Bryant Gumbel has long been a trailblazer and someone unafraid of controversy.
Long before such folks as Stephen A. Smith or Charles Barkley were ruffling feathers on air, Gumbel was taking on politicians and celebrities as the first, and to date still only, Black principal host of “Today.”
His career has spanned more than five decades, and he has achieved excellence in both the news and sports arenas.
Since the mid-90s Gumbel’s principal broadcasting home has been HBO, where he has served as the host of “Real Sports.” The show has won 33 Emmys and is among the most honored programs in sports journalism.
The interesting thing about that show in addition to his role as host is the fact Gumbel wasn’t their first choice. The show was created as a forum for Bob Costas, but he couldn’t get out of his contract with NBC at the time.
Gumbel throughout his career has been outspoken. He hasn’t hesitated to harshly criticize the International Olympic Committee, the NCAA and the NFL, to cite three of his favorite targets.
While his brother Greg is a CBS broadcaster who works closely with both the NFL and NCAA, that hasn’t muted Bryant’s criticism of either organization.
He’s also been a pioneer in many other areas, including being among the rare Black broadcasters to serve as a host for NBC’s golf coverage.
Throughout his career Gumbel has never accepted the notion there are areas outside the realm or scope of what he could handle coverage wise.
That versatility has earned him not only four Emmy Awards but an Edward R. Murrow award for exemplary journalism.
The latest honor for Bryant Gumbel is coming next month. It was announced last week that at the 44th annual Sports Emmys Gumbel will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award.
As has been the case throughout his career, he will be the first Black recipient of that honor from the Sports Emmys.
Hopefully he won’t be the last, but it is a noteworthy addition to his array of honors, and is recognition of his impressive accomplishments in multiple areas of journalism and broadasting.