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Al Michaels
Al Michaels (37443740985).jpg
Michaels at FedExField in September 2017
Born
Alan Richard Michaels

(1944-11-12) November 12, 1944 (age 79)
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
Alma mater Arizona State University
Occupation Sports commentator
Years active 1964–present
Spouse(s)
Linda Anne Stamaton
(m. 1966)
Children 2
Sports commentary career
Genre(s) Play-by-play
Sports

Alan Richard Michaels (born November 12, 1944) is an American television play-by-play sportscaster for Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video and in an emeritus role for NBC Sports. He has worked on network sports television since 1971, with his most recent work being with NBC Sports after nearly three decades (1976–2006) with ABC Sports. Michaels is known for his many years calling play-by-play of National Football League (NFL) games, including ABC Monday Night Football from 1986 to 2005 and NBC Sunday Night Football from 2006 to 2021. He is also known for famous calls in other sports, including the Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Winter Olympics and the earthquake-interrupted Game 3 of the 1989 World Series.

Early life and education

Michaels was born to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, to Jay Leonard Michaels and Lila Roginsky/Ross. He grew up as a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. In 1958, Michaels' family moved to Los Angeles, the same year the Dodgers left Brooklyn. He graduated from Alexander Hamilton High School in 1962. Michaels attended Arizona State University, where he majored in radio and television and minored in journalism. He worked as a sports writer for ASU's independent student newspaper, The State Press, and called Sun Devils football, basketball, and baseball games for the campus radio station. He also is a member of Sigma Nu fraternity.

Early career

Michaels's first job in television was with Chuck Barris Productions, choosing women to appear on The Dating Game. His first sportscasting job came in 1967, when he was hired to do public relations for the Los Angeles Lakers and serve as a color commentator on the team's radio broadcasts alongside veteran play-by-play announcer Chick Hearn. However, he was terminated after appearing on just four games due to Chick Hearn’s displeasure on working with someone so young.

He resumed his broadcasting career in 1968 after moving to Honolulu, where he worked as a sports anchor for KHVH-TV (now KITV) and called play-by-play for the Hawaii Islanders baseball team in the Pacific Coast League as well as the University of Hawaii's football and basketball teams and local high school football games. He was named Hawaii's ‘Sportscaster of the Year’ in 1969. In 1970, Michaels appeared as attorney Dave Bronstein in an episode of Hawaii Five-O called "Run, Johnny, Run" (Air date: January 14, 1970); the episode also featured a young Christopher Walken.

In 1971, Michaels moved to Cincinnati, where he became the radio play-by-play announcer for the Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball. In 1972, after the Reds won the National League Championship Series and advanced to the World Series, he helped to cover the Fall Classic for NBC Sports. He also was the network's play-by-play man for the hockey coverage at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan.

In 1973, after NBC announcer Bill Enis died from a heart attack at the age of 39 two days before he was to call the regular-season NFL finale between the Houston Oilers and Cincinnati Bengals, Michaels was brought in to replace Enis in the booth with Dave Kocourek.

In 1974, he left the Reds for a similar position with the San Francisco Giants and also covered basketball for UCLA, replacing Dick Enberg on the Bruins' tape delayed telecasts of their home games, during a period when UCLA was in the midst of an 88-game winning streak. He left NBC that year and announced regional NFL games for CBS Sports in 1975. In 1976 he joined ABC Sports part-time to call the network's backup Monday Night Baseball games. That year, he called two no-hitters: by the Pirates' John Candelaria vs. Los Angeles on August 9 (for ABC) and the Giants' John Montefusco at Atlanta on September 29, 1976 (for Giants radio).

ABC Sports (1977–2006)

In January 1977, Michaels signed with ABC Sports on a full-time basis. In 1983, he became the network's lead baseball announcer, replacing Keith Jackson. Up until that point, Michaels and Jackson would split play–by–play duties for ABC's coverage of the World Series beginning in 1979, with Michaels assigned to call the games from the National League park and Jackson calling games from the American League park.

