Greg Gumbel is a long-tenured sports broadcaster who has been affiliated with numerous sports — professional and college — in his 43 years in the studio. His experience behind the microphone includes working for companies such as ESPN, NBC Sports and most recently CBS. His nickname early in his career was “Waterfall” because of his tendency to perspire.
Over the years, Gumbel has become a fixture of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament broadcast on CBS.
Throughout the years, Gumbel has switched back and forth between the working in the broadcast booth doing play-by-play commentary and anchoring back from the studio.
But it didn’t always seem like he’d be such a prominent figure in the sports broadcast world. Gumbel’s journey to where he is today offers quite a unique ride.
Here’s what you need to know about the 70-year old:
1. Gumbel’s Younger Brother Is a Well-Known TV Journalist
Gumbel has a big family –- two sisters, Rhonda and Renne, and well-known younger brother, Bryant.
Bryant also has a long career in sports broadcasting and is best known for spending 15 years as the host of NBC’s Today show.
In fact, Greg got his start in the broadcasting world with the assistance of Bryant. When they were kids, Bryant and Greg took turns pitching and providing commentary in front of a mirror in simulated baseball games. Soon enough, those activities turned into dream careers for the pair, and both worked hard to obtain them.
It was Bryant who let Greg know that a TV station in Chicago was auditioning for a sports announcer. Greg applied for the job and landed it, working at the station — WMAQ-TV — for seven years.
Bryant has hosted HBO’s investigative sports program, Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel since 1995. It’s been rated as the best sports program by the Los Angeles Times, and he won a Peadbody Award for his role in the program in 2012.
Greg is the son of Richard and Rhea and is married to Marcy. The couple have a daughter together, Michelle.
2. Prior to Broadcasting, Greg Sold Medical Supplies In Detroit
He worked in the field for a while until Bryant sent him the job lead for the sportscaster gig in Chicago.
In a recent interview with The Chicago Tribune, Greg said selling the medical supplies wasn’t a dead-end job like many would think…he just ended up growing tired of the on-call nature of it at times.
Look, don’t get me wrong, that was a very good job with a good company and great support … and I was successful at it. It was just not something I liked, to have a director of nursing calling my home at 5 in the morning asking where her needles and syringes were. I’m happy I made the jump.
Once he inevitably made that leap to the broadcast booth, it didn’t take too long for Gumbel to find his groove and never look back.
3. Outside of Leading the NCAA Tournament Coverage, Greg Is the Host of Showtime’s Inside the NFL
Of course, Gumbel isn’t only known for his broadcasting abilities for NCAA basketball. He’s also been involved with the NBA, at one time working as the play-by-plan man for the New York Knicks in the 1970s and the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1990s. In addition, Gumbel has also been a broadcaster for professional baseball.
Gumbel’s been in the booth for many big MLB games, including the American League Championship in 1993. He was also the anchor for the 1994 Winter Olympics and 1996 summer Olympics on NBC.
Perhaps his biggest moments have come working for professional football. He made history when he became the first black broadcaster to call a Super Bowl. He was on NBC’s broadcast for Super Bowl 32 in 1998 and joined the CBS NFL broadcast team alongside former NFL quarterback Phil Simms. He was so good at it that he became the lead announcer for CBS and called Super Bowls 35 and 38 on the network.
In 2004, Gumbel assumed as new role for CBS as the anchor for The NFL Today, a pre- and post-game studio analysis show before being replaced by James Brown. He was sent back to the booth to work as a play-by-play man for NFL games after that.
In 2014, Showtime’s Inside the NFL changed its look and formulated a new cast. It pegged its lead anchor as Gumbel, and he’s been in the role ever since.
The show analyzes each game from the previous NFL week and looks ahead at the next slate of games.
4. Gumbel Refused to Attend a Banquet Honoring Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
Gumbel made headlines in 1999 with his refusal to attend a banquet that was honoring Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
The dinner is an annual event for NASCAR’s Daytona 500, and Gumbel was all set to attend his very first one. He ended up going to the race, but not to the banquet.
Thomas was the “grand marshal” of the race, and Gumbel declined to attend his honorary dinner because he didn’t agree with his political opinions.
Gumbel said he “politely declined” Thomas’ invitation to attend. Thomas is a longtime racing fan and notably opposed affirmative action and other liberal doctrines, The New York Times reported in 1999.
The article states that Gumbel categorizes himself as a liberal and said it would be “hypocritical to break bread with Thomas.”
5. Gumbel Has Won 3 Emmy Awards & Is Involved With Charities
In his well-documented career as a sports broadcaster, Gumbel has added a few awards to his mantle.
He’s a three-time Emmy Award winner for his sports broadcasting achievements, and was the 2007 honoree for the Pat Summerall award.
But it’s not only his time telling viewers about the sports they’re watching that he’s most passionate about. Gumbel also was a member of the National Board of Advisors for The March of Dimes for a decade.
The non-profit organization was established by President Franklin Roosevelt after his personal struggle with polio. He created the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis and became better known as The March of Dimes. In the beginning, the group worked to establish a polio patient aid program and helped fund research for vaccines, its “About Us” page states.
With its original mission being accomplished, the group switched its focus to helping prevent infant mortality and birth defects. Nowadays, it helps fund research into the causes of birth defects, promotes newborn screening and educates.
Gumbel is also a member of the St. Jude Children’s Hospital Sports Council.