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Sports Then and Now



The NFL Today – One of a Kind 2

Posted on May 24, 2020 by Dean Hybl

In the world of television and entertainment, every show likes to claim that it is unique and different, but the reality in a world where most programming follows successful formulas is that very few are actually unique and different. One program that was definitely unique and different was the CBS NFL Today Pregame football show that hit the airwaves in 1975.

In 1975 CBS reinvented the NFL pregame show with The NFL Today featuring Brent Musburger, Phyllis George and Irv Cross.

Officially, CBS began airing a pre-recorded pregame show called the NFL Today in 1961 and over the next decade and a half the pregame show had a number of iterations and hosts, including Johnny Lujack, Frank Gifford, Pat Summerall and Jack Whitaker. It also featured during 1970 a pair of groundbreaking women as journalist Marjorie Margolies, who would later serve as a member of congress, and actress Carole Howey were brought on-board to provide weekly features.

In 1974 CBS went to a wraparound pre and post game program known as The NFL on CBS that included a live pregame show hosted by Whitaker.

After one year of that formula, CBS went back to the name The NFL Today for their pre-game show in 1975 and ultimately created a formula that would prove to be magical.

Serving as the host for the new NFL Today program was veteran sports anchor and play-by-play announcer Brent Musburger. Musburger was the sports anchor at WBBM-TV in Chicago and also had become a play-by-play announcer for CBS’s NFL coverage in 1973. He would serve as the lead host for the program and anchor of the weekly half hour live broadcast (which actually for several years was three different live broadcasts aired for the different time zones).

Read the rest of this entry →

You Are Looking Live – Remembering the Career of Brent Musburger 1

Posted on January 29, 2017 by Dean Hybl

There was Brent Musburger on the far left sitting with Joe Namath poolside prior to Super Bowl III.

There was Brent Musburger on the far left sitting with Joe Namath poolside prior to Super Bowl III.

Part of the memory for all sports fans are the faces and voices of the announcers and commentators who have helped connect us with great sports moments. As someone whose first memories of television sports include watching the NFL Today during the 1970s, Brent Musburger is one of those figures for me. His catch phrase of “You are looking live” still makes me excited and indicates that I better pay attention because something big could be about to happen. The announcement this week that the 77-year-old Musburger will be retiring from play-by-play duty on January 31st will leave a void in the sports world, but he has provided generations of fans with some great memories.

A graduate of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Musburger began his career in the late 1960s and very quickly found himself in the middle of the action and controversy.

Writing for Chicago’s American newspaper, Musburger covered the 1968 Olympics and the controversial “black power” salute by Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos. In the article, he stated that “Smith and Carlos looked like a couple of black-skinned storm troopers” who were “ignoble,” “juvenile,” and “unimaginative.” Years later Musburger said that comparing the two athlettes to Nazis was “harsh”, but stood by his opinion that the Olympic stage was not the appropriate place to make a political statement.

Just a few months later, Musburger found himself poolside in Miami as one of a handful of reporters sitting with a brash young quarterback who was holding court before Super Bowl III. As it turned out, Joe Namath was just the first of many Super Bowl heroes with whom Musburger would rub elbows.

Beginning in 1968, Musburger was first a radio and then television anchor for WBBM in Chicago. He later moved to Los Angeles where he was a news co-anchor at KNXT (now KCBS-TV) and worked alongside Connie Chung.

In 1973 Musburger began serving as a play-by-play announcer for NFL games on CBS – his color commentating partners included Bart Starr, Tommy Mason and Wayne Walker – and two years later was given the role that would make him famous. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hall of Famer Tony Oliva
      July 17, 2022 | 2:15 pm
      Tony Oliva

      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

      Read more »

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