Brent Musburger
Musburger in 2007
BornBrent Woody Musburger
(1939-05-26) May 26, 1939 (age 81)
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
ResidenceJupiter, Florida
Alma materNorthwestern University
Home townBillings, Montana (raised),
Chicago, Illinois
Spouse(s)Arlene Clare Sander (1963–present)
ChildrenBlake Musburger,
Scott Musburger
ParentsCec Musburger,
Beryl Musburger
FamilyTodd Musburger (brother)

Brent Woody Musburger (/ˈmʌsbɜrɡər/; born May 26, 1939) is an American sportscaster for the ESPN and ABC television networks. Formerly with CBS Sports and one of the original members of their program The NFL Today, Musburger has covered NASCAR, NBA, MLB, and NCAA football and basketball games. Musburger has also served as a studio host for games, a play-by-play man, and halftime host. He has also performed post game wrap up segments and covered championship trophy presentations. He is a member of the Montana Broadcaster's Association Hall of Fame.[1]

Early life and careerEdit

Born in Portland, Oregon, Musburger was raised in Billings, Montana by parents Cec and Beryl.[2] He was an umpire for minor league baseball during the 1950s. He was also a boyhood friend of former Major League pitcher Dave McNally. His brother, Todd Musburger, is a prominent sports agent.

Musburger's youth included some brushes with trouble: when he was 12, he and his brother stole a car belonging to their mother's cleaning lady and took it for joy ride. His parents sent him to the Shattuck Military Academy in Faribault, Minnesota.[2] Educated at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, he was kicked out for a year for owning and operating a car without a license.[2]

Musburger began his career as a sportswriter for the now-defunct Chicago American newspaper. In 1968 Musburger began a 22-year association with CBS, first as a sports anchor for WBBM radio and later for WBBM-TV. In the mid-1970s Musburger moved to Los Angeles and anchored news and sports for KNXT (now KCBS-TV); there he worked alongside Connie Chung as a co-anchor on KNXT's evening newscasts from 1978 until 1980, when he joined CBS Sports full-time.

CBS Sports (1973-1990)Edit

Beginning in late 1973, Musburger was doing play-by-play for CBS Sports. He started out doing regular season National Football League games (future The NFL Today co-host Irv Cross was also doing NFL games at that time as well). Musburger was paired with Tommy Mason or Bart Starr, who provided the color commentary. A year later, Wayne Walker would be paired with Musburger in the booth.

By 1975, at CBS, Musburger went from doing the NFL play-by-play (and other items, mostly on CBS' Sports Saturday/Sunday programs) to rise to prominence as the host of the network's National Football League studio show, The NFL Today. Suddenly, Musburger began to cover many assignments for CBS Sports. Among the other events he covered, either as studio host or play-by-play announcer, were college football and basketball, the National Basketball Association, horse racing, the U.S. Open (tennis) tournament, and The Masters golf tournament. He would even lend his talents to weekend afternoon fare such as The World's Strongest Man contests and the like. Musburger also called Major League Baseball games for CBS Radio.

The NFL TodayEdit

But it was Musburger's association with The NFL Today that made him famous. During his tenure, the CBS' NFL pregame show was consistently the #1 rated pregame show. One of the signatures of the program was Musburger's show-opening teases to the various games CBS would cover, along with live images from the various stadiums. Musburger's accompanying intro to each visual, "You are looking live at..." became one of his catch phrases. In promoting the network, his voice often tailed off on the last letter of "CBS" ("C.B. eeezz"), creating another catch phrase.

Musburger made headlines when he got into a fist-fight with The NFL Today's betting analyst Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder in a Manhattan bar on October 27, 1980. Only two years earlier, the two had co-announced the 1978 World Series of Poker. However, the fist-fight incident was quickly regarded as water under the bridge as the two cheerfully appeared on The NFL Today the following week wearing boxing gloves on camera.

CBS departureEdit

By the late 1980s, Musburger was CBS's top sportscaster. He was the main host and play-by-play announcer for the NBA Finals, college basketball, college football, the Belmont Stakes, and the College World Series. He also hosted a New Year's Eve countdown for CBS. Musburger is regarded as the first broadcaster to apply the term March Madness to the annual NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship tournament.[citation needed]

Early in 1990, CBS underwent a significant management change. During the early morning hours of April 1, 1990, Musburger was fired from CBS. His final assignment for CBS came the following evening, doing play-by-play for the 1990 NCAA men's basketball final, which was Duke versus UNLV. When the game was completed, Musburger thanked the audience and CBS Sports, and the analysts that he had worked with through the years like Billy Packer, who was standing next to him.

At the time of his firing Musburger had been set to handle play-by-play duties for CBS's television coverage of Major League Baseball later that month; he was replaced by Jack Buck in that capacity. His position at The NFL Today was filled by Greg Gumbel. His position as the lead play-by-play announcer for college basketball was filled by Jim Nantz.

ABC Sports and ESPN (1990-Present)Edit

Following his dismissal from CBS, Musburger considered several offers – including one to return to Chicago and work at WGN-TV. Musburger settled at ABC. With Al Michaels entrenched as ABC's top broadcaster, Musburger focused on college football and basketball. After his hiring, ABC's merger with ESPN under the Disney umbrella allowed him[3] to work on ESPN and ABC Sports divisions in 2006, including Major League Baseball, NBA games, ESPN Radio, golf tournaments, horse racing, the Indianapolis 500, Little League World Series, soccer games, college football, and even some NFL games (including hosting halftime duties for Monday Night Football and Wild Card round games).

