Leading up to what could be his final Super Bowl telecast in a long, accomplished broadcast career, Al Michaels has appeared on a variety of media outlets to look back at his years of calling The Big Game for ABC and NBC.
On Tuesday, that “farewell tour,” if that’s what to call it, stopped at The Howard Stern Show. Anyone who’s listened to Stern over the decades or appeared for an interview knows that the infamous radio personality could touch on any topic and take the conversation in many different directions. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise when Stern put Michaels on the spot.
First, Stern voiced his disbelief that NBC could possibly let Michaels go when his contract expires after Super Bowl LVI. The expectation throughout the sports media industry is that the veteran broadcaster will move to Amazon to call play-by-play for Thursday Night Football.
“Really? NBC is gonna let you walk out the door?” Stern said to Michaels (via Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina). “I think it’s a big f—ing error. It’s just like New England letting Brady go. Dude, I don’t get it. I think I’m in shock. This is bulls—. Everyone loves you. You’re doing great. What are they changing things up for? You got the No. 1 show.”
As could be expected, Michaels didn’t take the opportunity to criticize NBC. He didn’t feel “betrayed,” as Stern speculated, and went on to explain the thinking.
“I feel that the decision was made predicated on making sure there was a succession plan in place,” said Michaels.
Looking back, it’s entirely possible this is a plan Michaels thought was a good idea until getting to this point and realizing he still had plenty left as a broadcaster and might want to continue at NBC.
But if Michaels thought he was off the hook after evading Stern’s attempts to goad him into ripping his NBC bosses, the conversation eventually moved to another topic: the COVID-19 vaccine. With a worldwide audience of 100 million, Stern implored Michaels to encourage viewers to get vaccinated.
“Do you ever feel, and I know with sports you can’t be controversial,” said Stern. “No one’s there to hear your opinion; I get all that. But Al, please — when you’re on there and you got 100 million people, tell them to get vaccinated for Christ’s sake, you know what I mean?”
Michaels didn’t take the bait there, either.
“You’re right when people tune in to watch the game, they want to watch the game,” Michaels said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on in sports around the game.”
We don’t know what Michaels’ stance is on getting vaccinated and aren’t likely to find out since it’s such an inflammatory topic for some viewers. However, Michaels did make his irritation over having to wear a mask on the air apparent during a 2020 Eagles-49ers broadcast. A Santa Clara county mandate required it.
“We’re good boys, though,” Michaels said during the NBC telecast. “We’re going to get lollipops at the end of the game tonight.” He later added that he’d ditch the mask as soon as Sunday Night Football signed off.
Ian Casselberry is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously written and edited for Awful Announcing, The Comeback, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. You can find him on Twitter @iancass or reach him by email at email@example.com.
Parkins & Spiegel Wonder If Trent Dilfer Will Still Appear On Their Show After Taking UAB Job
“I will just say that his status with the show and the station is uncertain.”
Former ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer has been hired as the new head coach at UAB. However, Danny Parkins and Matt Spiegel wondered if that meant Dilfer would no longer be making his weekly appearances on Parkins & Spiegel on 670 The Score.
“Our guy is no longer gonna do a radio show out of Chicago?” Parkins joked, referencing an incident last month where Dilfer failed to say “Parkins & Spiegel“ during an appearance on The Herd with Colin Cowherd.
“I don’t know that that’s the case,” Spiegel replied.
“We don’t know that yet,” producer Shane Riordan said. “We have only shared a couple of text message — Trent and I — this morning and I will just say that his status with the show and the station is uncertain.”
Later in the show, Parkins and Spiegel jokingly wondered what jobs they could have on UAB’s staff, with Parkins balking at being a sports information director. He did say he would welcome being the offensive player caller, but believed that job might fall under the purview of Dilfer.
Mike Milbury: Jack Edwards Is ‘Awkward’ and ‘A Different Breed’
“Like him or love him, I’m not gonna judge him. As a guy that’s been cancelled, I have no right anymore.”
Boston Bruins television play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards has come under fire for recent comments he made about Tampa Bay Lightning forward Pat Maroon and his weight. In turn, Maroon donated money in Edwards’ name to a mental health organization. On The Greg Hill Show Thursday, former NHL on NBC analyst Mike Milbury both slammed and defended Edwards.
“Jack Edwards. Who’s Jack Edwards? He went through all of junior high school being picked on and bullied,” Milbury said. “Now he’s trying to get even. Wouldn’t you want to smack that guy, Wiggy? Skinny, scrawny, mouthy son of a bitch.”
“Jack is screaming at the TV all the time,” he continued. “I gotta turn it down half the time.”
When asked by Courtney Cox if it was appropriate for Edwards to make comments about Maroon’s weight, noting that the comments were “awkward”, Milbury said Edwards is a divisive presence.
“Jack is awkward. I think half of Boston hates him and half of Boston loves him. He certainly loves the Bruins and is passionate about it but he’s a different breed of cat. Like him or love him, I’m not gonna judge him. As a guy that’s been cancelled, I have no right anymore.”
Milbury was “cancelled” after saying NHL players in the league’s playoff “bubble” weren’t being distracted by their wives and girlfriends being present. He was dropped by the NHL on NBC after the comments and has not resurfaced on a major network.
The comments and questions to Milbury came after Cox and co-host Jermaine Wiggins disagreed about whether Edwards’ comments were warranted.
Wiggins said he “thought hockey players were supposed to be tough”, adding “he’s got a few extra LBs. It’s a joke.”
Cox countered by saying “it’s not a joke. No one should be talking about it. Jack Edwards went on for like five minutes about it. It wasn’t funny.”
Hill said when Wiggins was in the NFL, nobody cared what television broadcasters said about them. Cox argued by saying “in your day, nobody talked to a therapist, either”.
Jeremy White: Ryan Fitzpatrick Will Be Shirtless On Amazon Prime Video Tonight
“They start the broadcast, and Fitz is seated at the table, shirtless.”
Thursday Night Football will feature the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots. Last year during the dead of winter, Amazon Prime Video analyst Ryan Fitzpatrick — then just a retired player — was seen in the Buffalo crowd shirtless. WGR morning host Jeremy White believes you’ll see that scene recreated during tonight’s broadcast.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they have Fitz on there talking about his experience in that game, being there shirtless,” White said. “Fitz is on the studio panel with Richard Sherman, Tony Gonzalez, and Andrew Whitworth. Best broadcast in the league. If you haven’t had the chance to see an Amazon Prime game, you get it on channel 7 tonight. I think it is the best broadcast in the league and it’s because the players are fresh out of the league. It’s not constant conversations about how you gotta be careful on fourth down and run the ball.”
“No one on there is afraid to say anything,” Joe DiBiase said, filling in for Howard Simon. “Al Michaels doesn’t feel afraid to say anything, by the way. He criticizes the game almost every week. He might be like ‘Oh thank god, the Bills. Just get me away from the Commanders and the Bears. I’m sick of 13-10.’ The happiest person might be Al Michaels.”
White later said he received a text asking what the odds were that Fitz would be shirtless on the studio set. “They start the broadcast, and Fitz is seated at the table, shirtless,” White said, adding if Adam Schefter was seen shirtless earlier this season during a pregame show then it’s almost a certainty Fitzpatrick will do the same.