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This story first appeared in the July 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
On NBC’s Now, Mickey Mantle (whose four sons have struggled with addiction) sat down with Bob Costas post-Betty Ford and weeks after his son Billy’s death from Hodgkin’s disease in March 1994. Costas asked, “How much do you think the life you led may have influenced your kids?” Replied Mantle, “I was not a good father.”
The slugger sat down with Costas on MLB Network in January 2010 to confirm he was taking steroids when he broke Roger Maris‘ home run record in 1998 while with the Cardinals. Costas, says Dick Ebersol, “will never steer away from telling you both sides of a modern-day athlete. But rarely, if ever, will he indict that person.”
In March 2001, for HBO’s On the Record, Costas challenged McMahon on the authenticity of the XFL — envisioned as an alternative to the NFL — and suggested its WWE association cast the XFL as a “low-rent” property for NBC. McMahon called Costas an “elitist” and repeatedly jabbed his finger at him.
The actor had not talked publicly about the drowning death of his 2-year-old son in neighbor W.C. Fields‘ swimming pool until Costas drew him out in 1991 on NBC’s Later With Bob Costas. “Maybe I’d developed enough trust and rapport that he knew this very personal story wouldn’t be exploited,” says Costas.
In a stunning moment of vulnerability, the 60 Minutes correspondent revealed to Costas on Later in 1988 that he was suffering from depression, at a time when the disease still carried social stigma. “Bob listens,” says Ebersol, who created the late-night talk show. “He goes where the conversation goes.”
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