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Broadcast legends reunite at off-Strip hotel during Super Bowl week

Updated February 7, 2024 - 11:31 am

As thousands of Super Bowl fans partied at Opening Night at Allegiant Stadium on Monday night, the man who will call the game had a quiet dinner with his idol.

Jim Nantz hit up Brent Musburger. The two dined at Michael’s at South Point. The hotel a favorite of Musburger’s, owned by his buddy and Las Vegas resort legend Michael Gaughan.

The catch-up was off the Strip, but it was top of mind for Nantz as he recalled his affection for Musburger during Tuesday’s CBS Sports Media Day at Mandalay Bay.

“I was Brent’s understudy in a lot of different roles at CBS,” Nantz said, remembering being in his mid-20s and succeeding Musburger on the network’s studio college basketball show. “I was 26 when I met him, and we were working events together.”

The characteristically charismatic Nantz has struggled with verbiage in Musburger’s presence.

“There are not many people who get me to a place where the words don’t come out right,” the 64-year-old broadcast star said. “My sentences are upside-down, and my sentences are splintered … But last night I was actually comfortable enough to talk to him like a friend, instead of just an idol.”

Nantz was the one who bade farewell to Musburger on the night of Musburger’s final telecast.

“I said goodbye on CBS when he left in 1990, after he said his goodbye on the air, and thanked him on behalf of the world,” Nantz said. “And you know, it was UNLV against Duke.”

The Runnin’ Rebels’ national championship game on April 2, 1990.

“That was Brent’s last show, ‘You are looking live …’ “Nantz said, quoting Musburger’s signature line. “And he said. ‘I’ve had the best seat in the house.’ It was total class. That is what I’m into.”

Romo on relationship status

Tony Romo, CBS’s color man for Sunday’s game, is known for forecasting the next play. He’s that way in “gaggle” interviews to, prepared for the inescapable topic of Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift.

“I think that, in a perfect world, they wouldn’t have all of the media attention around it. But the truth is, they’re just too dominant at what they do” Romo said “They are special people. I love their hearts, I think they’re both incredible human beings who are super-genuine who treat people the same, no matter what walk of life you’re in. You root for people like that.”

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Don’t bet on it

Longtime Super Bowl fans might recall the occasional betting reference slipped into the telecast. Al Michaels was known to slide in comments like, “This game is not ‘over,’ if you know what I mean.”

But even with sports wagering legal across the country, don’t expect Nantz to delve into betting lines.

“I’m not gonna randomly go in there and starts stating odds,” Nantz said. “I’m here to call the game. I’m here to try to tell a story and document what’s happened. It’s not about statistics, even though you do have to dispense statistic to show why there’s a trend happening in the game.”

Nantz then poked at the chest of one of the media members surrounding him.

“I’m there to try to find what’s going on, right there,” he said. “What’s in somebody’s heart. That’s what makes it interesting.”

Boom time

Boomer Esiason said he has worked some 26 Super Bowls. He reeled them off, “I’ve done eight with CBS; 17 with Westwood One, the national radio broadcast; and I did the Rams-Titans in 2000, for ABC.”

Seems we are missing one … Wait, Esiason played in Super Bowl XXIII for the Bengals. So 27 all together.

“I’ve been around the Super Bowl for a while now,” said the 62-year-old former QB.

Esiason said he felt “happy and mad” that the Super Bowl has landed in Las Vegas.

“I’m happy it’s finally here, because I love Las Vegas,” Esiason said. “But I’m really mad when I think back to the ’80s and ’90s, when I played. I say that, conservatively, I had to turn down about a quarter of a million dollars in appearance fees because you weren’t allowed to come here, as active player, and make that money in a casino.”

Esiason’s first visit to Las Vegas was during the opening of Wynn Las Vegas in 2005.

“I was here with a number of investors behind Steve Wynn, and I got the ultimate, premium tour,” said Esiason, who was not himself an investor in the resort, but a famous guest. “I was treated like the ultimate celebrity at that time. It was one of the most amazing experiences I’d ever had, up to that point. It just blew everybody away.”

Cool Hang Alert

Vegas’ image as a top-tier, sports-entertainment destination is reinforced Thursday night at the Piazza at Tuscany Suites. Broadcast legend (and member of multiple halls of fame) Al Bernstein headlines shows at 8 and 9:30 p.m.

Bernstein will sample freely from the Great American Songbook. He’s backed by keyboardist/bandleader Kenny Davidsen, bassist and singer/songwriter (and also comedian) Dennis Blair and drummer Dave Ramirez.

No cover, 21-over, for this throwback night of Vegas entertainment. Don’t bother requesting “Georgia,” as it’s already on the set list.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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