Over the next three decades, Michaels covered a wide variety of sports for ABC, including Major League Baseball, college football (working alongside the likes of Frank Broyles, Lee Grosscup, and Ara Parseghian from 1977–1985 and later, his Monday Night Football colleagues Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf for the Sugar Bowl from 1989–1992), college basketball (normally teaming with Joe B. Hall from 1987–1989), the Indianapolis 500, ice hockey, track and field events, horse racing (including the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes from 1986 to 2000), golf, boxing (such as the 1985 Marvin Hagler/Thomas Hearns fight), figure skating (working alongside Dick Button and Peggy Fleming), road cycling (Michaels in particular, provided commentary for those events at the 1984 Summer Olympics with Greg LeMond and Eric Heiden), and many events of the Olympic Games as well as the Olympic trials.

Other prominent events that Michaels covered for ABC included serving as the studio host for the Stanley Cup Finals from 2000–2002. Also, he served as host for the yearly Tiger Woods Monday night specials that aired in July or August.

Episodes of Wide World of Sports featuring Michaels early in his ABC career have been featured at least two occasions on the ESPN Classic comedy series Cheap Seats.

The Miracle on Ice

Two of Michaels's more famous broadcasts were of the 1980 Winter Olympics ice hockey medal round match between the United States and the Soviet Union, and the attempted third game of the 1989 World Series.

In 1980, an unheralded group of college ice hockey players from the United States won the gold medal at the Olympic Winter Games. The medal round match on February 22—which, contrary to popular belief, did not yet assure the team of the gold medal—was of particular interest, as it was played against a heavily favored professional squad from the Soviet Union, and was in front of an incredibly excited pro-American crowd in Lake Placid, New York. Michaels's memorable broadcast of this game, including his interjection—"Do you believe in miracles? YES!"—as time expired on the 4–3 U.S. victory, earned the game the media nickname of The Miracle on Ice.

Most assume that the game was broadcast live (indeed, CTV, which held Canadian rights to the game, aired it live); but in reality, the game started at 5:05 pm Eastern Standard Time and ABC decided against pre-empting local and network news (on the East Coast) to carry the game live. Instead, most of it—including the entire third period—was broadcast within the regularly scheduled, prime-time telecast from 8:30 to 11 pm Eastern time (and on a six-and-a-half-hour delay on the West Coast from 8:30 to 11 pm Pacific Standard Time). Despite being on tape, the game was one of the highest-rated programs of the 1979–80 television season and remains the most-watched ice hockey game in the history of American television.

Michaels, along with broadcasting partner Ken Dryden, recreated their Olympic commentary in the 2004 movie Miracle. Although Michaels and Dryden recreated the bulk of their commentary for the film, the closing seconds of the game against the Soviet Union used the original ABC Sports commentary from 1980. Gavin O'Connor, the director of Miracle, decided to use the last 10 seconds of Michaels's original "Do you believe in miracles? YES!" call in the film because he felt he couldn't ask him to recreate the emotion he experienced at that moment. Thus they cleaned up the recording to make the transition to the authentic call as seamless as possible.

Michaels later recalled, "When I look back, obviously Lake Placid would be the highlight of my career. I can't think of anything that would ever top it. I can't dream up a scenario."

Michaels was only on this particular assignment because he had done one hockey game, eight years prior. The game in question was the gold medal game (the Soviet Union vs. Czechoslovakia) of the 1972 Winter Olympics (on NBC) in Sapporo, Japan. Other announcers on the ABC Sports roster such as Keith Jackson, Frank Gifford, and Howard Cosell had never done a hockey game before. Michaels recalled this during a Real Sports interview in January 2009. Michaels also apparently beat out WABC-AM and New York Islanders commentator George Michael for the assignment.

Two days later, Michaels would broadcast the gold medal game, in which the U.S. defeated Finland, closing the game out by declaring "This impossible dream comes true!"

Al Michaels continued serving as ABC's lead play-by-play announcer for their ice hockey coverage for their next two Winter Olympics, both with Dryden, the lead color commentator. In 1984 from Sarajevo, Mike Eruzione, who was the captain of the gold medal-winning United States ice hockey team from 1980, primarily worked with Don Chevrier. For ABC's final Winter Olympics four years later, Eruzione was this time, paired with Jiggs McDonald.

