An apologetic Marv Albert will get his second chance at the same place he got his first.
A broadcasting career that took Albert to the top of his profession before unraveling in an embarrassing sex scandal 10 months ago began when he called New York Knicks and Rangers games on the radio in the 1960s.On Wednesday, the MSG Network said it would rehire Albert to do radio play-by-play of Knicks games and anchor a nightly sports show on television.
"We consider Marv part of the family, and loyalty is important to us," said Dave Checketts, president and CEO of Madison Square Garden.
It was a far more contrite Albert who sat before a microphone at a news conference, saying he was a changed man because of time off and 10 months of therapy.
Albert resigned from MSG in September and was fired by NBC after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge. He was accused of throwing his former girl-friend, Vanessa Perhach, on a bed in a Virginia hotel room in February 1997, biting her on the back more than a dozen times and forcing her to perform oral sex.
After stopping his lurid trial in September to plead guilty to assault and battery, Albert was spared jail time if he stayed out of trouble for a year.
Albert began his news conference on Wednesday by apologizing for his conduct, the very thing his critics said he didn't really do in a round of interviews last November.
"What I did was wrong," he said. "I hurt many people, including my fiancee, my family, my friends and my employers. For that, I am sorry."
He said he'd take his comeback "one step at a time" and wouldn't say whether he would try to get back into network sports. He was NBC's lead NBA announcer before being fired and also called NFL games.
Albert said he would continue his therapy and wouldn't be so work-obsessed, which got him in trouble in the first place. "My lifestyle and my hectic schedule did not allow me to call a timeout," he said.
He'll call about half the Knicks games on the radio, mostly home games. He will also anchor "MSG Sports Desk," a half-hour rundown on New York City sports, beginning Sept. 14. That job harkens back to his days as sports anchor on WNBC-TV in New York from 1975 to 1987.
Although Checketts called Albert family, he said bringing him back was also a business decision. He checked with MSG sponsors and shareholders to see what objections they would have and even spoke to Albert's therapist about whether he was ready.
"I think we're going to get tremendous support," Checketts said. "I think people are going to rally around him. How long do we have to hold some people out . . . and punish them? It's not our right. He's ready to come back."
One expert in crisis communications said Albert's first step back was "totally predictable."
"However, the larger question for the networks and the sports world concerns the message they will send if he is restored to his former status," said Helene Solomon, a principal of Bishoff Solomon Communications in New York City. "Doing play-by-play on the radio is one thing, but television would include not just his voice but the face we now associate with some pretty sordid images."
Albert said he had no control over how people would react to him coming back, or if they would taunt him in sports arenas.