Michaels playing golf in July 2008
Alan Richard Michaels
November 12, 1944
Brooklyn, New York
|Spouse(s)||Linda Anne Stamaton (m. 1966)|
Jennifer Michaels Cohn
|Parent(s)||James and Lila Michaels|
Alan Richard "Al" Michaels (born November 12, 1944) is an American television sportscaster.
Now employed by NBC Sports after nearly three decades (1977–2006) with ABC Sports, Michaels is perhaps best known for his many years calling play-by-play of National Football League games, including nearly two decades with Monday Night Football. 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 1
- Early career 1.1
ABC Sports (1977–2006) 2
- The Miracle on Ice 2.1
Memorable baseball moments 2.2
- 1972 National League Championship Series 2.2.1
- 1985 World Series 2.2.2
- 1986 American League Championship Series 2.2.3
- 1989 World Series 2.2.4
- Monday Night Football 2.3
- NBA on ABC 2.4
- Leaving ABC for NBC 2.5
NBC Sports (2006–present) 3
- "Traded" to NBC for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit 3.1
- NBC Olympic Daytime host 3.2
- Premier Boxing Champions 3.3
- MLB Network (2011) 4
- Awards and honors 5
- Personal life 6
- In popular culture 7
Notable broadcasts 8
- Career timeline 8.1
- Broadcast partners 8.2
- See also 9
- References and notes 10
Early life and education
Michaels was born to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, to James Samuel Michaels and Lila Roginsky/Ross. He grew up as a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. Coincidentally, at the time the Dodgers left Brooklyn, Michaels' family also moved to Los Angeles in 1958. Michaels attended Alexander Hamilton High School in L.A., with Joel Siegel, Michele Lee and Michelle Phillips, and was a baseball player. He graduated in 1962 and later 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. He also is a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity.
Michaels' first job in television was with Chuck Barris Productions, choosing women to appear on The Dating Game. His first sportscasting job came in 1964, when he was hired to do public relations for the Los Angeles Lakers. He was later hired by the team to serve eight games as a color commentator but fired after the first four, after Laker play-by-play announcer Chick Hearn disapproved of him. Michaels, who had worked on the team's media guide, was also considered to be the first color commentator of the Los Angeles Kings, where he would have been with Jiggs McDonald. That assignment went to Ed Fitkin instead.
Michaels resumed his professional broadcasting career in 1968, calling the games of the Hawaii Islanders baseball team in the Pacific Coast League. He also called play-by-play for the University of Hawaii's football and basketball teams as well as high school football games, and 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, Ohio, where he became the lead announcer for the Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball. In 1972, the Reds won the National League Championship Series and advanced to the World Series. Michaels helped cover the Fall Classic for NBC Sports, and also was the network's play-by-play man for the hockey coverage at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan.
In 1973, two days before he was assigned to call the regular-season NFL finale between the Houston Oilers and Cincinnati Bengals, Bill Enis died from a heart attack at the age of 39. NBC proceeded to bring Michaels in to replace Enis in the booth with Dave Kocourek.
In 1974, Michaels 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. He called the no-hitter by John Candelaria on August 9, 1976. He signed with ABC Sports in January 1977.
ABC Sports (1977–2006)
Michaels initially joined ABC as the back-up announcer on Monday Night Baseball in 1977. The following year, he was promoted to the network on a full-time basis. He became the lead announcer replacing Keith Jackson in 1982. Over the next three decades, Michaels covered a wide variety of sports for ABC, including Major League Baseball, college football, college basketball, ice hockey, track and field events, horse racing, golf, boxing (such as the 1985 Marvin Hagler/Thomas Hearns fight), figure skating, road cycling, and many events of the Olympic Games as well as the Olympic trials.
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. At one point on Cheap Seats, Michaels' then dark, curly hairstyle drew sarcastic comparisons to Quiet Riot lead singer Kevin DuBrow.
While at ABC, he aired many prominent events including serving as the studio host for the Stanley Cup Finals. Also, he served as host for the yearly Tiger Woods Monday night specials that aired in July or August.
Two of Michaels' 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 squad from the Soviet Union, and was in front of an incredibly excited pro-American crowd in Lake Placid, New York. Michaels' 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' 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.
He 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."
Ironically, 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
- "Daily 49er : CSULB professor explores baseball’s impact on Jewish Americans". daily49er.com. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
- "Al Michaels' bio at Sports Stars USA". Sports Stars USA. Archived from the original on November 13, 2006. Retrieved January 12, 2007.
- Michael Hiestand (August 18, 2006). "Michaels brothers: TV destiny". USA Today.
