Some may regard it as the stuff of miracles, but it was always the plan.
Legendary broadcaster Al Michaels spent the 2022 season making the new age of streaming feel as familiar and comfortable as possible to those accustomed to watching sports on TV. With the Amazon slate over and NBC broadcasting a pair of wild-card round games, Al Michaels will be back in the booth tonight, for the Chargers-Jaguars game in Jacksonville.
Via the New York Post, Michaels recently spoke with Richard Deitsch of TheAthletic.com regarding the first year of Al’s Amazon adventure.
Although the headline to the Post article paints with too broad of a brush (“Al Michaels rips ‘dreadful’ Thursday night Amazon games: ‘I can’t sell a used car'”), Michaels did indeed offer pointed remarks regarding one specific Thursday night game that prompted him to make pointed remarks in real time.
“I think I’m to the point in my life and career, having watched sports since I was six years old, I feel what the crowd feels,” Michaels told Deitsch, via the Post. “The Denver-Indianapolis game [in] Week 4 was a dreadful game. No other way to describe it. No touchdowns.
“In fact, at one point during the game, I said to [analyst] Kirk [Herbstreit], ‘Is it possible this game could be so bad that it’s actually good?’ He’d never heard that from a partner and went, ‘No!’”
The best broadcasters understand what the audience is thinking and have the guts to say it. That’s what Al did, all year long.
“We’re going to overtime and there’s a shot of maybe a thousand people walking out of the stadium,” Michaels said. “Then an overhead shot of people going to the parking lot. Kirk said, ‘I can’t believe it’s overtime and they are leaving.’ I said they’d seen enough. Sometimes you just have to beat the traffic. So, look, was that snarky? I guess, in a way. But you can’t tell me that didn’t reflect the feelings of a lot of people, probably the majority of people watching that game. . . . A lot of people said, ‘Al’s bored, Al’s pissed off that he’s doing this.’ Not the case. Monday nights, Sunday night, I did things like this. Maybe not to that degree, but I try to echo the feelings of what the fan feels because I’m a fan.”
Millions continue to be fans of Al Michaels. Even though it’s been known that Al will be back for tonight’s game, social media undoubtedly will be abuzz with his Saturday night return to NBC, partnered for the first time with Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy. (This also raises the question of whether there will be a first-ever “Dungy Slide.”)
Throughout the 2022 season, Amazon wisely embraced Al’s candor, even for .
“From the Amazon people, nothing but support,” Michaels told Deitsch. “I think they understood what this was. We’re making the most of it. I mean, you just can’t oversell something. Do you want me to sell you a 20-year-old Mazda? That’s what you’re asking me to do. I can’t sell you a used car. . . . I’ve kind of gone down that road a little bit in games that have been bad in the past. But this game was horrifically bad. What were you supposed to do at that point? And away I went.”
Tonight, away he’ll go. Hopefully, Chargers-Jaguars will be more entertaining than Colts-Broncos was. If it isn’t, Al will be willing to say what everyone else is thinking.