CBS Icon Greg Gumbel: exclusive with Chicago's Very Own

CBS Icon Greg Gumbel: exclusive with Chicago's Very Own

Greg Gumbel is the third man to serve as both host and play-by-play announcer for a Super Bowl (the first two were Dick Enberg and Al Michaels). He hosted Super Bowls XXVI, XXX, and XXXII before calling Super Bowls XXXV and XXXVIII. Jim Nantz became the fourth man to join this elusive group after he called Super Bowl XLI for CBS.

Greg Gumbel is the older brother of news and sportscaster Bryant Gumbel (although Bryant has been in the broadcasting game for three more years). Greg is the first African-American announcer ever to call play-by-play of a major league sports championship in the United States when he announced Super Bowl XXXV for the CBS network in 2001. He was born in Louisiana but raised in Chicago.

Both Gumbels attended De La Salle Institute (same high school that produced Mayor Daley) and grew up in Hyde Park. Greg Gumbel did all his socializing on the North Side while living on the South Side (the same Hyde Park neighborhood as Muhammad Ali). He later lived in Lakeview, just off Lake Michigan at Melrose between Broadway and Sheridan. Greg Gumbel also resided at Edgewater Beach apartments.

Bryant Gumbel told Greg Gumbel about an opening at WMAQ-TV NBC 5 in Chicago, and that sports reporter job was how Greg got his first gig.

I had an exclusive with Greg Gumbel at NFL on CBS Media Day. Very honored to have him as today's CSMW interview guest.

Related: here's Greg's take on this year's Bears team, Marc Trestman etc.

Paul M. Banks: tell me about your time at WMAQ-TV

Greg Gumbel : It's where I got my start; in March of 1973, I worked there for seven and a half years, it was a nice learning platform. Local news was frustrating to me because local news really isn't about sports. Local news is fine with the local sports team until they are no longer in contention. And you couldn't explain to these idiots running the place that sports fans don't care if they're in contention or not, they want to know what their team did."

Whereas management thought they're no longer in contention, so you don't need that. Bull you do need that. So there was a certain amount of frustration built into doing local news, but it was a good learning platform and from there I went to ESPN and then to Madison Square Garden to CBS.

Banks: what's been the most exciting assignment you've had, out of all the Super Bowls and Final Fours?

Greg Gumbel: there have been several, not sure I could single out any one, spending weeks in Lillehammer Norway, a place that I never ever dreamed I would travel to, I did the Winter Olympics there. Albertville, France for the 1992 Winter Olympics, and if someone asked did you ever expect to do that? I'd have to say no.

Banks: how about the influence your brother has had on you and vice versa

Gumbel: I don't know that we're very much alike in many ways, I think that he' been more of a studio guy, I'd like to consider myself both. As far as someone to look up to, he's been terrific because he's done so many things, and he's so damn good at it. I just had dinner with him last night, and we get together and we argue. It's just like when we were kids, he's the Cub fan, I was the White Sox fan.


Banks: journalism role models and mentors

Gumbel: I've always enjoyed Pat Summerall's football. I've enjoyed Dick Enberg's basketball, I remember him doing college basketball. I don't know anyone who doesn't believe Vin Scully is the ultimate baseball announcer. While I don't believe in copying someone, the world is full of copy cats, and while I wouldn't try to do that, I do look up to those people and what they accomplished and how they set the tone for a broadcast.

Greg Gumbel is paired Dan Dierdorf this season for CBS. The first game he'll call is New England at Buffalo in week one. Week two they get San Diego at Philadelphia, week three Houston at Baltimore and week four Jets at Titans.

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An analyst for 95.7 The Fan, he also writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)

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