- Stewart, Larry (January 26, 2003). "He Keeps Living Dream Come True". The Los Angeles Times.
- Malamud, Allan (June 5, 1993). "Stanley Cup FINALS". The Los Angeles Times.
- "Michaels signs contract extension with ABC". ABC Sports online. ABCSports.com. May 13, 2003. Retrieved August 14, 2009.
- "Olympic final most-watched hockey game in 30 years - NHL.com - All-Access Vancouver". nhl.com. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
Syken, Bill (November 15, 2004), "He Missed the Call!", Sports Illustrated 101 (19),
George Michael may be the only American who wasn't thrilled by the Miracle on Ice. As a sportscaster at WABC-AM in New York and the radio play-by-play man for the NHL Islanders in the late '70s, Michael expected to get the job of announcing the 1980 Olympic hockey tournament on ABC-TV. Instead the assignment went to Al Michaels, whose call of the U.S. upset of the Soviet Union at Lake Placid--"Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"--became an instant classic. History will judge ABC's decision kindly, but Michael was crushed. After all, it could have been him. "When they beat the Russians, I was about as depressed as you could get," Michael says. "I thought, Man, the golden opportunity of your career just vanished before your eyes." Instead, Michael's lost chance became his big break. After the Olympic snub he moved to D.C., where his Sports Final became a local hit, and the Sports Machine was soon born.
- Curtis, Bryan; Lee, Patricia (30 October 2013). "An oral history of the 1989 World Series, which was dominated by the Oakland A's — and devastated by the Loma Prieta earthquake". Grantland.
- "Earthquake". Time. Monday, October 30, 1989. Ed Magnuson. p. 2. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
- News report on MLB.COM, 1:50 minutes in. Retrieved August 29, 2009.
- "Earthquake". Time. Monday, October 30, 1989. Ed Magnuson. p. 3. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
- Marquez, Donald (17 October 2009). "Series, Interrupted". SBNation.com.
- Marquez, Donald (9 November 2009). "Scrapbook Memories: 1989 World Series, Game 3, Part 2". SBNation.com.
- Sports Media Watch presents the ten worst personnel moves of the 2000s. #10: Al Michaels as lead NBA play-by-play voice (2004–05, ABC)
- Is Buck the new Michaels?
- "Monday Night Football - Michaels signs contract extension with ABC". espn.go.com. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
- "Michaels, Theismann, Kolber, Tafoya to crew MNF". ESPN. July 26, 2005.
- Bob Raissman (January 31, 2006). "Michaels won't give play-by-play of plans". New York Daily News.
- "ESPN names new MNF team; Breen to call NBA games". ESPN. February 10, 2006.
- "NBC acquires Michaels for cartoon bunny, golf". The Associated Press. February 13, 2006.
- "Epic (Mickey) trade: Disney swaps Al Michaels for Oswald | Joystiq". joystiq.com. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
- Eye On Sports Media: Al Michaels to Host Winter Olympics for NBC Sports
- Yoder, Matt (9 February 2015). "Marv Albert and Sugar Ray Leonard are NBC’s boxing announcing team". Awful Announcing.
- Casselberry, Ian (16 January 2015). "NBC brings boxing back to prime time, hosted by Al Michaels". Awful Announcing.
- Abramson, Mitch (14 January 2015). "Al Haymon MIA as NBC announces new prime time boxing schedule". New York Daily News.
- Willis, George (15 January 2015). "Al Michaels to call top-notch boxing on NBC — who will watch?". New York Post.
- Fang, Ken (June 29, 2011). "Al Michaels & Bob Costas To Call Game For MLB Network in July". Fangsbites.com. Wordpress. Retrieved July 3, 2011.
- "Enshrinement » Al Michaels named winner of Rozelle Award". profootballhof.com. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
- "ASA's Top 50 Sportscasters of Alll Time". americansportscastersonline.com. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
- Stewart, Larry (January 26, 2003). "He Keeps Living Dream Come True". The Los Angeles Times.
- Moeller, Jeff (November 5, 2012). "Mic'd Up with Al Michaels". National Hockey League. Retrieved November 5, 2012.
- Walz, Steve K. (April 18, 2011). "A Passion For Football - And Israel: An Interview with New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft". JewishPress.com.
- Morgenstein, Mark; Stapleton, AnneClaire (April 20, 2013). "Legendary sportscaster Al Michaels arrested, charged for DUI".
- "Great Moments In Al Michaels History", Deadspin.com, n.d.
