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An unvarnished, warts-and-all view of the multibillion-dollar sports industry has put Costas in a class all his own. “I’ve never been reluctant to ask journalistic questions,” he says.
Indeed, an unexpected interview with Jerry Sandusky — the former assistant football coach at the center of a sex-abuse scandal that has rocked Penn State — had Costas bluntly asking Sandusky whether he was a “pedophile” who is “sexually attracted to young boys” and how he felt being regarded as “some sort of monster” by millions of Americans.
“It was a legitimate news story that went beyond Sandusky,” Costas recalls, “and raised questions about how col- lege sports is policed.”
An on-air essay on the NFL’s “knuckle-heads” suggested that players “confine [their] buffoonery to situations that don’t directly damage” their teams and asked when coaches would bench players whose antics cost them penalty yards.
But Costas, 60, who married second wife Jill Sutton in 2004 and has two grown children from his first marriage, manages to walk a fine line between watchdog and fan. “In many respects, football is a brutal game in which violence isn’t just tolerated, it’s celebrated,” he says.
Expect Costas to bring that same bracing honesty to NBC’s coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games in London where, beginning July 27, he’ll spend five hours a night on the air for 17 straight nights.
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