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Al Michaels distinguished by NBC as “Member Emeritus” after 36 NFL prime time seasons; Thursdays next

AL MICHAELS FORMALLY BACK IN – ON NBC

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Iconic broadcaster Al Michaels formalized his broadcast partnership with NBC Sports. The announcement was made yesterday by Peacock sports boss, Pete Bevacqua. Al was first joined at the hip with NBC in 2006 when tapped by longtime gun, Dick Ebersol. Michaels then joined NBC Sports as the web’s play-by-play voice of Sunday Night Football. He continued in a high-level role, becoming among the most revered television play-by-players ever. 

I don’t know who dubbed him with the term emeritus, yet the name couldn’t match anyone better. Pick the words. They’ll match accordingly; superb, esteemed or spot on. At 77, it would be lots of laps, tons and accomplishments. 

Bevacqua sang Al’s praise immediately: “Revered by viewers and colleagues, Al has been the soundtrack for many of the greatest moments in sports television history,” adding, “We are thrilled that he’s staying in the family and raising the stature of our events for years to come.”

Referencing Michaels’ name with no mention of Mike Tirico, Al’s successor, is high praise from Bevacqua. Emeritus is like a player having his or her uniform number retired. It could explain why Tirico isn’t  even mentioned an iota in the press release. NBC feels that Al is simply invaluable to Comcast as. I’d agree. 

Michaels will now officially do a handful of regular season games on NBC this fall and one playoff match. There’s also talk of some baseball on Peacock for the man who did his first World Series 50 years ago with Curt Gowdy. For someone who will be assigned 15 Thursday night games on Amazon Prime, an additional layer on NBC, is a heavy ask. Still Al is up to the task. He will certainly work with aplomb. Or as he says, alacrity.

THURSDAYS ON AMAZON – AL MICHAELS – PLAY-BY-PLAY

Weeks#   Date       Opponents      Starts Sep. 15

2          Sept. 15    Los Angeles Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs

3          Sept. 22    Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns

4          Sept. 29    Miami Dolphins vs. Cincinnati Bengals

5          Oct. 6        Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos

6          Oct. 13      Washington Commanders vs. Chicago Bears

7          Oct. 20      New Orleans Saints vs. Arizona Cardinals

8          Oct. 27      Baltimore Ravens vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

9          Nov. 3       Philadelphia Eagles vs. Houston Texans

10        Nov. 10     Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers

11        Nov. 17     Tennessee Titans vs. Green Bay Packers

12        Nov. 24     Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots

13        Dec. 1       Las Vegas Raiders vs. Los Angeles Rams

14        Dec. 8       San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks

15        Dec. 15     Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New York Jets

16        Dec. 22     Dallas Cowboys vs. Tennessee Titans

NBC – Sunday Nights,  Al Michaels will fill in for newly and fully assigned, Mike Tirico

1        Sept. 8 (Thu)           Buffalo Bills vs. Los Angeles Rams

1        Sept. 11                    Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys

2        Sept. 18                    Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers

3        Sept. 25                    San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos

4        Oct. 2                        Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5        Oct. 9                        Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens

6        Oct. 16                      Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles

7        Oct. 23                      Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Miami Dolphins

8        Oct. 30                      Green Bay Packers vs. Buffalo Bills

9        Nov. 6                       Tennessee Titans vs. Kansas City Chiefs

10      Nov. 13                     Los Angeles Chargers vs. San Francisco 49ers

11      Nov. 20                     Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

12      Nov. 27                     Green Bay Packers vs. Philadelphia Eagles

13      Dec. 4                       Indianapolis Colts vs. Dallas Cowboys

14      Dec. 11                     Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

15      Dec. 18                     New England Patriots vs. Las Vegas Raiders

16      Dec. 25                     Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Arizona Cardinals

17      Jan. 1                       Los Angeles Rams vs. Los Angeles Chargers

18      Jan. 8                       TBD

Backups in Bristol

As for the ESPN NFL backups this fall, the versatile Steve Levy will be behind Joe Buck. Louis Riddick, who was hoping for an on-team administrative position and didn’t get it, will work with him. Brian Griese, who left ESPN as part of the Great NFL Broadcast Shuffle of 2022, he’ s going onto to the field as a a QB coach. According to the New York Post, ESPN has asked Dan Orlovsky to do color when when Aikman is away. (ESPN #2 NFL crew; Levy, Riddick and Orlovsky, former NFL QB.) 

I don’t know who’s worse behind the microphone? Orlovsky is hysterical and Herbstreit gets paid by the word. What’s America come to? If Herbie listens to Uncle Al a bit, there’s some hope for him. Michaels (left) and the late Pat Summerall have each done, 11 play-by-plays of Super Bowls.

Michaels has also worked nine Olympics and called eight World Series. In December 2020, Michaels was honored with the 2021 Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Michaels is one of only five broadcasters to be recognized with the baseball honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Awards, (Dick Enberg, Lindsey Nelson, Jack Buck, and Curt Gowdy). (The only two to win all three, hoops, football and baseball are  Enberg and Gowdy)

The title bestowed on Michaels, emeritus, is well deserved and clever. I’ve not seen it awarded in sports broadcasting, at least not yet; Athletic Directors and some coaches might. The talented Roy Firestone calls Al, “America’s Sports Announcer.”

Congrats to the NBC PR team for allowing the word emeritus  to evolve into the sports media nomenclature.

 

 

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David J. Halberstam

David is a 40-year + industry veteran who served as play-by-play announcer for St. John's University basketball in New York and as radio play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat in South Florida. He is the author of Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History and The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts.

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Michael Green
4 months ago

In my line of work, emeritus is a reward for a long career, and what you get for it depends on what you negotiate. I suspect Al did ok in that regard. Good for NBC recognizing him. I also wonder if they realized how ridiculous they looked in casting Bob Costas adrift and didn’t want the same kind of (deservedly) bad publicity.