Another very good edition of Real Sports. And while the headline story was about Michael Strahan, the tales that moved me the most were ones on an Iowa City high school girls volleyball team overcoming double tragedy and an update on the late Steve Sabol of NFL Films. It’s another great program of storytelling by HBO Sports. It gets another A.
Once again, Bryant Gumbel used the very last segment for a closing comment. Tonight’s commentary was on Lance Armstrong. As you can imagine, Bryant doesn’t pull any punches.
“Finally tonight, congratulations to Oakley. Just yesterday the sunglasses, goggles and apparel company became the latest sponsor to cut ties with Lance Armstrong, the cyclist who for so long posed as a champion yet seems to have been little more than a liar, a cheater, a doper and a briber.
“Even though we’ve witnessed the disgrace of Pete Rose, the exposure of Tiger Woods and the incarceration of OJ, it’s hard to think we’ve ever seen any athlete in any era fall so hard so fast as Armstrong. The guy who bullied his way past any and all accusations for years while hiding behind his lawyers has now been understandably cowered into silence and, at last, officially stripped of all seven of those Tour de France titles that he conned so many into thinking he won, while pocketing millions in the process.
“While I can’t think of any single athlete more undeserving of empathy, I’m sure many will note the money he raised for cancer research and see him as simply a flawed hero. But in light of his cited patterns of deceptions, intimidation, and coercion, it’s hard not to see even his charity work as simply part of his con act. If the accusations of investigators are true, and by now there’s no intelligent reason to doubt they are, Lance Armstrong threatened his friends, bribed his foes, cheated his fans, and deceived his sponsors – all of whom thought he was one of a kind. Turns out there were right, he was one of a kind – the worst kind.
“And that’s our show for tonight. For all of the good folks here at Real Sports, I’m Bryant Gumbel. Thanks so much for being with us. Good night.”
No one is doing commentary as strong as Bryant. Yes, Bob Costas does the “Get off my lawn” commentaries on Sunday Night Football, but not as scathing as Bryant’s. I give this an A.