August 21, 2006

Bryant Gumbel in Trouble With NFL Network?: Gumbel's play-by-play gig may be in jeopardy.

posted by BlueCarp to football at 01:32 PM - 47 comments

In my opinion Bryant Gumbel is an arrogant blow hard and has a history of having trouble working with people because of his demeanor. This is an example of him employing cheap cynicism in an attempt at humor, I guess. His is an uninformed, dumb remark. I'd rather see Mike Patrick do the NFL Channel Games anyway.

posted by Termite at 01:55 PM on August 21, 2006

I am not even sure why Gumbel would want to do the NFL Network. They are pretty open that they are not just doing NFL news. They were started by the owners. They don't do gambling spreads. It is not your run-of-the-mill network. There is no room for disagreement. But Gumbel is right -- the NFL players have a much worse CBA than the NBA and MLB.

posted by bperk at 02:02 PM on August 21, 2006

I'm no Gumbel fan, but I see this remark as being refreshing and all too accurate. NFL contracts are structured in such a way to allow useless agents to crow, but are in reality basically Monopoly money deals, as anything after the second or third season is extremely unlikely to be attained by the player who signs the contract. Bryant called a spade a spade, and the No Fun League is likely to have his ass for dinner as a result.

posted by Scottymac at 02:03 PM on August 21, 2006

You're right Scottymac, the NFL will make sure Gumbel is tossed out on his ass big time. The problem is, he was right in what he said. He just shouldn't have said it in the way he did. Interviews for the vacant position will begin immediately.

posted by dbt302 at 02:10 PM on August 21, 2006

Although I must say I am not now nor have I ever been a fan of Bryant Gumbel. However he does have the right to his opinion, and the closing comments of his show are set up as a spot for him to voice his opinion. He did nothing wrong here and should not be penalized.

posted by T.C. at 02:12 PM on August 21, 2006

When the NFL Network signed Bryant Gumbel, they knew what they were getting. It's not like this has come out of nowhere; he's been like this for decades. Him speaking his mind and pissing people off is why you hire someone like Gumbel. That's why he's been so happy (and, arguably, effective) on HBO; they bought his act, attitude, occasionally half-cocked rants, bombast, and gravitas, lock, stock and barrel. He can lord over his crew of aging cranks (Deford & Goldberg especially are way past their sell-by date) and that's fine. It doesn't take an episode like this to know that Gumbel won't last at the NFL Network. In fact, I'd bet he said this specifically to test the league. That kind of stunt is not beyond him.

posted by chicobangs at 02:15 PM on August 21, 2006

I've never been a Bryant Gumbel fan, and what he said may have been crude, sensationalist, and perhaps dead ass wrong. But I'm sick of political correctness in sports and would like to see an avenue where people could express what they think without fear of their ticket being pulled. If his information was biased and wrong, then someone should illustrate his mistake with data to the contrary. Might be pretty hard to do though because comparing one professional sport against another leads to all kinds of blind alleys.

posted by sageman at 02:17 PM on August 21, 2006

It's refreshing to hear someone tell the truth, but the truth is so infrequently allowed in our society today that doing so results in the messenger being shot by the powers that be. Anyone who thinks the NFL players association has a good deal is crazy. The NFL has by far the greatest income, that income is divided equally amoung the large & small market teams, and yet the players have no guaranteed contracts and play for literally pennies on the dollar compared to the NBA and that most incompetently run, Major League Baseball. Gene Upshaw appears to be a patsy for the owners, but an observant, straight-forward Bryant Gumbel is not allowed to say it out loud.

posted by jaygolf at 02:45 PM on August 21, 2006

I also am not a Bryant Gumbel fan because he can be pompous and irritating. He also can be very perceptive.If he says Upshaw is an owners patsy I tend to believe him because Gumble is also one of the few intelligent pundits on the idiot box.

posted by sickleguy at 02:48 PM on August 21, 2006

Like many above, not a fan, but at the same time, got to hand it to a guy that will stick his neck out and "tell it like it is", throughtout the years of NFL "CONFLICTS" with the players, when has Gene been out front of the players. Seens to me Gene has always looked like a big bad bear, but in reality is just a little pussycat.

posted by rockyxgone at 03:09 PM on August 21, 2006

Just add Gumbel's name to the list of guys that no matter how irritating they may be, catch shit for telling it like it is. Terrell Owens got fired for telling the truth, Gumbel is doing the same thing. The NFL keeps a tight reign on things and Gumbels journalistic backround doesn't fit in with the rest of the leagues' yes men mentality. With that said, I think the NFL is the most successful and most competitive of the major sports leagues. What ever the league is doing to keep parady among the teams, the excitement level high, maintian profitability, and not let free agency totally destroy the game for the fans, is working. Hard to argue with that. Wah Wah Wah, I am sick of players controlling sports leagues. Hats off to the NFL for doing what it takes to keep things in check.