Michaels along with John Davidson would later call Games 1 and 4 of the Calgary–Los Angeles Stanley Cup playoff series in 1993 for ABC.

Move from ABC to NBC

ABC loses NFL rights

In 2003, Michaels was quoted as saying, "ABC Sports has been my professional home for the last 26 years, and I am delighted that will continue to be for several more..." after signing a long-term contract extension.

In 2005, it was announced that Monday Night Football would be moving from ABC to ESPN beginning with the 2006 season, and partner John Madden announced he would be joining NBC Sports, which had acquired the rights to Sunday Night Football games. Despite speculation that Michaels might be joining NBC as well, Michaels stated that he would continue as the MNF play-by-play announcer, stating, "I feel like I'm a creature of Monday night. I'm home and I'm staying home." Plans were for Michaels to be teamed with Joe Theismann (who would be coming over from Sunday Night Football) on the Monday night telecasts.

At the time, then-ABC Television President Alex Wallau said, "For 26 years Al has played a pivotal role here at ABC Sports, and for 17 of those years he's been the face and voice synonymous with television's most successful sports franchise, Monday Night Football... It's Al's outstanding play-by-play coverage, coupled with his breadth of knowledge, experience and enthusiasm, that keep MNF fans invigorated, excited and coming back for more." also, "Al Michaels has been invaluable to the Network and we are thrilled to have him remain in our family. [...] Al is the consummate professional and makes everyone around him better" said then-ABC Sports President Howard Katz; however, in the weeks leading up to Super Bowl XL, it was widely speculated that Michaels was attempting to get out of his contract with ESPN to join Madden at NBC. By this time, it was clear that NBC's Sunday Night Football would be the NFL's premier prime-time package, with ESPN's Monday Night Football relegated to secondary match-ups similar to that network's previous Sunday night telecasts. Michaels added fuel to the fire by refusing to state his future plans, and he couldn't "respond to rumors ... because that would become a distraction."

On February 8, 2006, ESPN announced that its Monday Night Football team would consist of Mike Tirico on play-by-play, with Theismann and Tony Kornheiser as analysts. ESPN explicitly stated that Michaels would not return to either Monday Night Football broadcasts or ABC's NBA broadcasts (on which Michaels had been lead NBA play-by-play man).

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit "trade"

On February 9, 2006, NBC confirmed that Michaels would be joining Madden at the network to broadcast football on Sunday nights, thus ending Michaels's 20-year run on Monday Night Football and almost 30 years of service with ABC. In exchange for letting Michaels out of his contract with ABC and ESPN, NBCUniversal sold ESPN cable rights to Friday coverage of the next four Ryder Cups, granted ESPN increased usage of Olympic highlights, and sold to parent company Disney the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a cartoon character developed by Walt Disney himself (which he lost in 1928) but previously owned by Universal Pictures (now NBCUniversal). NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol explained, "We earn nothing from those rights; they've had no value in the United States."

Michaels had a bemused take on the "trade." After it was noted to Michaels that the Kansas City Chiefs gave the New York Jets a draft pick as compensation for releasing coach Herman Edwards from his contract, Michaels stated, "Oswald is definitely worth more than a fourth-round draft choice. I'm going to be a trivia answer someday." In an article with the magazine Game Informer, Warren Spector, a designer on the game Epic Mickey, stated that Disney CEO Bob Iger wanted Oswald to be in the game so badly, he made this trade to get the rights of the character back.

NBC Sports (2006–present)

Sunday Night Football

Michaels and Madden began their new NBC tenure on August 6, 2006, with the network's telecast of the preseason Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, with their regular-season debut on September 7. Michaels called Sunday Night Football with John Madden from August 6, 2006 – April 15, 2009. On April 16, 2009, Cris Collinsworth made an agreement with NBC to join Michaels, replacing Madden for Sunday Night Football. On February 1, 2009, Michaels called Super Bowl XLIII, his first Super Bowl telecast for NBC and seventh overall as a play-by-play announcer. Michaels is the third man to ever do play-by-play for an NBC broadcast of a Super Bowl, following the footsteps of Curt Gowdy and Dick Enberg. Michaels also called Super Bowl XLVI on February 5, 2012, Super Bowl XLIX on February 1, 2015, Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, and Super Bowl LVI on February 13, 2022, and in doing so, he tied Pat Summerall for the most Super Bowls called by a play-by-play announcer, though Summerall still holds the record for the most Super Bowls announced at 16, having also worked Super Bowl I as a sideline reporter and Super Bowls II, IV, VI, and VIII as a color commentator.

Michaels usually ate his dinner while doing play-by-play commentary during a typical broadcast of Sunday Night Football. Michaels would have cookies and grapes during the first half and a light dinner during the second half, having his bites during commercial breaks.

On May 24, 2022, NBC announced that despite his official departure from Sunday Night Football following the 2021 season, Michaels would still call at least one NFL playoff game for NBC under an "emeritus" role.

NBC Olympic Daytime host

In March 2009, it was announced that Michaels would be serving as the daytime host for NBC's coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was Michaels's first involvement in an Olympic telecast since he called ice hockey at the 1988 Calgary Games for ABC, as well as his first non-NFL event for NBC. NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol said that Michaels had previously expressed an interest in contributing to the network's Olympics coverage. Michaels also co-hosted NBC's coverage of the Closing Ceremony (with Bob Costas). Michaels also served as daytime co-host (with Dan Patrick) for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, and co-hosted the Closing Ceremony (with Costas and Ryan Seacrest). For the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Michaels served as weekday host on NBCSN and weekend daytime host on NBC. He returned to host daytime coverage for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

According to Michaels, ABC was in the running to purchase the broadcasting rights for the 1996 Summer Games from Atlanta. As a provision in his contract renewal with ABC back in 1992, in the event that ABC were to broadcast the Olympics again, Michaels would get to become the prime time anchor while Jim McKay would instead play an emeritus role. Ultimately though, NBC bought the rights to the Atlanta Games for $456 million, edging out ABC by $6 million.

Premier Boxing Champions

In January 2015, NBC announced that Michaels would be at ringside along with Marv Albert and Sugar Ray Leonard for the PBC on NBC Saturday night bouts. In partnership with Haymon Boxing, NBC would televise 20 PBC on NBC events, including five shown in prime time on Saturday nights.

MLB Network (2011)

On July 8, 2011, Michaels teamed up with Bob Costas (with the two announcers alternating between play-by-play and color commentary) to call a game between the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants on MLB Network. It was Michaels's first appearance on a baseball telecast since August 6, 2003 (when he served as a guest commentator on an ESPN game, as previously mentioned) and his first as a primary announcer since Game 5 of the 1995 World Series on ABC. (Michaels had called Games 1, 4 and 5 of that series with Jim Palmer and Tim McCarver, while Costas called Games 2, 3 and 6 with Joe Morgan and Bob Uecker for NBC.) Michaels and Costas also made appearances on SportsNet New York and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area during the game's middle innings, since the MLB Network broadcast was blacked out in the Mets' and Giants' respective home markets.

Thursday Night Football (2016, 2022–present)

Michaels first called Thursday Night Football in 2016, as part of a deal which would see NBC produce several Thursday night games for broadcast on NFL Network with simulcasts on selected games on NBC. The following year, NBC confirmed that Mike Tirico would take over as the voice of NBC-produced Thursday night games.

On March 23, 2022, the NFL and Amazon announced that Michaels would become the full-time play-by-play announcer for Thursday Night Football, alongside Kirk Herbstreit, for the first year of the package airing exclusively on Amazon Prime Video and Twitch.

Throughout his tenure as the play-by-play announcer for Amazon Prime, viewers have repeatedly criticized Michaels for a perceived lack of enthusiasm during games. When asked about his experience calling Thursday night games, Michaels hinted at the suboptimal quality of the games and said, "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."

