I was a first grader at Anona Elementary in Largo, Florida in early 1978. My grammar teacher, Mrs. Phelps, had given us a bunch of newspapers and told us all to find words with three syllables in them in the text. Somehow, I found a sports section of the St. Petersburg Times, and a column about what sporting events would be on in a recent weekend that had gone by.
I definitely knew about Howard Cosell by that time. But my eyes spied the name of Brent Musburger, then one of the top broadcasters over at CBS. Perfect for my use, or so I thought. Musburger has three syllables, but I got dinged by Old Lady Phelps because I had used a common name. I briefly protested the dinging; aren’t names words, I wondered?
When thinking about Brent’s work now that I’m an adult, I often call him the Geraldo Rivera of the world of sports. Some people think I mean that as some sort of dis at Musburger, but when you think about their careers, Geraldo and Brent are eerily similar to each other. They each rose to prominence in the 1970’s, and were household names by the next decade if you watched TV back then with any regularity. They’ve also each had some moments in their career they probably would each regret. Geraldo had that thing with Al Capone’s vault that wouldn’t open in the allotted broadcast time. With Brent, you can probably go back to The Human Fly the CBS Sports Spectacular had back in 1975. (A guy on the fuselage of a plane? How is THAT a sport?!?)
Brent’s firing at CBS back in 1990 and retirement tonight on ESPN are each incidents with no real explanation, just a lot of mystery. He does have his new satellite radio venture over at VSIN in Las Vegas, so in my many ways, he’ll be emulating one of his former colleagues, Jimmy “The Greek” Synder.
Folks (see what I did there?), I wish Brent the best in luck in his future plans. Hope he does some podcasts or writes a book, as I bet he’s got some war stories over his career worth reading or hearing.