Gumbel is a veteran newscaster, former Today Show anchor, and current host of the HBO jock show Real Sports. Don't be confused: his older brother, Greg Gumbel, is also a sportscaster.
Born in New Orleans, Gumbel began his television career as a sportscaster in Los Angeles. Three years later he made his national debut on NBC on the NFL pre-show GrandStand. Over his tenure with NBC Sports he covered everything from the MLB to college basketball and the Olympics. By the early 80s Gumbel integrated the morning audience with his brief "Sportsman of the Week" segments on the Today Show. But when Tom Brokaw left his Today Show post for the Nightly News, Gumbel snagged the spot after he impressed executives during his last-minute substitution one morning for Jane Pauley. Gumbel had a rocky start on the show, as he was under constant scrutiny for his lack of hard-news experience. However, he eventually earned acclaim for his 1984 series from the Soviet Union, and by 1986 the Today Show earned back its top slot in the ratings. Controversy brewed in 1989 when a memo by Gumbel criticizing Willard Scott, that old coot, was leaked to the press, but Gumbel apologized on-air and continued on as anchor until 1997. Although he stuck to his morning show roots for a spell on CBS's The Early Show and briefly worked as a play-by-play announcer on the NFL Network, Gumbel has spent most of his energies focusing on Real Sports, HBO's hard-hitting sports show that he's hosted since 1995. Never one to shy away from controversy, Gumbel garnered criticism from his remarks that the Winter Olympics lacks African-American participation and his referring to NBA Commissioner David Stern as a "plantation overseer" during the lockout in 2011. [Image via Getty]