Joe Buck isn't nearly as upset with the guest who ransacked his HBO debut as are his boss and many viewers who heard comedian Artie Lange's profane appearance.
Lange, a sidekick on Howard Stern's raunchy radio show, appeared near the end of the premiere of "Joe Buck Live'' on Monday and went on a homophobic, profanity-filled rant that overran Buck and the other guests in that segment - entertainers Paul Rudd and Jason Sudeikis.
Lange's tirades overshadowed not only Buck but an earlier interview he had with Brett Favre, whom Buck got to talk to for the first time about being on track to possibly come out of retirement to play for the Minnesota Vikings.
Lange ripped Dallas quarterback Tony Romo and called his girlfriend, singer Jessica Simpson, a "fat chick" who reminds him of the late comedian Chris Farley. Near the end of that segment of the show, conducted in New York, he told Buck, "I'm sorry to ruin your (expletive) great show." Buck responded, "I appreciate the apology, because you have."
But Buck defended Lange somewhat on Tuesday.
"I will guarantee that Artie Lange went on and gave us everything he thought we wanted to get," he said, adding that after the show Lange "came up to me and said, 'How was that? Good? Is that what you wanted?' I think that was a reference to what I said to him before the show - 'Have fun, let loose. If you want to rip me, rip me.'"
But he said Lange went too far.
"He crossed the line, but I'm sure it's not something that he doesn't do when he's on with Conan (O'Brien) or (David) Letterman," Buck said. "They have the ability to edit that stuff out. We don't - that's live TV.
"To him what I said was license to go into a dark area I wasn't anticipating. I thought I was going to get the Letterman-O'Brien (toned-down version of Lange) but I got something my kids would be punished for watching on the Internet.''
HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg was more riled than Buck.
"Frankly, we were stunned," he said, adding that in hindsight it might have been best to cut the program short. "It was an eight-minute segment and we probably could have gone off the air a few minutes early. I was thinking, 'How much of this am I going to be able to take?'"
He said it was not practical to take Lange off the air.
"There was no way to get him off the stage without it looking like a skit," he said. "The whole thing caught us off guard."
Lange said Tuesday on Chris Russo's satellite radio show that HBO should have known better.
"Artie Lange's on HBO," Lange said. "You think I'm going to do a psalm from the Bible?"
The conversation turned even more crude when it continued on HBO's website after the television show. When the heavyset Lange was balancing a cigarette between his lower lip and his chin, Buck said, "That's impressive, I think it's in chin No. 4.
Lange shot back, "No. 4 - the show you won't get into. You're out of your league, Buck. Stick with play-by-play.''
Buck wrapped it up by saying, "We're signing off on HBO.com not a moment too soon."
But it actually was sooner than had been scheduled.
"We had planned on a 15-minute version" Greenburg said. "But at about the 7- or 6-minute mark I said, 'Forget this, just get off.' In retrospect I could have just pulled it altogether, but we had promoted it. ... But there was a point when I said, 'I can't take any more of this.'"
Buck said the fact that Lange is on the Stern show probably has caused him to be desensitized to where that line is drawn in mainstream society.
"My line is the old line," he said, adding that he doesn't like that vulgar conduct being associated with a program that bears his name. But he said there was little he could do.
"You're damned if you do, damned if you don't" take some kind of action, he said.
"After the show I went back to the hotel and watched it. When you're in something like that you really feel like it's hanging there and awful. But the way it was (presented) took some of the edge off. I think the real crude stuff was more online. ... If you look at the (TV) show, no doubt it's bad, the language is awful, but it didn't feel as horrendous watching it as it felt sitting there."
Still, it was uncomfortable.
"The whole time I'm listening I was thinking of my two daughters (ages 13 and nearly 10) who were in the crowd," Buck said. "I went back to the hotel afterward and pre-emptively washed their mouths out with soap."
Lange ripped Greenburg on the Stern show Tuesday, saying between expletives that Greenburg had told him beforehand that if Rudd and Sudeikis "get boring, you go nuts."
Greenburg said that's not so.
"I said, 'Look, if it gets boring in this segment I want you to pick the energy up.' I said, 'We need your energy.' That's a far cry from going crazy, which he did. I felt he lost his mind."
Greenburg said the episode doesn't tarnish HBO Sports.
"I'm not Pollyanna," he said. "Our network has been known to air some off-color television. But (Lange) did it to himself. I think most people realize we were blindsided. I think we embellished our image off of the Favre 'get' and Joe's really solid interview. ... We loved the Brett Favre buzz and nothing has overshadowed that, not even the great Artie Lange."
But as Tuesday wore on the Lange episode was garnering more attention than Favre.
"The bottom line is that people know the show exists," Buck said.