After missing six days of action due to a pesky eye infection, veteran sportscaster Bob Costas is ready to resume is role as NBC's prime-time anchor for coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
According to NBCOlympics.com, Costas will return to the desk on Monday after having his streak of 157 consecutive appearances as Olympics prime-time anchor snapped.
During Costas' absence, Matt Lauer of the Today Show hosted prime-time coverage four times, while Today Show cohost Meredith Vieira took the reins twice, making her the first woman to host NBC's Olympics in prime time.
As seen in this photo courtesy of Buzzer on Fox, Costas was in no condition to be hosting, although he battled through his ailment for as long as he possibly could:
Not surprisingly, Costas put his plight into sporting terms when it became apparent that he would have to take some time off. In a phone interview with Lauer on Today, Costas compared himself to a pitcher trying to finish an outing before comparing Lauer to the greatest closer in baseball history.
Reluctantly, I was trying to throw a complete game here, but I think we're going to have to go to the bullpen, and I don't know if you're aware of this or not, but you're Mariano Rivera, at least tonight. Let's hope it's only tonight. I'm walking around, I might as well be playing "Marco Polo." I have no idea where I am.
Is it wise for Costas to return to action?
Costas' absence lasted longer than he initially anticipated, but he is finally set to make his way off the disabled list. Though the eye infection allowed Lauer to assume a prestigious role, the Today anchor is presumably happy to see Costas back in the game. At one point, thanks to his double duties on the Today show, Lauer was on air for NBC 30 of 61 hours. Lauer expressed sympathy for his colleague on Feb. 11.
"I just feel bad for him," Lauer said. "He looks forward to these Games for so long, and he's the best that's ever done it. If he could be in that seat, he'd be in that seat."
Many, including Seth Davis of CBS Sports, felt the same way:
I hope Bob Costas' eyes heal quickly. He is the best in the business and has always been great to me. What a bummer.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) February 11, 2014
There is no question that both Lauer and Vieira did a fine job filling in for Costas, but the sports world isn't exactly their domain. The 61-year-old Costas is one of the best in the business, and few have more big-event experience than he does.
With huge events on tap for Monday, including Meryl Davis and Charlie White's attempt to become the first American gold medalists in ice dancing, Costas' return couldn't have possibly come at a better time.
Few sportscasters can equal Costas in terms of knowledge coupled with an ability to paint a vivid and sophisticated picture verbally. His presence at the Olympic prime-time desk is a calming one, so NBC's coverage will feel whole again for those who tune in on Monday night.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter