Olympics / Sports

NBC's Bob Costas returns to prime-time duty

ST. LOUIS -- NBC Olympics prime-time host Bob Costas was back on the job, and while far from 100 percent physically he was at the height of his wisecracking game.

"Welcome to NBC's prime-time coverage on this Monday, I'm Bob Costas sitting in for Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira," he quipped while signing on.

Costas had anchored 157 consecutive prime-time Olympics broadcasts for the network, dating to 1992, before being sidelined after the broadcast Feb. 10 because of an infection. It began in his left eye then spread to the other one.

"My sincere thanks to Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, two friends and true pros who stepped in for me on short notice," he said in his opening remarks. "My thanks as well to all of you expressed your concern."

And Costas, whose career roots are deep in St. Louis, said he was sorry for being absent.

"And my apologies to everyone for the unavoidable but uncomfortable circumstance of a broadcaster's ill-timed affliction getting in the way even for just a few moments of what we all came here for . . . the Olympic Games."

Earlier in the day, Costas said on a conference call with reporters that he is about 80 percent recovered.

After being asked if he still was uncomfortable, he said: "I would say I'd rather not feel this way for the rest of my life but I would say on the injury list of 1-10, this is now at about a 2."

He still was wearing thick glasses Monday, as he had done at the beginning of the Olympics before he missed six prime-time broadcasts. And he said at one point he thought there was a slight chance he would miss the rest of the Games.

"I think there was probably a point three or four days ago where I thought there was maybe a 10 percent chance that might happen because there was one day where it kind of stalled and even seemed to go backwards for a little while." he said. "But I've had excellent medical care and they've changed the care up along the way as circumstances dictated. And so they adjusted to that.

"I always thought it was likely that I would be back. I was hoping to be back on the weekend. I always thought it was likely, not certain, but likely that I'd be back (Monday) which makes sense, start of a week at least of a work week. So I thought that possibility was remote."

He said he wasn't concerned as much about being absent himself as he was about those who had done much research and helped him prepare for his assignments.

"My thought was, all the people, all my colleagues and friends who work so hard, many of them harder than I work, putting in 18-20 hour days and I just want to hold up my end of it.

"You know, it's like your team takes the field for a big game you want to be able to do your part of it. It doesn't necessarily have to be the most important part, it is the most visible part; but you want to uphold your end. And that was my frustration. ... And if it got to the point where I couldn't do any of the remainder of the Olympics we would have accepted that, too.

"I wasn't going to come back just for the sake of coming back," he said. "But my main feeling of frustration was just that, you know, my friends and colleagues were working hard and I wasn't a part of it."

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