posted by Atheist at 03:09 PM on August 21, 2006

Atheist, your comments seem to contradict themselves, but get to the heart of the matter ... Terrell Owens got fired for telling the truth, Gumbel is doing the same thing. vs What ever the league is doing ..., is working. The only way Gumbel's tirade is remotely justified is if there is significant truth to it. But, your comments point to the fact that there's not much wrong with how the league is being run. The problem here is that Gumbel seems to have just inserted personal opinion - that is not constructive in any sense and is only inflammatory and disrespectful. People are going to disagree as to his level of accuracy, but let's not forget that the NFL hired him. This isn't some random journalist and the NFL is pulling its sponsorship from his newspaper just because they're offended. If I publicly speak out against and defame my insurance company employer (assuming I had the notoreity of garnering any kind of audience), using only baseless opinion as my logic, you can be sure that my ass would be on the line. I am tired of too much PC these days, but it's hard to fault the NFL here.

posted by littleLebowski at 03:25 PM on August 21, 2006

I guess I'll be the odd man out and say that I AM a fan of Gumbel's. I am a fan of anyone that will tell the truth with out being afraid of the consequences. More power to him.

posted by Bishop at 03:27 PM on August 21, 2006

Yeah, well, the worst part about Gumbel is that he's occasionally right. If you hate players' unions in sports (and many do, right, Atheist?), then the NFL is totally your league. No other sporting organization on the planet is as owner-dominated as the NFL. Why do you think the NFL Network is what it is? It's straight propaganda for a league owned and operated by humorless old-school authoritarians who have no interest in allowing anything into their sport that might disturb the way things are. Of course the owners want the status quo kept. It's making them billions. Hence the propaganda arm of the NFL (NFL Films, the NFL Network). If the league were an actual nation, it would be the most successful example of a working fascist state since the the fall of Constantinople.

posted by chicobangs at 03:35 PM on August 21, 2006

It's funny, I never expect to criticize my boss and get away with it. Kudos to Gumbel for saying what he feels, but he had to know that there would be repercussions to saying that Tags had Upshaw on "a leash". Frankly, were Gumbel not Black, I think people would be straining their eyes looking for the Racism in that statement... And he'd not only be losing his NFL gig, but he'd be getting the "Mel Gibson" pulled on him where people would be asking why HBO continues to employ a known racist, etc...

posted by LostInDaJungle at 04:33 PM on August 21, 2006

Gumbel said when he was hired that no restrictions had been put on his ability to comment on what he sees on the field. I do not believe that rude and derogatory remarks about the team owners, the head of the players union, and the commisioner can in any way be construed as being "on the field". This is just "dumbel's" way of trying to assert his alpha male status on the new job. He's still trying to recover from Katie Couric making him her lapdog.

posted by irunfromclones at 04:34 PM on August 21, 2006

I'll also cop to being a fan of Bryant Gumbel, at least on Real Sports and it's funny anyone would even debate the idea the NFLPA is useless. How that statement violates "political correcteness" as suggested above, is beyond me.

posted by yerfatma at 04:43 PM on August 21, 2006

Gum Ball is one of those media figures that just won't go away. Who's doing the color commentary on the games, Geraldo?

posted by dyams at 05:21 PM on August 21, 2006

Bryant Gumbel saying someone is on a leash,that's funny.for a man who gets little respect in the black community to criticize a brother with juice is irony in its greatest form.oh well,as long as he is not a racist like the addict formerly known as rush limbaugh,I guess he can say whatever.this is supposed to be a free country right?

posted by mars1 at 06:46 PM on August 21, 2006

Give me a break, mars. That's the kind of bullshit that we really don't need here. Gumbel is well-respected in the black community and does a lot for the community as well, especially in the way of scholarships to UNCF.

