Gumbel was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the first child of parents Richard Gumbel, a judge, and Rhea Alice LeCesne. As a young man, Gumbel grew up on Chicago's South Side, where he attended and graduated from De La Salle Institute. Before becoming a broadcaster, Gumbel graduated with a B.A. degree in English from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa where he also played on the baseball team. He also has two sisters, Renee Gumbel-Farrahi and Rhonda Gumbel-Thomas.
In 1973, Greg's brother Bryant Gumbel informed him that a Chicago TV station (WMAQ-TV) was auditioning for a sports announcer. At the time, Greg was selling hospital supplies in Detroit. He ultimately got the job and worked there for seven years. The sportscaster he replaced, Dennis Swanson, went on to become president of ABC Sports.
Prior to his rising to prominence at CBS, Gumbel worked for MSG, ESPN, and WFAN radio in New York City. At ESPN, he anchored the show SportsCenter and did "play-by-play" for early NBA games. On MSG, Gumbel served as a backup announcer for Marv Albert on New York Knicks broadcasts as well as providing coverage for college basketball. When MSG signed a huge contract to broadcast New York Yankees games in 1989, Gumbel served as host of the pregame and postgame shows. In addition to his MSG duties, he was the host of the first radio morning show on radio station WFAN.
Gumbel's CBS career began with part-time work as an NFL announcer in 1988. Also in 1989, Gumbel began announcing college basketball as well. He became host of The NFL Today (alongside Terry Bradshaw) for the 1990 to 1993 seasons. He also anchored CBS' coverage of Major League Baseball, college football, and, in 1999, CBS' coverage for the Daytona 500.
Besides his hosting duties, Gumbel provided play-by-play for the NBA (alongside Quinn Buckner), Major League Baseball including the 1993 American League Championship Series (alongside Jim Kaat), and College World Series baseball.
He was the prime time anchor for the 1994 Winter Olympic Games from Lillehammer, Norway and co-anchor for the weekday morning broadcasts of the 1992 Winter Olympics from Albertville, France.
Gumbel moved to NBC in 1994 following CBS' losses of the NFL and Major League Baseball broadcasting contracts (Gumbel's last on-air assignment for CBS was providing play-by-play for the College World Series). While at NBC, Gumbel hosted NBC's coverage of the 1994 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. He also did play-by-play for the 1995 Major League Baseball National League Division Series and National League Championship Series (on both occasions, teaming with Joe Morgan), did play-by-play for The NBA on NBC, hosted NBC's daytime coverage of the 1996 Summer Olympics from Atlanta, Georgia, hosted the 1995 World Championships of Figure Skating, and served as the studio host for The NFL on NBC.
Gumbel left NBC after the network broadcast of Super Bowl XXXII to return to CBS. His first major assignment was to serve as studio host for the network's coverage of college basketball, including the NCAA men's basketball tournament, something he continues to do to this day.
As CBS had just acquired the rights to NBC's previous NFL package, Gumbel joined the broadcast team as the lead announcer with fellow NBC alumnus Phil Simms as his color man. Gumbel was the lead announcer for the NFL on CBS between 1998 and 2003, calling Super Bowls XXXV and XXXVIII. For the 2004 NFL season, Gumbel traded positions with Jim Nantz as host of The NFL Today with Nantz taking over as lead announcer. At the end of the 2005 NFL season, Gumbel was replaced as studio host of The NFL Today by James Brown. Gumbel returned to the broadcast booth as the #2 play-by-play man, replacing Dick Enberg, alongside color man Dan Dierdorf until Dierdorf retired after the 2013–14 NFL season. Gumbel also worked alongside Trent Green in the #3 team as of 2014. Gumbel now works alongside James Lofton in the #5 team as of 2017.
Greg, his wife Marcy, brother Bryant, and Greg's married daughter Michelle all reside in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area.
In 1999, Gumbel refused to attend a NASCAR banquet honoring Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, on the basis that he disagreed with Thomas' positions on political issues. He has regularly appeared on Howard Stern's radio show. Along similar lines, Gumbel said of Rush Limbaugh, "I find him someone whose words and opinions I can do without."
Gumbel is the third man to serve as both host and play-by-play announcer for Super Bowls (the first two were Dick Enberg and Al Michaels respectively). He hosted Super Bowls XXVI, XXX, and XXXII before calling Super Bowls XXXV and XXXVIII. Jim Nantz became the fourth man to do so after he called Super Bowl XLI for CBS.
During his tenure as the chief anchor of The NFL Today, he served alongside co-anchors Dan Marino, Shannon Sharpe, and Boomer Esiason. The group was known to call him by his nickname "Gumby."1979–1988: ESPN – Reporter, Anchor, Play-by-play
1989: MSG Network New York Yankees – Play-by-play
1989–1994: College Basketball on CBS – Play-by-play
1990–1993; 2004–2005: The NFL Today – Studio host
1991: Seattle Mariners Television – Play-by-play
1992–1993: Cleveland Cavaliers Television – Play-by-Play
1992: Winter Olympics – Weekend morning host
1994: Winter Olympics – Primetime host
1994: Major League Baseball All-Star Game – Host
1994–1995: MLB on NBC – #2 Play-by-play
1994–1998: NFL on NBC – Studio host
1994–1997: NBA on NBC – #2 Play-by-play
1995: World Figure Skating Championships – Host
1998–2004: NFL on CBS – Lead play-by-play
1998–present: College Basketball on CBS – Studio host
1990–1994; 2000–2002: College World Series on CBS – Play-by-play
2006–present: NFL on CBS – Play-by-play (2006–2013: #2)