A competition unlike any other
You lose the Super Bowl, and you are back in training camp in a few months. You lose the World Series, and spring training comes around. But Olympians step out of the shadows and into the biggest international spotlight only once every four years — and for some, maybe just once in a lifetime.
It surprises me how many people remain under the mistaken impression that the host is responsible for programming the Olympics. The number of times I have decided we should switch from track and field to a Michael Phelps interview or lead with basketball instead of gymnastics is exactly zero.
The vagabond life
You learn to pack quickly and efficiently. You find yourself eating at odd hours, and I love to eat. If I didn't have the metabolism of a hummingbird, I would weigh 200 pounds. And no matter how tired I am, I cannot sleep if light enters the room, so I make sure there are blackout curtains.
Shake it off
In most cases you just let the criticism go. Anyone who is good at what they do already is self-critical. I have a pretty good handle on when I've done as well as I am able or when I have fallen short of my own standards. While some criticism can be thoughtful and constructive, in the present atmosphere, much of it is merely snarky or just plain false.
'Boyish' good looks
With the help of good lighting and good genes, I get by. When my mom was 80, she looked like she was 50. I am at the point where — and many of your readers will understand this — people say, "Boy, he looks good for his age!" Which is not the same thing as, "Boy, he looks good."
When you sat in Carson's guest chair, you turned slightly toward the audience now and then. But every time I came back to face him, he was making eye contact, seemingly interested and amused by whatever it was I was saying. That was part of his genius. He could make you feel you had his complete attention.
"Now I roll up torpedoes, get blunted with Rastas./For a hefty fee, I'm on your record like Bob Costas." Of course, my street cred has always been incredibly high, but being mentioned in his rap only increased it.
As an acquaintance, O.J. was greatly likable, but in the end, in my opinion, he was clearly guilty [of murdering two people]. An American tragedy.
To be the best
Without dedication to craft, talent alone — no matter how abundant — brings you up short of what you could be.
If I go out wearing a sport coat, I tuck my 1958 Mickey Mantle card in the breast pocket. It's easier to remove when someone says, "Hey, Bob, do you have the Mantle card?" Even if I go out in jeans and a T-shirt, I always put it in my back pocket. You don't want to disappoint anybody if they ask. People seem to get a kick out of it.
—As told to Jon Saraceno