posted by bperk at 07:49 PM on August 21, 2006

...and yet the players have no guaranteed contracts and play for literally pennies on the dollar compared to the NBA and that most incompetently run, Major League Baseball. jaygolf, please take this as just another opinion and not an attack, but I must disagree with you about NFL players being poorly paid in relation to NBA and MLB players. Including training camp, the football season runs from late July to early January, with the playoffs lasting only until early February. That's about a 6-month season. Baseball goes from the end of February until the end of September, with another month added for playoffs. That adds up to 8 months. The NBA goes from October to June, 9 months at my count. Football players (I'm talking regulars, not taxi squad members) play in 4 pre-season games (with limited playing time for the starters) and 16 regular season games. Playoffs add at most 4 games to that. Travel is limited to 8 road trips of 2 or 3 days duration. NBA players have an 82 game schedule with many road trips af varying length. MLB looks at 162 games, likewise with long and grueling road trips. To me, that adds up to the football player doing a far less demanding job than either the basketball or baseball player. I'll not get into the physical effort required to play the various games. I will concede that a football player has to hit and get hit, but he spends far less time running than a basketball player. Also, the last time I watched an NBA game, it wasn't exactly a tea party out there. Baseball requires athleticism, but not necessarily endurance. What I'm trying to say is that Gene Upshaw might have gotten the NFLPA a little more than they deserved, but always remember that you will get paid what you negotiate, not what you are worth. Brian Gumble's remarks were not consistent with the true situation in the NFL. Like any good reporter or commentator, he was trying to get attention. If he were "plain vanilla" all the time, who would bother to watch?

posted by Howard_T at 08:33 PM on August 21, 2006

I agree with a lot of what has been said above, however, most of it has nothing to do with the story. If ya start drilling holes in the boat your sitting in, someone is going to throw you overboard. If Gumbel wanted to maintain the right to comment on the performance of the NFL commissioner or blast the head of the union, he should nat have taken a job that in essence had him working for the commissioner. As the host of Real Sports he is well within his rights to make the comments he did. However as the play-by-play guy for the NFL Network, he was commenting on things way over his pay grade. This has nothing to do with PC or race. Pure and simple, if ya spit in your bosses face you will pay a price.

posted by CB900 at 11:44 PM on August 21, 2006

Bryant Gumbel. Never liked him. Never will. Nothing to do with race. He just always struck me as aloof and arrogant. Besides he says he hates cheese (all kinds) and there's something just not normal about a man that doesn't like cheese.

posted by commander cody at 11:49 PM on August 21, 2006

Imagine...he's managed to piss someone off AGAIN... Go figure...

posted by wolfdad at 12:53 AM on August 22, 2006

But Gumbel is right -- the NFL players have a much worse CBA than the NBA and MLB. You're darn right they do, bperk, and I would imagine that many NFLPA members are glad he said what he did. Cheers to Bryant for speaking his mind and not giving a damn what the stuffed shirts that are the NFL owners and Tagliabue think.

posted by mjkredliner at 01:33 AM on August 22, 2006

I agree with Bryant, in that it appears to me that the NFLPA is getting a raw deal given the amount of revenue the league generates vs. the percentage that the players get. Add in the short career, risk of injury and non-guaranteed contracts and any hold outs, harball negotiation tactics and trade demands are seen in a new light. Frankly, these players better fight and claw for any advantage they can get.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:16 AM on August 22, 2006

I have never had an opinion about Gumbel one way or another, and have maybe gained a little more respct for him for speaking his mind given the situation. This respect will last right up to the time he files a lawsuit because the NFL dumps him on his ass. If on the other hand he stands by his convictions and really believes what he said, he will accept whatever the NFL does like a man, and not take court action.

posted by CB900 at 12:34 PM on August 22, 2006

Weedy I respectfully dissagree with your points. In the free enterprise system the players have the right to negotiate for whatever they can get for their services, but frankly I totally understand the owners right not to share revenue by percentage. The players are employees not partners, since they would never agree to share losses why should they receive a percentage. Revenue sharing almost destroyed the NHL and the NFL is smarter. The combination of a salary cap for teams, television revenue equally split among franchises, and the league policies toward escalating player salaries, is keeping them successful. The NFL has taken a little more of a hard line toward player conduct and drug use, which shows when compared to the NBA (league of criminals) and MLB (league of chemically enhanced home run hitters). The owners have maintained the highest level of players, allowed players to negotiate as free agents incredible contracts, while maintaining a very competitive, team parity across all its markets. A feat few professional sports have achieved. The high level of competition has kept football television rating very high enabling all teams to remain profitable, players to become rich, and enabling fans to enjoy it on free network television. When something works this well, don't fix it.

posted by Atheist at 01:29 PM on August 22, 2006

The players are employees not partners, since they would never agree to share losses why should they receive a percentage Please don't do this. The difference here is the employees comprise 100% of the value of the product. The owners have maintained the highest level of players, allowed players to negotiate as free agents incredible contracts, while maintaining a very competitive, team parity across all its markets Sure, there's a limited form of free agency after a certain number of years in the league. Players still have to enter the league through a draft that restricts their potential earnings. We hear a lot about parity in the NFL, but I'd be hard-pressed to find a metric that shows more playoff turnover than baseball. And 95% of the success of football is due to the revenue profile: most of it comes from a TV contract that is split evenly among teams regardless of size. A couple of years from now when the luxury boxes, etc. really create a haves and have-nots, we'll see what a Utopia the new commish is dealing with. And we'll see just how well this "works". As I see it, the NFL works for those of us watching on TV and for the people advertising to us and for the owners and companies with luxury boxes and star players (up to a point).

