Brent Musburger has stayed active since his departure from the ESPN/ABC broadcasting booth in January 2017, becoming the public face of the Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN), the sports-gambling-centric media outfit created by his brother and nephew. Its home base is Las Vegas, naturally, which in 2020 will become the home city of the Oakland Raiders.
And so Tuesday’s news didn’t exactly come as a shock, even if Musburger is getting along in years at the age of 79: As confirmed by Gilbert Manzano of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the broadcasting legend will become the new radio play-by-play voice of the Raiders, starting this season. He’ll have a three-year deal, with the final year coming in the Raiders’ first season in Las Vegas.
Musburger will replace Greg Papa, the Raiders’ radio voice since 1993 who was well known for his “TOUCHDOWNNNNN RRRRRAIIIIDERRRRS” call on the team’s scoring plays. Papa was quite close with former Raiders owner Al Davis until the latter’s death in 2011, but less so with Davis’s son, Mark, who now runs the team. In January 2015, Papa criticized the Raiders for interviewing Mike Shanahan about a possible return to the team as its head coach. Shanahan and Al Davis had a legendary feud following the former’s stint as the team’s coach in 1988 and ’89.
“You don’t have to sell me on Mike Shanahan. He can coach 31 other teams in the league. He cannot coach the Raiders, in my opinion,” Papa said. “As close as I am with Al and was with Al, and knowing the animosity that he felt toward Mike Shanahan, the fact that we’re having this discussion is beyond disrespectful, to me. To me, it’s just not worth it. It’s not worth it to have him revitalize the franchise. It’s not like this is a different ownership group. It’s Al’s wife and Al’s son that are running it. And to run it in such a regard that would show him no respect, it just would not be worth it. You don’t have to sell me about Mike Shanahan. I know what a great coach he is. I don’t want him coaching the Raiders.”
Mark Davis returned fire the next day in a talk with Tim Kawakami, then with the Mercury News.
“There’s somebody out there in the media that really thinks this is just a terrible thing or it’s me being totally disrespectful to my dad and everything like that,” Davis said. “Listen, this is something I learned from my dad — you talk to everybody because you can learn from everybody.”
Papa, who holds various other sports broadcasting jobs in the Bay Area, had yet to be informed of the move, according to Manzano, but he seemed to be resigned to something in a brief Twitter comment on Tuesday afternoon:
Musburger began his national broadcasting career in the early 1970s calling NFL games for CBS Sports before becoming host of the network’s iconic “The NFL Today” pregame show in 1975. He moved to ABC after CBS fired him in 1990, focusing mostly on college football and basketball play-by-play but also hosting the network’s “Monday Night Football” halftime show from 1990 to 1995.
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