Musburger's college football duties has included calling two BCS championship games, the 2000 Sugar Bowl and the 2004 Sugar Bowl (both on ABC). He also announced the 2010 BCS National Championship Game for ABC in January 2010 as well as the 2011, 2012 and 2013 BCS National Championship Games for ESPN. Musburger has also covered the Tour de France for ABC.

File:College Gameday Bus 2006 Austin Texas crop.jpg

Since 2006, Musburger has called ABC Sports' college football prime time series, along with analysts Bob Davie and Kirk Herbstreit. Musburger called the 2007 Rose Bowl, taking over for the recently retired Keith Jackson. He also has called some games on ESPN.

After Al Michaels was hired by NBC in February 2006, Musburger became the face of ABC Sports/ESPN on ABC. He was the main studio host during ABC's coverage of the 1998 World Cup and the 2006 World Cup, and was also the studio host for ESPN and ABC's NASCAR coverage.

In 2010, Musburger voiced his support for a college football playoff in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times.[4]


1968 column on Tommie Smith and John CarlosEdit

In 1968, while a columnist for Chicago's American, Musburger penned a controversial column regarding Tommie Smith and John Carlos's protest of racial injustice in the United States with a Black Power salute on the medal stand during the 1968 Summer Olympics. In it he stated "Smith and Carlos looked like a couple of black-skinned storm troopers" who were "ignoble," "juvenile," and "unimaginative." In a 1999 article in The New York Times, Musburger stated that comparing the two to the Nazis was "harsh", but he stood by his criticism of the pair's action:

Did [Smith and Carlos' action] improve anything?... Smith and Carlos aside, I object to using the Olympic awards stand to make a political statement.[5]

In June 2012, Dave Zirin of The Nation called on Musburger to apologize to both Carlos and Smith for the column where he also extolled the virtues of then-President of the International Olympic Committee, Avery Brundage, who Zirin described as an "avowed white supremacist and anti-Semite."[6]

According to Carlos, Musburger never apologized:

We are talking about someone who compared us to Nazis. Think about that. Here we are standing up to apartheid and to a man in Avery Brundage who delivered the Olympics to Hitler’s Germany. And here’s Musburger calling us Nazis. That got around. It followed us. It hurt us. It hurt my wife, my kids. I’ve never been able to confront him about why he did this. Every time I’ve been at a function or an event with Brent Musburger and I walk towards him, he heads the other way.[6]


On September 17, 2005, after broadcasting the Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Pittsburgh Panthers, Musburger was cited for an open container in a motor vehicle.[7]

On September 18, 2006, University of Southern California Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone sent a letter to ESPN, complaining that Musburger revealed privileged information during his broadcast of the September 16, 2006, NCAA football game, in which the USC Trojans hosted the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Musburger disclosed that he had learned a signal used by Trojans quarterback John David Booty in a pre-game conversation with the quarterback. USC claimed this information was for private purposes only. Tessalone said "I've never seen such an egregious breach of trust. Brent is not a rookie at this, and he should know better." ESPN and Musburger released separate statements, saying they regretted the confusion. Musburger also appeared on ESPN Radio's Dan Patrick Show, saying that there was never an intention of putting team secrets on the air.[8]

On October 5, 2010, Musburger told a class of college journalism students at the University of Montana that professional athletes under a doctor's supervision could potentially use steroids to improve performance. He said that steroid use should have no place in high school athletics.[9]


Musburger has a down-home manner of speaking, often addressing his viewers as "folks." In a Sports Illustrated profile done on Musburger in January 1984, he stressed his hesitance to "pontificate" during his broadcasts. CNN Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel selected him as the second-best college football announcer, behind Ron Franklin. Mandel said of Musburger, "His voice will always be associated with some of the sports' most memorable modern moments."

Other mediaEdit

Musberger was a reporter in Rocky II, and had his role immortalized in a 1979 action figure.[10] He also made cameo appreances in The Main Event, The Waterboy and Cars 2. He appeared as himself in the episode "Lying Around" on the ABC sitcom Happy Endings.[11]

Career timelineEdit


  1. "Brent Musburger (1939 - )". Montana Broadcasters Association. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Not Just A Pretty Face". Sports Illustrated (Turner Sports & Entertainment Digital Network). January 16, 1984. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
  3. After being fired from CBS, Brent Musburger lands a high-profile job at ABC and a lucrative contract
  4. O'Donnell, Jim (January 7, 2010). "Musburger takes Chicago roots to highlight game". Chicago Sun-Times.,brent-mushburger-chicago-roots-010710.article.
  5. Richard Sandomir, Now on Film: Raised Fists And the Yogi Love Letters, The New York Times, August 6, 1999, accessed September 10, 2012.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Dave Zirin, After Forty-four Years, It's Time Brent Musburger Apologized to John Carlos and Tommie Smith, The Nation, June 4, 2012, Accessed September 10, 2012.
  9. Briggeman, Kim (2010-10-05). "Sportscaster Brent Musburger Says Media Out Of Depth On Steroids". Missoulian. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
  11. Murschel, Matt (2011-11-03). "Brent Musburger makes cameo on ABC’s ‘Happy Endings’". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-12-14.
  12. Bowl Championship Series – Musburger, Brent
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Reiss, Craig (June 1, 1990). "Brent bounces back". Entertainment Weekly.,,317495,00.html.
  14. "I want my Musburger TV". CNN. June 25, 2004. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  15. Deseret News | Move over, football, hoops: NASCAR is back on ESPN
  • Sandomir, Richard "TV Sports: Now on Film: Raised Fists And the Yogi Love Letters", New York Times, 6 August 1999

External linksEdit

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