NEW YORK — The job status of Bryant Gumbel, scheduled to be the play-by-play broadcaster on eight late-season games on the NFL's in-house network, could be the subject of a discussion by league officials after Gumbel's suggestion that commissioner Paul Tagliabue show his successor "where he keeps Gene Upshaw's leash."
Tagliabue said Monday that incoming commissioner Roger Goodell and Steve Bornstein, who runs the NFL Network, will discuss the remarks after Goodell takes office Sept. 1.
Upshaw is the executive director of the NFL Players Association and Tagliabue's friend.
Gumbel addressed his closing remarks on HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" last Tuesday to Goodell.
"Before he cleans out his office," Gumbel said. "Have Paul Tagliabue show you where he keeps Gene Upshaw's leash.
"By making the docile head of the players union his personal pet, your predecessor has kept the peace without giving players the kind of guarantees other pros take for granted. Try to make sure no one competent ever replaces Upshaw on your watch."
Gumbel mentioned NFL owners on his show, too, saying Goodell should "gently remind those billionaires who gave you the job that they're already making obscene amounts of money."
Tagliabue said he strongly disagreed with the tenor of Gumbel's comments.
"I think things that Bryant Gumbel said about Gene Upshaw and the owners are about as uninformed as anything I've read or heard in a long, long time, and quite inexcusable because they are subjects about which you can and should be better informed," Tagliabue said.
Tagliabue was asked if he thought Gumbel should remain with the NFL Network.
"Having looked at how other people have had buyer's remorse when they took positions, I guess they suggest to me that maybe he's having buyer's remorse and they call into question his desire to do the job and to do it in a way that we in the NFL would expect it to be done," the commissioner said.
Gumbel, once the host of the NBC pregame show and later co-host of "The Today Show," said when he was hired that no restrictions had been put on his ability to comment on what he sees on the field.
"It's a lot like covering any story," he said. "You see what is front of you and you report on it."