Bryant Gumbel

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Bryant Gumbel
Bryant Gumbel Peabody 2013 (cropped).jpg
Gumbel in 2013
Bryant Charles Gumbel

(1948-09-29) September 29, 1948 (age 70)
Alma mater Bates College
OccupationTelevision personality, sportscaster
Years active1972–present
Notable credit(s)
The Today Show
The Early Show
June Baranco
(m. 1973;div. 2001)

Hilary Quinlan(m. 2002)
Parent(s)Richard and Rhea Gumbel
Relatives Greg Gumbel (brother)

Bryant Charles Gumbel (born September 29, 1948) is an American television journalist and sportscaster, best known for his 15 years as co-host of NBC's Today . He is the younger brother of sportscaster Greg Gumbel. Since 1995, he has hosted HBO's acclaimed investigative series Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel , which has been rated as "flat out TV's best sports program" by the Los Angeles Times . [1] It won a Peabody Award in 2012. [2]

Americans Citizens, or natives, of the United States of America

Americans are nationals and citizens of the United States of America. Although nationals and citizens make up the majority of Americans, some dual citizens, expatriates, and permanent residents may also claim American nationality. The United States is home to people of many different ethnic origins. As a result, American culture and law does not equate nationality with race or ethnicity, but with citizenship and permanent allegiance.

NBC American television and radio network

The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American English-language commercial terrestrial television network that is a flagship property of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast. The network is headquartered at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, with additional major offices near Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. The network is one of the Big Three television networks. NBC is sometimes referred to as the "Peacock Network", in reference to its stylized peacock logo, introduced in 1956 to promote the company's innovations in early color broadcasting. It became the network's official emblem in 1979.

Greg Gumbel American sportscaster

Greg Gumbel is an American television sportscaster. He is best known for his various assignments for CBS Sports. The older brother of news and sportscaster Bryant Gumbel, he became the first African-American announcer to call play-by-play of a major sports championship in the United States when he announced Super Bowl XXXV for the CBS network in 2001. He is of Creole ancestry. Gumbel is currently a play-by-play broadcaster for the NFL on CBS alongside Trent Green as well as the studio host for CBS' men's college basketball coverage.


Gumbel was hired by NBC Sports in the fall of 1975 as co-host of its National Football League pre-game show GrandStand with Jack Buck. From 1975 until January 1982 (when he left to do The Today Show), he hosted numerous sporting events for NBC including Major League Baseball, college basketball and the National Football League. He returned to sportscasting for NBC when he hosted the prime time coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics from Seoul and the PGA Tour in 1990.

NBC Sports sports division of the NBC television network

NBC Sports is the programming division of the American broadcast network NBC, owned by the NBCUniversal Television Group division of NBCUniversal, that is responsible for sports broadcasts on the network, and its dedicated national sports cable channels. Formerly operating as "a service of NBC News", it broadcasts a diverse array of sports events, including the Olympic Games, the NFL, NASCAR, the NHL, Notre Dame football, the PGA Tour, the IndyCar Series, the French Open, the Premier League, and the Triple Crown, among others. Other programming from outside producers – such as coverage of the Ironman Triathlon – is also presented on the network through NBC Sports. With Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal, its own cable sports networks were aligned with NBC Sports into a part of the division known as the NBC Sports Group.

National Football League Professional American football league

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, and the highest professional level of American football in the world. The NFL's 17-week regular season runs from early September to late December, with each team playing 16 games and having one bye week. Following the conclusion of the regular season, six teams from each conference advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, which is usually held in the first Sunday in February, and is played between the champions of the NFC and AFC.

Jack Buck American sportscaster

John Francis "Jack" Buck was an American sportscaster, best known for his work announcing Major League Baseball games of the St. Louis Cardinals. His play-by-play work earned him recognition from numerous Halls of Fame, such as the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the National Radio Hall of Fame. He has also been inducted as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum.

NBC News made Gumbel the principal anchor of Today beginning September 27, 1982, and broadcast from Vietnam, Vatican City, Europe, South America, and much of the United States followed between 1984 and 1989. Gumbel's work on Today earned him several Emmys and a large fanbase. He is the third longest serving co-host of Today, after former hosts Matt Lauer and Katie Couric. He stepped down from the show on January 3, 1997, after 15 years.

