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Keith Olbermann’s career has turned so many times that it’s easy to forget that he was a sports anchor before he became the disaffected progressive’s basic-cable Edward R. Murrow of choice. But NBC hasn’t forgotten, today naming him–after a six-year absence from sports–co-host of Football Night in America, joining Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth, Jerome Bettis and Tiki Barber. [Update: a six-year absence from TV sports; thanks, Monkey4.] From the announcement:

“Keith helped to elevate the medium of sports television earlier in his career, and now he will add his original style and flair to ‘Football Night in America,’” said [NBC Sports chairman Dick] Ebersol. “I’m delighted to welcome him back into the NBC Sports family.”

“This will, obviously, be great fun and a great privilege for me,” said Olbermann. “To be reunited with NBC Sports, and Dick, and the entire production team, produces all the warm-and-fuzzies you’d be expecting. And even if they weren’t old friends and colleagues, to get to work with the nonpareil of sportscasters in Bob, and the most insightful and honest of sports analysts in Cris, will be rewarding and challenging. I hope I can hold up my end of the equation.”

Before anyone runs off to write a Kos diary about the job offer as a corporate plan to silence his nightly commentary, don’t worry: Countdown will continue. The more salient question may be the Dennis Miller question, which is to say, having become a Serious Public Figure, will Olbermann be too highfalutin for sports fans? (That is, do football fans think that the medium needs, as Ebersol puts it, to be “elevated”?)

I’ve freely admitted before that I’m not the biggest follower of TV sports, but I suspect it’s not as much of a worry with Olbermann. Besides his obvious sportscasting background, he’s never shown as much need to impress his audience with his inner thesaurus as Miller. (Not to mention, Costas is one of the smartest TV journalists out there–on sports or any other subject–and that’s never alienated football fans.)

All the same, I eagerly await the naming of Sean Hannity to the Fox Sunday football booth.

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