world's greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention.” (Text and video on NewsBusters
.) Then in June, while encouraging Americans to watch and appreciate World Cup soccer, Gumbel slipped in a personal/political slam: “I know that in soccer they score about as often as Ann Coulter makes sense.” (Video and text on NewsBusters
An August 21 NewsBusters posting
looked at the racial angle of Gumbel's insult of Upshaw, “HBO Commentator: Black Union President Is 'Personal Pet' of NFL Commissioner.”
For more on the NFL's reaction to Gumbel's criticism of Tagliabue, check the August 22 Washington Post story
, “Tagliabue May Face One Final Issue: Gumbel Could Be Ousted for Comments.” Or USA Today
's Tuesday article, “Tagliabue fires back at Gumbel,” which began:
“In one of his last acts as NFL commissioner, Paul Tagliabue might push to fire the NFL Network's highest-profile hire: Bryant Gumbel.
Tagliabue, who is retiring Aug. 31, blasted Gumbel for his recent comments describing NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw as Tagliabue's leashed pet -- and league owners as greedy billionaires.”
Bryant Gumbel's commentary at the end of the August 15 edition of HBO's Real Sports
, which will air several more times this month, an “open letter” to incoming NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:
“Before he cleans out his office, have Paul Tagliabue show you where he keeps Gene Upshaw's leash. By making the docile head of the players union his personal pet, your predecessor kept the peace without giving players the kind of guarantees other pros take for granted. Try to make sure no one competent ever replaces Upshaw on your watch
“Try too to keep a close eye on that ugly owners split that surfaced last March. Gently remind those billionaires who gave you the job that they're already making obscene amounts of money. And despite the please of Governor Terminator, make sure you keep your LA's straight: Putting a team in prosperous Los Angeles isn't nearly as important to your image as keeping one in recovering Louisiana.
“While you're at it: The games could be shorter, they could do with fewer commercials, your replay system's still flawed and please, no more Super Bowls in the Midwest or in domes. I'm sure you'll get to all that in due time, but those are tops on any real fan's list
“Oh and Roger: Although your league is wildly successful, making it fit Dick Cheney's demeanor can't serve you well in the long run. Yeah, football's a business, but it's also a game. Legislating individuality out of the NFL may have been Paul's thing, but it needn't be yours. Have some fun, let others do the same. I really do wish you all the best.”