Vietnam Country in Southeast Asia

Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula. With an estimated 94.6 million inhabitants as of 2016, it is the 15th most populous country in the world. Vietnam shares its land borders with China to the north, and Laos and Cambodia to the west. It shares its maritime borders with Thailand through the Gulf of Thailand, and the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia through the South China Sea. Its capital city is Hanoi, while its most populous city is Ho Chi Minh City.

Vatican City Independent city-state within Rome, Italy

Vatican City, officially Vatican City State, is an independent city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. Established with the Lateran Treaty (1929), it is distinct from yet under "full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction" of the Holy See. With an area of 44 hectares, and a population of about 1,000, it is the smallest sovereign state in the world by both area and population.

Europe Continent in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere

Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Asia to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.

Gumbel moved to CBS, where he hosted various shows before becoming co-host of the network's morning show The Early Show on November 1, 1999. Gumbel was hosting The Early Show on the morning of September 11, 2001. He was the first to announce the September 11 attacks to CBS viewers. Gumbel left CBS and The Early Show on May 17, 2002.

CBS is an American English language commercial broadcast television and radio network that is a flagship property of CBS Corporation. The company is headquartered at the CBS Building in New York City with major production facilities and operations in New York City and Los Angeles.

<i>The Early Show</i> television series

The Early Show is an American morning television program that aired on CBS from November 1, 1999 to January 7, 2012, and the ninth attempt at a morning news-talk program by the network since 1954. The program aired Monday through Friday from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m., although a number of affiliates either pre-empted or tape-delayed the Saturday edition. The program originally broadcast from the General Motors Building in New York City.

September 11 attacks Attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001

The September 11 attacks were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks killed 2,996 people, injured over 6,000 others, and caused at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. Additional people died of 9/11-related cancer and respiratory diseases in the months and years following the attacks.

Life and career

Early life

Gumbel was born in New Orleans. He is the son of Rhea Alice (née LeCesne), a city clerk, and Richard Dunbar Gumbel, a judge. [3] His parents were both of Louisiana Creole descent (of largely African and French ancestry). His surname originates with his great-great-grandfather, who was a German-Jewish emigrant from the village of Albisheim. [4] He attended and graduated from De La Salle Institute in Chicago, while growing up on the South Side of the city. He graduated from Bates College in 1970 with a degree in Russian history. In 1971, he became editor of Black Sports Magazine , leaving the following year. [5] [6] [7] He began his television career in October 1972, when he was made a sportscaster for KNBC-TV out of Los Angeles.

New Orleans Largest city in Louisiana

New Orleans is a consolidated city-parish located along the Mississippi River in the southeastern region of the U.S. state of Louisiana. With an estimated population of 391,006 in 2018, it is the most populous city in Louisiana. A major port, New Orleans is considered an economic and commercial hub for the broader Gulf Coast region of the United States.

Louisiana Creole french-based creole spoken in Louisiana

Louisiana Creole, also called Louisiana French Creole, is a French-based creole language spoken by far fewer than 10,000 people, mostly in the state of Louisiana. Due to the rapidly shrinking number of speakers, Louisiana Creole is considered an endangered language.

Albisheim Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Albisheim is a municipality in the Donnersbergkreis, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is in the middle of the Zellertal.

Professional career


NBC Sports

Gumbel was hired by NBC Sports in the fall of 1975 as co-host of its National Football League pre-game show GrandStand with Jack Buck. From 1975 until January 1982 (when he left to do The Today Show), he hosted numerous sporting events for NBC including Major League Baseball, college basketball and the National Football League. He returned to sportscasting for NBC when he hosted the prime time coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics from Seoul and the PGA Tour in 1990.

Major League Baseball on NBC is the de facto branding for weekly broadcasts of Major League Baseball (MLB) games produced by NBC Sports, and televised on the NBC television network. Major League Baseball games first aired on the network from 1947 to 1989, when CBS acquired the broadcast television rights; games returned to the network in 1994 with coverage lasting until 2000. There have been several variations of the program dating back to the 1940s, including The NBC Game of the Week and Baseball Night in America.

