When the news came out that Brent Musburger was leaving ESPN and heading to Vegas to talk sports gambling on a daily radio show, it made perfect sense. Musburger had long been known for his love for betting and odds, from his CBS NFL Today segments with Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder to his many on-air gambling references and his references to his “guys in the desert,” and he even hijacked a post-retirement interview with Dan Patrick to make it all about gambling. Now, Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post has caught up with Musburger out in Vegas, and it seems the new life is suiting him just as well as you’d imagine:
Musburger had driven to the South Point from his new apartment. Before he found the place, the South Point simply gave him a room upstairs in its hotel for three weeks. Literally, the first thing Brent Musburger did after four decades in broadcasting was live in a casino.
For those weeks, Musburger would head downstairs at 6:30 a.m., to drink his first cup of coffee in the lounge just off the sportsbook. As he read the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Los Angeles Times, he could catch the early crowd coming in and the late crowd straggling out. His wife would sometimes wonder how Musburger felt about his semi-retirement project.
“ ‘How you doing?’ Arlene would say to me,” Musburger said. “ ‘Oh, Arlene, you can’t believe it, I can’t wait to get out of here.’ And I’m thinking, ‘Whoa, if she only knew. I’m right in the middle of all this!’ But she really does know. We’ve been married 55 years. She gets it. She gets it.”
She must. In 2002, Musburger invited Flatter, his longtime ESPN Radio producer, to attend the Belmont Stakes in the afternoon and then watch a prizefight between Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis at ESPN Zone in New York that night. On the limo ride back into Manhattan, after a day of betting races, Musburger blurted, “Hold on, I have to give Arlene a call.” Musburger pressed his cell phone to his ear, and when Arlene answered, Flatter heard him shout, “Happy anniversary!” It was their 39th.
There are plenty of other interesting tidbits in that profile, including details on Musburger’s “My Guys In The Desert” daily two-hour show, the people he interviews on it and how it all seems to be going smoothly so far. In fact, nephew Brian Musburger, who’s been key in putting this altogether, said over 200,000 people streamed the show Sunday night through the Vegas Stats & Information Network’s website. That seems to be a total rather than an average, so his claim that “We may have beaten FS1” doesn’t seem true, but still, even a total of 200,000 is pretty impressive, especially considering that others were listening on Sirius XM.
Kilgore also discusses the history of sports betting in general and Musburger’s betting in particular (he said he’d regularly place bets on games through friends, from $50 to $500, but not on games he called), and there’s a hint of controversy (Musburger tells Kilgore “It’s great working for a group that, when I see a beautiful woman, I can call her a beautiful woman,” a reference to some of the controversies that have dogged him), plus the revelation that Musburger has signed a two-year deal with VSiN (with him saying “If I’m having as much fun as I did today with the guys, I may do it a lot longer.”). The biggest takeaway seems to be just how much Musburger is enjoying this new role, though:
“Time flies when you’re having fun!” Musburger said. “Two hours went by like that.” He snapped his fingers. Musburger read a South Point promo, signed off and clapped his hands.
It’s good to see that Musburger seems to be settling into the new role, and really enjoying it so far. There also seems to be an audience for what he’s doing. We’ll see how it goes, but it’s good to hear that the fit of Musburger plus a Vegas show about sports betting seems just as natural as you’d ponder.