Only hours after learning Fox Television Network had outbid CBS for the NFL's glamour conference, "NFL Today" co-hosts Terry Bradshaw and Greg Gumbel sat through an emotional dinner.
"I started to cry," Bradshaw said.Two days later, Gumbel says he thinks "our reactions might have been premature. Now, we wait."
Friday night, the NFL confirmed Fox had taken the NFC package from CBS, the NFL's original network. Immediately, CBS made a bid for the AFC, which NBC has televised since 1970.
"We're very elated," Fox owner Rupert Murdoch told The Associated Press via telephone from an undisclosed vacation spot. "If you'd have seen me on Friday, I'd have seemed very depressed. I didn't think we would succeed."
Gumbel said Murdoch's success sent shock waves through CBS. They're still there, along with the confusion and the uncertainty, Gumbel said. "But I think mostly, by and large, it's wait-and-see until we find out what happens with the other situation," Gumbel said.
The CBS and NBC bids for the AFC are before the NFL's broadcast committee, which could make a decision as early as Monday. The loser is out of the pro football business.
CBS' lead football analyst, John Madden, was pessimistic, a sentiment shared by many others at CBS.
"I think it's all over for CBS, and NBC will keep the AFC," Madden said. "CBS is the odd man out."
While trying to hold out hope, even if slim, Gumbel couldn't argue too strenuously.
"I don't pretend to know enough about the whole scenario to be any kind of expert on it," Gumbel said. "I'm sure that Madden, with the people he knows and as long as he's been in the game, is much more confident of some of the things he says."
The AP first reported Dec. 8 that Fox had made a major bid for NFL games. In the weeks preceding the bombshell announcement, however, speculation was that Fox would go after NBC's AFC package. What was surprising was that Fox went after the NFC package instead and was willing to pay a whopping $1.58 billion over four years.
"I didn't actually make up my mind to go to that figure until Thursday afternoon," said Murdoch, adding Fox didn't have any contact with the NFL until after Thanksgiving and made its first presentation about 10 days ago.
Earlier this year, CBS lost major league baseball to an NBC-ABC-major league baseball conglomerate known as The Baseball Network. Now, if its bid for the AFC is unsuccessful, CBS will be without rights to any of the four major pro sports leagues.
Both baseball and the NFL, however, were losers from a business standpoint, costing the network millions in losses. What's left - not to mention David Letterman - are more lucrative properties such as golf, tennis and the Winter Olympics, as well as CBS' exclusive $1 billion contract with the NCAA for college basketball.
CBS has U.S. rights to the Masters and PGA Championship and U.S. Open tennis. The 1994 Lillehammer Games in Norway will be CBS' second straight Winter Olympics.
"There are those of us who do a variety of things," Gumbel said, "but there will be a lot of people, here or at NBC, whoever doesn't get the AFC, looking to go elsewhere."
That would include employes of all levels, from producers and directors to analysts to guys who get coffee.
Madden, for example, does nothing but football. If CBS doesn't have footall, where does he go? Bradshaw is in the same situation. And what about former coaches Mike Ditka and Joe Gibbs, who are analysts for NBC? They could be looking for work, too.
"Obviously, there's no reason for them to stay at a network where there is no football," Gumbel said.
Asked if he would hire Madden, Murdoch said, "Yes, absolutely."
And, as much as anything, breaking these older partnerships is what's sad.
"It's a kind of thing born as much of personal relationships as anything else," Gumbel said. "Terry and I obviously not only are in a good situation and have a good relationship that produces a good job, but we also enjoy each other a great deal.
"I would hate to see that end. None of it is fake. The way we act on the air is the way we act when we're out to dinner together or on the phone during the week."