College Basketball on NBC is the branding used for broadcasts of NCAA Division I men's college basketball games formerly produced by NBC Sports, the sports division of the NBC television network in the United States. The network broadcast college basketball games in some shape or form between 1969 and 1998. From 1969 to 1981, NBC covered the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. It became the first major network to broadcast the championship game, at a cost of more than US$500,000 in 1969.

<i>NFL on NBC</i> television series

The NFL on NBC is the branding used for broadcasts of National Football League (NFL) games that are produced by NBC Sports, and televised on the NBC television network in the United States.

One of Gumbel's more memorable moments during his time at NBC Sports occurred when he was on-site for the "Epic in Miami" NFL playoff game between the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins. At the end of the game, he told the viewers, "If you didn't like this football game then you don't like football!" This would be one of his final assignments for NBC Sports, as he began co-hosting Today two days later.


Gumbel began his affiliation with Today as the program's chief sports reporter contributing twice-weekly features to the program, including a regular series entitled "Sportsman of the Week," featuring up-and-coming athletes. In June 1981, NBC announced that Tom Brokaw would depart Today to anchor the NBC Nightly News with Roger Mudd beginning in the spring of 1982. The search for Brokaw's replacement was on, and the initial candidates were all NBC News correspondents, including John Palmer, Chris Wallace, Bob Kur, Bob Jamieson, and Jessica Savitch. The candidates auditioned for Brokaw's job throughout the summer of 1981 when he was on vacation. Gumbel became a candidate for the job just by chance when he served as a last-minute substitute for Today co-anchor Jane Pauley in August 1981. He so impressed executive producer Steve Friedman and other NBC executives that he quickly became a top contender for the Today anchor position.

While Friedman and other NBC executives favored Gumbel as Brokaw's replacement, another contingent within the NBC News division felt strongly that he should be replaced by a fellow news correspondent, not a sports reporter. Wallace was the favored candidate of then-NBC News president Bill Small. NBC News decided to split the difference, selecting Gumbel as the program's anchor and Wallace as the Washington-based anchor. Pauley would remain co-anchor in New York. Brokaw signed off of Today on December 18, 1981, and Gumbel replaced him on January 4, 1982.

The Gumbel-Pauley-Wallace arrangement, known internally as the "Mod Squad", lasted only nine months. It was an arrangement that proved intriguing on paper but unwieldy on television. Gumbel served as the show's traffic cop, opening and closing the program and conducting New York-based interviews, but Pauley and Wallace handled newsreading duties, and Wallace conducted all Washington-based hard news interviews. With ABC's Good Morning America in first place and expanding its lead, NBC News made Gumbel the principal anchor of Today beginning September 27, 1982, with Pauley as his co-anchor. Wallace became the chief White House correspondent covering President Ronald Reagan, and John Palmer, previously a White House correspondent, became Today's New York-based news anchor.

Gumbel and Pauley had a challenging first two years together as Today anchors as they sought to find a rhythm as a team. Good Morning America solidified its lead over Today in the ratings during the summer of 1983, and Pauley's departure for maternity leave sent Today into a ratings tailspin. But when she returned in February 1984, they began to work well together as a team. NBC took Today on the road in the fall of '84, sending Gumbel to the Soviet Union for an unprecedented series of live broadcasts from Moscow. He won plaudits for his performance, erasing any doubts about his hard-news capabilities. That trip began a whirlwind period of travel for Today. Remote broadcasts from Vietnam, Vatican City, Europe, South America, and much of the United States followed between 1984 and 1989. Today began to regain its old ratings dominance against Good Morning America throughout 1985, and by early 1986, the NBC program was once again atop the ratings.

