Longtime ESPN NFL Reporter Hank Goldberg Dead at 82

Hank Goldberg, a longtime NFL reporter and handicap expert for ESPN, died on Monday, according to his family. He was 82 years old. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Goldberg died at his apartment in Las Vegas, where he had loved since 2018. Goldberg's sister, Liz Goldberg, said his death was caused by complications from a long battle with chronic kidney disease. Monday was his birthday. 

Goldberg, who was also known as Hammering Hank, began his career in the 1970s in Miami. At the time, Goldberg was an assistant to handicapper Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder and was appearing as a local radio and television host for the last 25 years. He began his career at ESPN in 1993 when ESPN 2 launched. During his 21-year run with the network, Goldberg was .500 or better in 15 of 17 NFL seasons while predicting games. 

"I used to call Al Davis every Sunday morning for information," Goldberg told the Review-Journal this year. "When they hired me at ESPN, I called Al to thank him. "And Al paused for a second, and he said, 'Well, I made (John) Madden. And I made you.'"

Chuck Espositio, the sportsbook director at Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, said Golberg was a big star every time he walked into the building. "My friend Hank, who knew everybody and was never at a loss for words, used to come out for every Super Bowl and started doing his Super Bowl segment (for ESPN) live from the sportsbook at Caesars Palace," Esposito told the Review-Journal. "We had the centurion guards carry him in on a big chair like Caesar would be carried in on, and they put him down in the book. We had Cleopatra girls fanning him with the big palms and feeding him grapes, and I said, 'Hammer, what's your Super Bowl pick?'"

Various colleagues and fans paid tribute to Goldberg on social media. Former ESPN personality Kenny Mayne wrote: "Hank Goldberg died today-on his birthday. We can honor him with our best stories of what we shared with him. I'm gonna play some races with him in mind & send the winnings to voter registration groups. Hank bet on both." 

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"The first person I met in broadcasting 44 years ago was Hank Goldberg," Joseph Zagacki, the voice of Miami Hurricanes sports said. "Today the hammer passed away on his birthday. Hank was a storyteller, had a big heart and ran a good race."