Bob Costas had planned on hosting one final Super Bowl in 2018 before stepping away from NBC but was yanked from coverage following his comments about football's link to brain damage, the veteran sportscaster told ESPN.
"My thought was, 'What line have I crossed?'" Costas then went on CNN days later to calm the firestorm, giving NBC Sports credit for letting him to speak so candidly over the years about such an important issue.
"The issue [in sports] that is most substantial-the existential issue-is the nature of football itself", he told the audience at the University of Maryland. Following the symposium, Costas' comments - including "The reality is that this game destroys people's brains" - were picked up by the Washington Post.
After WaPo published Costas' quotes, which also included "if I had an athletically gifted 12- or 13-year-old son, I would not let him play football", NBC released a statement saying, "Bob's opinions are his own, and they do not represent those of the NBC Sports Group".
"I remember being told that now I can no longer host the Super Bowl", Costas said in a companion piece for "E:60" that aired Sunday.
Costas left NBC Sports formally in January after working for NBC Sports for four decades.
According to Costas, he received a text within an hour of the CNN interview from NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood.
The breaking point in the relationship appears to be an essay Costas wrote for his once-usual address on "Football Night in America", the pre-game show before NBC's broadcast of "Sunday Night Football".