In 1989, Gumbel, who was already known for his strong management style as Today anchor, wrote a memo to the executive producer Marty Ryan, on Ryan's request, critiquing the program and identifying its shortcomings. Many of his criticisms were directed at fellow Today staffers. It was leaked to the press. In the memo, Gumbel commented that Willard Scott "holds the show hostage to his assortment of whims, wishes, birthdays and bad taste...this guy is killing us and no one's even trying to rein him in". He commented that Gene Shalit's movie reviews "are often late and his interviews aren't very good." [8]

There was enough negative backlash in regard to Gumbel's comments toward Scott that he was shown making up with Scott on Today. [9]

Following Pauley's departure from Today in December 1989, Gumbel was joined by Deborah Norville in a short-lived partnership that lasted just over a year. Today dropped to second place in the ratings during this period as a result of intensely negative publicity surrounding Norville's replacement of Pauley, and Gumbel's feud with Scott. Norville was replaced by Katie Couric in April 1991, and the Gumbel-Couric team helped refocus Today as the morning news program on public affairs during the 1992 presidential campaign. The program returned to first place in the ratings in December 1995.

Gumbel's work on Today earned him several Emmys and a large group of fans. He is the third longest serving co-host of Today, after Matt Lauer and Couric. He stepped down from the show on January 3, 1997, after 15 years.

Since his departure, Gumbel has made occasional appearances on Today. He appeared for the show's 60th anniversary and hosted with Lauer and Pauley on December 30, 2013. [10]


Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel

After 15 years on Today, Gumbel moved to CBS to host a new prime time news-magazine called Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel during the 1997–1998 television season. The episode "The Reckoning" won a Peabody Award in 1998. [11] It lasted just one season before being cancelled. It aired on Wednesday nights at 9pm ET before moving to Tuesdays at 9pm ET. [12] [13]

The Early Show

After leaving the Today and Dateline NBC in 1997, Gumbel moved to CBS, where he hosted various shows before becoming co-host of the network's morning show The Early Show on November 1, 1999. Gumbel left The Early Show (and CBS that same year) on May 17, 2002. Gumbel was hosting The Early Show on the morning of September 11, 2001. He was the first to announce the September 11 attacks to CBS viewers.

In the spring and summer of 2010, he served as a special guest moderator of ABC's The View for multiple days.

Boy Scouts Incident

A CBS camera caught a disgusted Gumbel blurting out "What a f-ing idiot" just after he had finished a hostile interview with Robert Knight of the Family Research Council (FRC). The incident occurred at about 7:15 a.m. ET on Thursday, June 29, 2000 following Knight's appearance to defend the Boy Scout policy of excluding gays from being leaders. The Media Research Center reported that he uttered those words; Gumbel openly admitted to saying so when guest-hosting a June 2007 episode of Live with Regis and Kelly . [14]

Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel

Gumbel has concentrated most of his energy recently on his duties as host of HBO's acclaimed investigative series Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel (a show that he has hosted since 1995). HBO's web page claims that Real Sports has been described as "flat out TV's best sports program" by the Los Angeles Times . [1] It won a Peabody Award in 2012. [2]

Notable remarks

In February 2006, Gumbel made remarks that some viewed as "reverse racism" regarding the Winter Olympics and the lack of African-American participation, and others considered important sports journalism commentary. [15]

So try 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.

On the August 15, 2006 episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Gumbel made the following remarks about former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Players' Union president Gene Upshaw and directed these comments to new commissioner Roger Goodell:

Before he cleans out his office have Paul Tagliabue show you where he keeps Upshaw's leash. By making the docile head of the players union his personal pet, your predecessor has 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.

In response, Tagliabue said:

What Gumbel said about Gene Upshaw and our owners is about as irresponsible as anything I've heard in a long time. [16]

On the October 18, 2011 episode, Gumbel evoked slavery in his criticism of NBA Commissioner David Stern over the league's lockout. [17]

His efforts are typical of a commissioner who has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern-day plantation overseer, treating (National Basketball Association) men as if they were his boys. ... His moves are intended to do little more than show how he's the one keeping the hired hands in their place.

In a Rolling Stone article dated January 20, 2015, Gumbel said: "There are a few things I hate more than the (National Rifle Association). I mean truly. I think they're pigs. I think they don't care about human life. I think they are a curse upon the American landscape. So we got that on the record." [18]

The Weather Man

Gumbel made a cameo appearance alongside Nicolas Cage and Michael Caine in The Weather Man , a film directed by Gore Verbinski. In it, he cohosts a morning show entitled Hello America, for which Cage's character, a depressed weatherman, auditions.


