From growing up watching Kilborn, I always got the sense that he knew deep down he wouldn’t be long for the job because he felt he was too smart and/or clever to just be doing sports highlights. This piece from the Los Angeles Times in 2010 regarding his first comeback gives some insights into why Kilborn stepped away from the spotlight, and perhaps why he’s never really stepped back in it: “I enjoyed retirement the right way — linguine con vongole, red wine and plenty of truffle cheese. He’s since lost 15 pounds and looks like his old self. Not one for reflection, Kilborn claims he has never questioned his decision and is tired of people looking for some secret reason behind his departure.
“I didn’t leave to do anything else, I left to leave,” he said, acknowledging that he actually knew early into his stint that this wasn’t the job for him.“I thought late-night was crowded …
He felt that he’d done what he’d come to do and at that point in his career nothing had seemed to be especially interesting.
Eventually he came back with an idea for a show called The Kilborn File, but after a six-week showing it was cancelled and Kilborn simply bowed out of Hollywood altogether save for cameos now and again.
Before Kilborn, nobody probably thought to use “Jumanji” for a slam dunk highlight. Since then, Kilborn has largely vanished back into nothingness aside from the small guest roles here and there mentioned above.