One man’s vote against Brent Musburger’s entry into the Pro Football HOF; A checkered past?



There’s been some noise lately for the NFL to name Brent Musburger its next winner of the Pete Rozelle Broadcasting award. Jim Nantz pushed for it during his Super Bowl broadcast and Dan Patrick did the same on his national radio talk show. But here is one very strong vote against.

The NFL has been adding folks to their broadcasting wing of the Hall of Fame for 35 years. Most of those getting the award were great play-by-play broadcasters,  analysts or executives in the field. Other than Musbuger’s recent radio play-by-play for the Raiders, his only play-by-play has been college football for ESPN, and he hasn’t exactly received plaudits for it. There was that mess when he went way overboard drooling over Miss Alabama in the stands causing tweets accusing him of being a “dirty old man.” This caused ESPN’s head of production, John Wildhack, to sit Brent down and straighten him out.

No, Musburger’s strength has always been in the studio, anchoring The NFL Today. For 15 years he did that from 1975 to 1990 and no one could have done it better. And for that reason he was voted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame a few years back. Oddly, he was the only one of the ten selected that year who didn’t make his acceptance speech in New York at the awards ceremony. Instead, Brent sent in a taped video, in which he spent half of the time complaining about writers who criticized him for that Miss Alabama mess. “All I did,” said Musburger, “was call a beauty queen beautiful,” neglecting to add that he encouraged dads in the audience to groom their sons to be quarterbacks so they too could get a girl like that.

But his comments about Jimmy The Greek on CBS’ recent “You Are Looking Live!” documentary are enough to disqualify him from consideration in my book. It was bad enough that when discussing his famous fight with Greek at Peartrees restaurant in October of 1980, he left out the reason The Greek was so pissed off: that earlier that day The Greek had the biggest news scoop he ever had, that Notre Dame was about to hire Jerry Faust a – high school coach in Ohio. They rehearsed it and when they went live, Brent completely stole The Greek’s scoop during his introduction, leaving The Greek tongue tied.

You Are Looking Live!: How The NFL Today Revolutionized Sports BroadcastingIn my book, “You Are Looking Live!” which the docu was inspired by, three different observers at the scene described what happened. When Brent retold it on the documentary he rewrote history by dramatizing the event claiming The Greek came at him with a broken beer bottle, which according to Ted Shaker and others there was absolutely not true. Then when discussing The Greek’s dismissal from CBS Brent intimated that Jimmy was drinking heavily that day, which was absolutely false. It was a rare occasion when he would even take a sip of wine.

There was no reason for Brent to try and destroy The Greek even more. It was uncalled for and shameful of documentary producers not to have either of the Greek’s children there to defend him. Former NFL Today executive producer Ted Shaker, who worked 14 years on the show, was one of those who separated Brent and The Greek in the fight. They could have easily had Ted on the docu to explain what happened, but for some reason they refused to interview him.

There was also the question of why those producers didn’t use former director Bob Fishman’s criticism of Brent for embarrassing Jayne Kennedy by asking her to read the scores. Fishman was shocked that they didn’t seem interested in that information.

Yes Brent was a great studio host.–probably the best to ever sit in that chair. But like the Baseball Hall of Fame, character has to stand for something.

Rich Podolsky

Rich Podolsky, an established writer and reporter since the 70s, has been a staff writer for CBS and has written for ESPN, the Philadelphia Daily News, the Palm Beach Post, the Wilmington News Journal, College & Pro Football Newsweekly and TV Guide. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers' Keystone Award for writing excellence. A fan of music from the 60s and 70s, he is the author of "Don Kirshner: The Man with the Golden Ear," which relates how Kirshner discovered Bobby Darin, Carole King and Neil Sedaka among others, and "Neil Sedaka, Rock ‘n’ Roll Survivor,” which tells the inside story of Sedaka’s comeback. His new book, “You Are Looking Live!” is about CBS’ revolutionary pregame show in 1975 which introduced Brent, Phyllis, Irv and The Greek to America.

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4 months ago

Character you say? Ty Cobb is in the baseball HOF and if you know his history it makes Brent look like a choir boy. Never thought there should have been an over blown story regard to Brent’s Miss Alabama comments. Only those looking for something felt so. By the way, remember Joe Namath? You don’t think there were kids that wanted to be like him and their dad’s having any issue? No, and Joe was quite the ladies man. Like the NFL Films key people, the Sabol’s and John Facenda they are in the NFL HOF for their great contributions… Read more »

Michael Green
4 months ago
Reply to  ChasG

And I’ve read worse.

But it struck me that Howard Cosell isn’t in there either. Has there been a bigger personality to broadcast the NFL, except perhaps for John Madden? Could it be that neither Howard nor Brent endeared themselves to some people?

I still say the crime is that Bill King, who did the Raiders brilliantly for more than 25 years, isn’t in there. He didn’t get anybody mad–it’s just that since he didn’t go with a network or work in an eastern market, they didn’t notice him. Shame on them.