Gumbel made a cameo appearance on the NBC sitcom Seinfeld during which he interviewed Jerry Seinfeld on Today while Jerry was wearing the puffy pirate shirt in the episode "The Puffy Shirt".

NFL Network

In April 2006, NFL Network announced that Gumbel, along with Cris Collinsworth and Dick Vermeil, would comment on its new package of NFL games. Unlike his brother Greg, he had never called play-by-play for live sporting events in his career. [19] [20] Before his first game commentary for the network, his status was brought into question after he stirred up controversy in his closing remarks on his HBO program on August 15, 2006, in which he criticized NFL Players Association head Gene Upshaw and outgoing NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. He would later reconcile with the NFL and retained his play-by-play job with the NFL Network. [21] On December 29, 2007, he had a reunion of sorts as he called the Patriots-Giants game on the NFL Network, CBS, and NBC. This is the first 3-network simulcast NFL game and coincidentally he has worked for all three networks during his career. He also had a strong affiliation with NFL films.

Gumbel's performance was the subject of criticism over his entire run because of his voice and a perceived lack of knowledge about the game. [22] Gumbel stepped down as play-by-play announcer in April 2008, prior to the 2008 NFL season. He would be replaced on the NFL Network telecasts by Bob Papa.

Personal life

Gumbel raised two children with his wife, June, in semi-rural Waccabuc, north of New York City. In 2001, he divorced her to marry Hilary Quinlan. [23] In October 2009, he had surgery to remove a malignant tumor near one of his lungs.


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  4. Stated on Finding Your Roots , November 7, 2017
  5. "Gumbel, Bryant (1948– ) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed". The Black Past. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  6. "Overview for Bryant Gumbel". Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  7. Fitzhenry, Joseph (December 5, 2012). "Bryant Gumbel speaks his mind to students and faculty". Archived from the original on July 28, 2014. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  8. Monica Collins, "Memo to NBC: We Love Scott", USA Today , March 1, 1989.
  9. Brian Donlon, "On Today, it's kiss and make up", ''USA Today, March 14, 1989.
  10. Patrick Kevin Day, "Bryant Gumbel, Jane Pauley return to Today", Los Angeles Times , December 30, 2013.
  11. 58th Annual Peabody Awards, May 1999.
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  13. Richard Huff, "With 'eye' toward ratings, CBS replaces Gumbel exec", New York Daily News, February 6, 1998.
  14. Baker, Brent (June 30, 2000). ""F***ing Idiot" Outburst by Gumbel; Donaldson Also Dissed a Conservative". CyberAlert. Media Research Center. Archived from the original on April 28, 2002. Retrieved November 16, 2008. "CBS News Anchor Bryant Gumbel Says He Was Right to Call Pro-Family Advocate a F***ing Idiot". June 6, 2007. Retrieved November 16, 2008.
  15. Gene Wojciechowski, "On Olympics and color, Gumbel should know better", ESPN, February 23, 2006.
  16. Michael McCarthy, "Gumbel's remarks strike ill chord with Tagliabue", USA Today, 22 August 2006.
  17. "AJC Homepage".
  18. Jason Guerrasio, "'Real' Talk: Bryant Gumbel on the NFL, the NCAA and the NRA", Rolling Stone , January 20, 2015.
  19. "Gumbel's move to play-by-play was a bad call"
  20. Sports Media Watch presents the ten worst personnel moves of the 2000s. #6: Bryant Gumbel calls NFL games (2006–08, NFL Network) [ permanent dead link ]
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Preceded by
Tom Brokaw
Today Show Host
January 4, 1982 – January 3, 1997
with Jane Pauley from 1982 to 1989
Deborah Norville from 1990 to 1991
and Katie Couric from 1991 to 1997
Succeeded by
Matt Lauer
Preceded by
Jim McKay
American television prime time anchor, Summer Olympic Games
1980 (with Dick Enberg)
Succeeded by
Bob Costas
Preceded by
First play-by-play commentator
NFL Network play-by-play commentator
Succeeded by
Bob Papa