How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

Dick Ebersol, the real man beyond the business guy

May 20, 2011: 3:55 PM ET

It's a stunner that Dick Ebersol quit NBC Universal (CMCSA) yesterday. The man who ran NBC Sports for 22 years. The King of the Olympics. The guy who hired Lorne Michaels, who created Saturday Night Live. Ebersol produced SNL during a short stint outside sports entertainment -- and got the girl when actress Susan Saint James hosted the show. They fell in love and married.

None of that drama, though, compares to the tragedy of losing their youngest son, 14-year-old Teddy, in a plane crash in Colorado in 2004. Ebersol himself survived the accident and recovered (if you can call it that) from the loss of his son in part by raising his game: He won the broadcast rights, at a cost of $3.6 billion, for NBC and delivered Sunday Night Football, which has buoyed the troubled broadcast network these past few years.

If you want a sense of Dick Ebersol, the real human being, read my 2006 Fortune profile, "Playing with pain."

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About This Author
Pattie Sellers
Pattie Sellers
Senior Editor at Large, Fortune
Executive Director of MPW/Live Content, Time Inc.

Pattie Sellers has written more than 20 Fortune cover stories including "Marissa Mayer: Ready to Rumble at Yahoo," "Muhtar Kent's New Coke," "Oprah's Next Act", "The $100 Billion Woman" (Melinda Gates), and "Gone with the Wind" (Ted Turner). She co-founded Fortune Most Powerful Women and oversees the Fortune MPW Summit, the preeminent gathering of women leaders in business and beyond—and programs such as Fortune MPW Entrepreneurs and the Fortune-U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership. Pattie also develops Live Content across Time Inc. Her blog, Postcards, is about how power players lead and navigate their careers. Pattie won Time Inc.'s prestigious MVP award for her performance in 2012.

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