posted by yerfatma at 02:01 PM on August 22, 2006

The players are of course important. But NFL football is the product, and its success has more to do with the game, the marketing, the broadcasting and the coaches. To illustrate the greatness of the game itself just look at other sports. You would be lucky to make money with a minor league baseball team or hockey team. When was the last time college baseball could get TV ratings? Now look at college football or high school football. It's incredible and the reason is the game itself. Yes there are stars, but the game creates them, great teams create them. That is why great football and great games still happen in college football, or Canadian football. If every current NFL player quit tomorrow, and the league just started over with the best college ball players they could hire, the games would still be exciting, the level of play would still be enjoyable to watch, and in three years nobody would know the difference. I am not taking anything away from the great players but the great players make tons of money and the average players don't impact the game as significantly as the coaching or team organizations do. That is why the last strike was such a disaster for the players union. I applaud the NFL owners for having more business sense and balls than the owners of other pro sports. "As I see it, the NFL works for those of us watching on TV and for the people advertising to us and for the owners and companies with luxury boxes and star players" As I see it, those you mention it is working for, are exactly those who are paying the bills, and/or making the money. Perfect capitalism and it does work. Not like say the NHL where the teams and owners loose money, the players are rich and demanding more, a strike happens and everybody including the fans loose.

posted by Atheist at 02:25 PM on August 22, 2006

it is working for, are exactly those who are paying the bills, and/or making the money I wasn't complaining about it, just pointing out it's not a success for everyone. This year you're going to have to have cable or satellite to see some of your local team's games, and that's only going to get worse. Additionally, are the people in the luxury boxes and expensive seats really "paying the bills", or are the shareholders of public companies the ones buying the ads and seats but not receiving them, all the while driving up the price of seats for themselves? I like capitalism enough to defend it from the suggestion sports ticket prices are an example of "perfect capitalism". How can anything that doesn't involve an auction be "perfect capitalism"?

posted by yerfatma at 02:39 PM on August 22, 2006

Is important to remember that any endevor where the potential reward is so high, is never a success for everyone. In any sport, or even entertainment, music etc, where the reward for success is wealth and fame, the great majority of those who chase it never achieve it. It is really the only justification for the giant salaries of the select few. The risk reward ratio. For every athlete who becomes a millionaire, millions more never make it to the top. Sports will never work for everybody. The NFL business must compensate players at the market rate no more no less. I hear a lot about the short career of a pro athlete. But compare the benefits, salary, and pension plan to that of any other industry and try to say how bad they have it. Compared to the dangers of policemen, firemen, coalminers, or convience store clerks, or the job insecurity of sales executives, even the lowest paid of NFL players has it pretty good. Before I could take on the cause of NFL players, I would have to fight for college players who generate even more revenue, are subjected to the same risks, receive no monetary compensation, have no retirement, a limited career and 99 times out of a hundred have to find a job when they are done playing. Nobody is claiming major universities are being unfair. Talk about the exploitation of athletes

posted by Atheist at 04:26 PM on August 22, 2006

Atheist, the athletes to which you refer are getting an education (supposedly), and media exposure for their football prowess in exchange for their wearing the school colors on the field of battle, and football revenues do not go entirely to the football team, in many cases those revenues support the ENTIRE athletic program at their school, and other endeavors as well. Exploitation my posterior region. Tell that to the kids who bust their ass, er, posterior region, tryin' to get a scholarship and don't.

posted by mjkredliner at 05:04 PM on August 22, 2006

I'm sorry MJK, there is no way the NCAA can be defended. Coaches at the big schools are signing contracts paying seven figures a year. The football side of the NCAA grossed about one billion last year, and the guys who go out on the field and play the game not only don't get a share of that, they are not even allowed to hold a job. Every dime the players put in their pockets has to be approved by the NCAA. As for the NFL, I would love to make the league min. for a few years. Shit the guy that is third on the depth chart makes six hundred grand.

