Fri Feb 26 11:47pm EST
The network had a phone interview with someone claiming to be the Buffalo Sabres goalie on Friday afternoon after the U.S. victory over Finland in the Olympic hockey tournament semifinals.
Fake Miller vowed the USA would win gold. This is something the guarded, spotlight shy real Ryan Miller would, of course, never do. As he would tell MSNBC's Willie Geist during an actual interview later, Miller heard from friends and NHL personnel "asking if I'd become that much different and that cocky because of this."
From Media Bistro, a snippet of Geist's apology interview with Miller Friday night, which actually interrupted an episode of "Hardball."
Geist: First and foremost, Ryan, please accept our apology. It's a mistake that never should have happened. We misrepresented your name. We regret it deeply and I personally feel terrible about it.
Miller: No problem. I appreciate a good prank. But I do try to keep my reputation intact. ... I just want to clear up I [wouldn't be] guaranteeing a gold medal. I look forward to a great game to compete for a gold medal, though.
Good to see ESPN isn't alone in the athlete phone prank department. Huffington Post has been all over this story, first capturing video of the full apology from MSNBC and Willie Geist and then offering this video of the prank and the apology, from Mediaite:
In case the video gets NBC'd, the following is a transcript from the prank call by "Ryan Miller."
The prank call:
GEIST: Joining us on the phone right now is the goaltender for Team USA and one of the stars for these Games, Ryan Miller. Ryan, good to talk to you this afternoon.
"MILLER": (Ed. Note: In an voice that sounds everything like a cast member from "Jersey Shore" and pretty much nothing like Miller's, outside of being that of a male.) Hey what's up man how you guys doin'?
GEIST: We're doin' all right. Pretty easy victory for you guys this afternoon. Tell us about the game.
"MILLER": Yeah, well, we got out to a pretty quick lead, and it made it easier on our defense to sit back and play more conservatively than they normally would. And, uh, we just played an all-around solid game. We've been doin' it for the past few games and we hope to continue it in the next round.
GEIST: Ryan, there was so much talk coming into this tournament about Canada and Russia as the two favorites, and you guys flew below the radar, despite the fact that you have a bunch of stars and a bunch of great NHL players. Have you guys sort of relished that role of being underdog, if you can call the United States an underdog?
"MILLER": Well, we kinda knew comin' in that Canada and Russia would be a lot more overrated than, than their level really should have been, and that we would kinda come in under the radar. We thought we had a real big competitive advantage with our international experience. And the Canadian game we were a little bit more worried about because of the homefield, uh, because of the home ice advantage. But against Russia we felt very confident about an easy win.
(Ed. Note: Please realize that at this point "Miller" has called both Russia and Canada overrated, used the term "homefield" as a professional hockey player and referred to a game against Russia that the United States never played in. We continue ...)
GEIST: Well, you didn't look too intimidated against Canada on Sunday night in that huge 5-3 upset in which you made 42 saves facing 45 shots and stopping all but three of them. You were unconscious. Tell us about it.
"MILLER": Yeah, uh, I'm sorry; I just mentioned Russia, and I meant Finland, from today's game. In the game against Canada, everything just clicked sometimes, and you just get into that zone and when you see the puck (Ed. Note: New York/New Jersey-ese, "da puck") it looks like it's just in slow motion. Everything just seemed very clear that game. I was able to put together a nice win and our offense scored some nice goal there and we had a good all-around coaching game too.
GEIST: I'd say it was more than a nice win, Ryan. It was a dominant performance by you. So now we've got Canada and Slovakia tonight. As we've been saying today, if Slovakia won that game, it would be a huge upset. Do you find yourself already looking ahead to a rematch with Canada?
"MILLER": Yeah, we really don't think Slovakia has much of a chance in the game tonight, and Canada should have a pretty easy victory. So we're kinda already watching film on Canada from our last victory. Kinda prepare for the gold medal game.
GEIST: And can you handicap that for us. What kind of environment that will be? It'll be one of the biggest events in the history of this country here in Canada.
"MILLER": Yeah, it's gonna be crazy. They said over 70 percent of the country watched the last game against us. It'll probably be more for a gold medal game. Uh, but once again, it should be the same outcome. We have them pretty well matched, you know, from a physicality standpoint we really overmatched them in that last game. We're feeling very confident and we think we should, you know, kinda, bring the gold back home to the good USA.
GEIST: Should be the same outcome ... we love the confidence, we're rooting for you, good luck on Sunday going for that gold medal. Ryan Miller, thanks for being with us.
"MILLER": Thanks guys, and I just wanna say that we're almost as confident to guarantee victory in the gold medal game.
GEIST: Wow, I like it. Ryan Miller almost guaranteeing victory. I love it.
Love can be so, so fleeting, Willie.