Awards and honors

Sportscasting

  • Five-time Sports Emmy Award winner – Outstanding Sports Personality, Play-by-Play
  • Three-time NSMA National Sportscaster of the Year
  • Sportscaster of the Year – American Sportscasters Association (ASA)
  • Sportscaster of the Year – Washington Journalism Review
  • ASA Top 50 Sportscasters of All Time.
  • Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism (2002).
  • Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters "Art Gilmore Career Achievement Award" June 16, 2017

Halls of Fame

State/local

  • Football stadium at Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles (Michaels's alma mater) named Al Michaels Field.

Personal life

Michaels is the eldest child of Jay and Lila Michaels. Michaels has a younger brother, David Michaels, and a younger sister, Susan.

Al Michaels currently resides in Los Angeles. He was 21 years old when he married his wife Linda on August 27, 1966. Al and Linda have two children together, Jennifer and Steven. Steven Michaels serves as president and CEO of independent film company Asylum Entertainment in Los Angeles. Michaels is also a Los Angeles Kings season ticket holder.

Al's younger brother David is a television producer. David Michaels has produced such programs as NBC's coverage of the Olympic Games, Triple Crown, and Fox Sports Net's Beyond the Glory series.

..... He was released after about five hours. He eventually pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of reckless driving and was sentenced to 80 hours of community service plus probation.

In 2014, Michaels released his autobiography titled You Can't Make This Up: Memories and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television, which reached The New York Times Best Seller list for nonfiction.

Michaels has claimed that he has never knowingly eaten a vegetable in his lifetime.

Notable broadcasts

Michaels was the play-by-play announcer for all notable events unless otherwise noted.

