The deal that lets ABC Sports veteran Jim McKay
participate in NBC's telecast of the Winter Olympics from Salt Lake City in 2002 was an all-in-the-family negotiation, it turns out. The deal was hammered out by Dick Ebersol, the president of NBC Sports; Howard Katz, his counterpart at ABC; and-surprisingly-Sean McManus, the president of CBS Sports. That's because McManus is McKay's son, and he was at a luncheon when informal talks led to the deal. According to Ebersol, McManus "was there brokering for his dad and made the deal on every level except the money." (Turns out McKay's wife, Margaret, did that dickering). McKay has broadcast 12 Olympics games, all presented by ABC. Next year, he'll work as a prime time commentator during the NBC telecasts from Utah. In what's said to be an unprecedented gesture, ABC granted special permission to McKay, who has a lifetime contract with ABC. Ebersol said the network owed an "enormous debt of gratitude to ABC for its unprecedented kindness and generosity."
McKay will do features, commentary and nightly in-studio conversations with prime time host Bob Costas, who said McKay has an unparalleled ability to "mix journalism with humanity," as he did during the 1972 Munich games when terrorists slaughtered more than a dozen Israeli athletes. McKay's coverage of that event was just one of two times that a sports broadcast was nominated for a news Emmy.
Ebersol first approached Katz about borrowing McKay for the Olympics almost two years ago. NBC got the official OK last year. Ebersol told reporters the 79-year-old McKay might bring back viewers to the games: "For anybody over the age of 25 or 30, it was Jim who first brought them the power and majesty of the games. He strikes such a resonant chord. It's just a great treat for us."