Bryant Gumbel quits NFL Network

By Judd Zulgad
Updated: April 12, 2008
MINNEAPOLIS — Bryant Gumbel’s two-year stint as a play-by-play announcer for the NFL Network came to an end Friday when the league announced Gumbel has decided to resign.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to call NFL Network games the past two years, which was a new experience for me,” Gumbel said in a press release. “But we’ve agreed that we’d all be better served going in different directions.”

Gumbel, along with analyst Cris Collinsworth, worked an eight-game package for the NFL Network’s late-season Thursday and Saturday night games. Best known for the 15 years he spent as host of NBC’s “Today Show,” Gumbel’s hiring by the NFL surprised many because of his lack of play-by-play experience.

He found himself frequently criticized for on-air mistakes and his play-by-play style.

Gumbel, whose brother Greg does play-by-play of NFL games for CBS, did have sports experience, having worked for NBC Sports from 1975 to 1982. Bryant Gumbel also serves as host of HBO’s award-winning “Real Sports” program.

The NFL Network will immediately begin a search for a new play-by-play announcer to work alongside Collinsworth.

“We appreciate everything Bryant did in helping us launch our NFL Network game telecasts,” NFL Network President and CEO Steve Bornstein said. “Bryant helped create interest in our first foray into televising NFL regular-season games.”

“He is one of the great broadcasters of our time and we are honored to have worked with him.”

Tom Hammond, who has worked for NBC Sports since 1984, is a strong possibility to replace Gumbel. Hammond has worked extensively at NBC with the analyst Cris Collinsworth, who is the NFL Network’s lead analyst.

Hammond also filled in for Gumbel for the NFL Network’s broadcast of a Denver Broncos-Dallas Texans game in December when Gumbel was sick.