  • 1972 Winter Olympics men's ice hockey
  • 1972 National League Championship Series
  • 1972 World Series
  • 1977 NAPA National 500
  • 1978 Atlanta 500
  • 1979 Gabriel 400
  • 1979 World Series (Games 3–5)
  • 1980 Atlanta 500
  • 1980 Winter Olympics men's ice hockey ("Miracle on Ice")
  • 1981 World Series (Games 3–5)
  • 1982 Coca-Cola 500
  • 1982 CRC Chemicals Rebel 500
  • 1983 World Series
  • 1984 Winter Olympics men's ice hockey
  • Super Bowl XIX (1985, co-host with Jim Lampley)
  • 1984 Summer Olympics athletics and road bicycle racing
  • 1985 World Series
  • 112th Kentucky Derby (1986, host)
  • 111th Preakness Stakes (1986, host)
  • 123rd Belmont Stakes (1986, host)
  • 1986 American League Championship Series
  • 113th Kentucky Derby (1987, host)
  • 112th Preakness Stakes (1987, host)
  • 124th Belmont Stakes (1987, host)
  • 1987 World Series
  • Super Bowl XXII (1988)
  • 1988 Winter Olympics men's ice hockey
  • 114th Kentucky Derby (1988, host)
  • 113th Preakness Stakes (1988, host)
  • 125th Belmont Stakes (1988, host)
  • 1988 NLCS
  • 1989 Sugar Bowl
  • 115th Kentucky Derby (1989, host)
  • 114th Preakness Stakes (1989, host)
  • 126th Belmont Stakes (1989, host)
  • 1989 World Series
  • 1990 Sugar Bowl
  • 116th Kentucky Derby (1990, host)
  • 115th Preakness Stakes (1990, host)
  • 127th Belmont Stakes (1990, host)
  • 1991 Sugar Bowl
  • Super Bowl XXV (1991)
  • 117th Kentucky Derby (1991, host)
  • 116th Preakness Stakes (1991, host)
  • 128th Belmont Stakes (1991, host)
  • 1992 Sugar Bowl
  • 118th Kentucky Derby (1992, host)
  • 117th Preakness Stakes (1992, host)
  • 129th Belmont Stakes (1992, host)
  • 119th Kentucky Derby (1993, host)
  • 118th Preakness Stakes (1993, host)
  • 1993 Stanley Cup Finals (host)
  • 130th Belmont Stakes (1993, host)
  • 120th Kentucky Derby (1994, host)
  • 119th Preakness Stakes (1994, host)
  • 131st Belmont Stakes (1994, host)
  • Super Bowl XXIX (1995)
  • 121st Kentucky Derby (1995, host)
  • 120th Preakness Stakes (1995, host)
  • 132nd Belmont Stakes (1995, host)
  • 1995 World Series (Games 1, 4–5)
  • 122nd Kentucky Derby (1996, host)
  • 121st Preakness Stakes (1996, host)
  • 133rd Belmont Stakes (1996, host)
  • 123rd Kentucky Derby (1997, host)
  • 122nd Preakness Stakes (1997, host)
  • 134th Belmont Stakes (1997, host)
  • 124th Kentucky Derby (1998, host)
  • 123rd Preakness Stakes (1998, host)
  • 135th Belmont Stakes (1998, host)
  • 125th Kentucky Derby (1999, host)
  • 124th Preakness Stakes (1999, Host)
  • 1999 Indianapolis 500 (host)
  • 136th Belmont Stakes (1999, host)
  • Super Bowl XXXIV (2000)
  • 126th Kentucky Derby (2000, host)
  • 125th Preakness Stakes (2000, host)
  • 2000 Indianapolis 500 (host)
  • 2000 Stanley Cup Finals (host)
  • 137th Belmont Stakes (2000, host)
  • 2001 Indianapolis 500 (host)
  • 2001 Stanley Cup Finals (host)
  • 2002 Stanley Cup Finals (host)
  • Super Bowl XXXVII (2003)
  • NBA on Christmas Day 2004: Los Angeles Lakers vs Miami Heat
  • 2004 NBA Finals
  • NBA on Christmas Day 2005: Los Angeles Lakers vs Miami Heat
  • 2005 NBA Finals
  • Super Bowl XL (2006; last Super Bowl and NFL telecast for ABC)
  • Super Bowl XLIII (2009; last telecast paired with color commentator John Madden)
  • 2010 Winter Olympics (daytime host and co-host of closing ceremony)
  • The "Butt Fumble" November 22, 2012
  • Super Bowl XLVI (2012)
  • 2012 Summer Olympics (daytime host and co-host of closing ceremony)
  • 2014 Winter Olympics (weekday host for NBCSN, weekend daytime host for NBC and co-host for closing ceremony)
  • Super Bowl XLIX (2015)
  • 2016 Summer Olympics (daytime co-host)
  • Super Bowl LII (2018)
  • Super Bowl LVI (2022)

Career timeline

  • 1968–1970: Hawaii Islanders Play-by-play
  • 1971–1973: Cincinnati Reds Radio Play-by-play
  • 1971–1974: NFL on NBC Play-by-play
  • 1972 and 1980–1988: Winter Olympics Hockey Play-by-play (NBC 1972, ABC 1980–1988)
  • 1973–1975: UCLA Basketball TV Play-by-play
  • 1974–1976: San Francisco Giants TV & Radio Play-by-play
  • 1975: NFL on CBS Play-by-play
  • 1976–1989, 1994–1995: Major League Baseball on ABC Play-by-play (Lead Play-by-play from 1983 to 1989 and 1994 to 1995)
  • 1977–1985: College Football on ABC Play-by-play
  • 1986–2005: ABC Monday Night Football Play-by-play
  • 1986–2000: Kentucky Derby Host (ABC)
  • 1986–2000: Preakness Stakes Host (ABC)
  • 1986–2000: Belmont Stakes Host (ABC)
  • 1987–1989: College Basketball on ABC Play-by-play
  • 1989–1992: Sugar Bowl Play-by-play (ABC)
  • 2000–2002: NHL on ABC Stanley Cup Finals host
  • 2003–2005: NBA on ABC Play-by-play
  • 2006–2021: NBC Sunday Night Football Play-by-play
  • 2015: PBC on NBC Host
  • 2016: Thursday Night Football on NBC/NFL Network Play-by-play
  • 2022–present: Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video Play-by-play
  • 2022–present: NBC Sports Emeritus role

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