posted by CB900 at 05:39 PM on August 22, 2006

Yes it can be defended, most of those kids will never play pro ball, at least they are getting an education, which, if you haven't attended or put a kid through college lately, is pretty damn expensive. If they choose to piss it off, too bad, but for most, it is an opportunity. As for pro and college coaches, and NFL players making "lots of money, there is obviously much more of a market for their services, (ie:they are basically in the entertainment business as well, see: TV Contracts, Large) and they are in much greater demand, than plumbers. "Perfect Capitalism" if you ask me.

posted by mjkredliner at 05:55 PM on August 22, 2006

Atheist, at the risk of revealing my density, I have to ask how you go from this: Perfect capitalism and it does work. to this: Is important to remember that any endevor where the potential reward is so high, is never a success for everyone. My reading comprehension isn't helping me out here, because for some reason, I see a contradiction in your argument.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 06:48 PM on August 22, 2006

most of those kids will never play pro ball, at least they are getting an education Sure, unless it interfers with their ball playing. Robert Smith had to transfer away from Ohio State because the coaches told him taking real classes toward a med degree was screwing with his game prep. College football is no less a business than the NFL, it's just more dishonest about it.

posted by yerfatma at 07:07 PM on August 22, 2006

I grant you that the system isn't perfect, and I do agree a stipend should be paid to ALL scholarship athletes. But the NCAA is far from being completely broken, imho.

posted by mjkredliner at 09:45 PM on August 22, 2006

The_Black_Hand, Why are you seeing a contradiction. Nobody ever said capitalism was fair when it works perfectly. Perfect capitalism has a huge element of risk to reward. Everybody boo hoos about how NFL players have it so tough, how short their career is and what a high risk of injury they are exposed to. I agree. But the players take that risk for a minimum of $600,000 per year. Colleges make billions on football, many players play without a free ride, there is no compensation and the players are exposed to the same risks as pro players are. So before jumping on the NFL which essentially creates millionaires for their efforts, turn your attention to college football which exploites the players for free.

posted by Atheist at 10:12 AM on August 23, 2006

Atheist, there is not one hierarchy of things that must be fixed before something else can be fixed. They can fix the NFL by giving guaranteed contracts and things will be much better for the game -- less holdouts and overall drama. However, any changing of the NCAA system is major. Every football program is not the big Division I programs. There is no easy fix to this problem. Even a minor fix of giving them a stipend could cause huge problems. NCAA does not allow special privileges to be given to football programs over volleyball programs. If the school builds a huge athletic facility for the football team, the volleyball players have to have access to it as well. Everyone complains about the NCAA program being flawed, but fixing it could be an even bigger problem.

posted by bperk at 10:37 AM on August 23, 2006

It must be awesome to make arguments based on the facts as you see them. You conveniently ignore every player that doesn't make the NFL, brushing them under the carpet of "take that risk" and then you simply skate on past the fact college players are not adequately compensated. All the scholarships in all of the NCAA football programs don't come close to the revenues generated for the NCAA.

posted by yerfatma at 10:38 AM on August 23, 2006

That is right, and footballers are not the only athletes exposed to injuries at the college level, remember that. NCAA does not allow special privileges to be given to football programs over volleyball programs. That is why I said ALL scholarship athletes should be given a stipend, whats good for the footballers is good for any other scholarship athlete. They are not allowed to work either, and even if they were, the time they invest in their studies and their sport would largely prevent it. The NCAA needs some reformation, but it is really not the bad thing it is being made out to be. And, Atheist, I would add, that very few of the players on the fields at Div.1 schools are not on scholarship.

posted by mjkredliner at 11:21 AM on August 23, 2006

Okay, then why are athletic programs the only extracurricular activities that warrant stipends? Schools have drama, music, and dance after-school activities that are demanding and prevent working at a job. What about the marching band? They do two-a-days, too.

posted by bperk at 11:48 AM on August 23, 2006

And buy their own instruments.

posted by commander cody at 12:16 PM on August 23, 2006

I agree 100%, bperk. But, remember, that, in many cases the football program of the school is subsidizing those programs already. But yes, I think scholarship students who are involved in extra curricular activities requiring much time and effort should be treated the same as athletes, no better, no worse.

posted by mjkredliner at 02:29 PM on August 23, 2006

that are demanding and prevent working at a job No. Drama club does not explicitly say you cannot hold an outside job. It probably doesn't generate millions for the school either, but that's a different discussion.

posted by yerfatma at 03:27 PM on August 23, 2006

I wasn't thinking about drama club, but there are dance programs at many schools that require auditions and serious commitment. Law school generates tons of money for schools, it is demanding, and you can't hold a job your first year. Instead of creating scholarships for the law school or decreasing tuition, schools use the extra revenue to subsidize unprofitable medical schools and the like.

posted by bperk at 07:23 PM on August 23, 2006

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