- Al Michaels – ABC Sports Journalist – Nationwide Speakers Bureau
References and notes
- Sigma Nu LEADership learning program
- Al Michaels's Inspirational Quotes
- Al Bernstein
- Hubie Brown
- Cris Collinsworth
- Howard Cosell
- Dan Dierdorf
- Ken Dryden
- Boomer Esiason
- Dan Fouts
- Frank Gifford
- Lee Grosscup
- Suzy Kolber
- Andrea Kremer
- Tommy Lasorda
- John Madden
- Tim McCarver
- Jim Palmer
- Doc Rivers
- Lon Simmons
- Michele Tafoya
- Lesley Visser
- Earl Weaver
- 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
- 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–present: NBC Sunday Night Football Play-by-Play
- 2015–present: PBC on NBC Host
- 1972 Winter Olympics men's ice hockey
- 1972 World Series
- 1973 National League Championship Series
- 1979 World Series (Games 3–5)
- 1980 Winter Olympics men's ice hockey (famous for the USSR vs USA semifinal aka the "Miracle on Ice")
- 1981 World Series (Games 3–5)
- 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 (Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal play against each other for the first time ever in the first of three consecutive Christmas Day meetings. O'Neal was traded to Miami the previous offseason.)
- 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 and NFL HOFer John Madden)
- 2010 Winter Olympics (daytime host and co-host of closing ceremony)
- Super Bowl XLVI (2012)
- 2012 Summer Olympics (daytime co-host and co-host of closing ceremony)
- 2014 Winter Olympics (weekday host for NBCSN, weekend daytime host for NBC)
- Super Bowl XLIX (2015)
Unless otherwise noted, Michaels was the play by play announcer.
Michaels was also the featured voice in Hardball 3, a popular computer baseball game for PC. He was also featured, along with John Madden, in the Madden NFL series from Madden NFL 2003 to Madden NFL 09.
As previously mentioned, Michaels had an acting role in a 1970 episode of Hawaii Five-O, and has appeared as himself in the films Jerry Maguire and BASEketball, as well as on several TV shows including Coach and Spin City. Also as previously mentioned, his call of the U.S. hockey team's victory in the 1980 Olympics can be heard in the 2004 film Miracle. Michaels re-recorded all his original play-by-play coverage for the film, except for the immortal line.
It was Michaels who explained to Peter Jennings that Jennings had been the victim of a prank call in the final hour of O. J. Simpson's Bronco chase, after the Bronco had pulled into Simpson's driveway and parked. The prankster, claiming to be watching Simpson inside the van, described what he said to be the scene in perfect Stepin Fetchit dialect, then signed off with "...and Baba Booey to y'all." Michaels, unlike Jennings, understood the prankster's use of the term as an association of being a Howard Stern fan. Michaels himself is a Howard Stern fan, and has discussed that prank call as a guest on Stern's show.
In popular culture
In 2014, Michaels released an autobiography titled You Can't Make This Up: Memories and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television, which reached the New York Times bestseller list for nonfiction. In a February 2015 interview, Michaels alleged that artificial crowd noise was pumped into the 1987 World Series in the Minnesota Twins' home stadium the Metrodome.
Michaels was arrested and charged for driving under the influence on April 21, 2013. He was released after about five hours.
In March 2011, Michaels accompanied New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his wife, Myra, to Israel to visit Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem, an American football venue and home to three teams in the Israeli Football League, which is sponsored by the Kraft family. It was one of Myra Kraft's last trips before becoming sick with the cancer that would ultimately take her life July 20, 2011.
Michaels currently resides in Los Angeles. Al Michaels married his wife Linda (Née Stamaton) 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.
Michaels is the eldest child of Jay and Lila Michaels. Michaels has a younger brother, David and a younger sister, Susan.
- Five-time Emmy Award winner - Outstanding Sports Personality (Play-by-Play Host)
- Three-time National Sportscaster of the Year - National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA)
- NSSA Hall of Fame inductee (class of 1998)
- Sportscaster of the Year - American Sportscasters Association (ASA)
- Sportscaster of the Year - Washington Journalism Review
- Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
- Television Academy Hall of Fame inductee (class of 2013)
- Pete Rozelle Radio & Television Award - Pro Football Hall of Fame
- ASA Top 50 Sportscasters of All Time.
- Football stadium at Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles (Michaels' alma mater) named Al Michaels Field.
Awards and honors
On July 8, 2011, Michaels teamed up with 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.
MLB Network (2011)
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 (beginning on March 7), including five to be shown in prime time on Saturday nights.
Premier Boxing Champions
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' 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.
NBC Olympic Daytime host
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. 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 XLIX on February 1, 2015.
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." However, 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.
On February 9, 2006, NBC confirmed that Michaels would be joining Madden at the network to broadcast football on Sunday nights, thus ending Michaels' 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, NBC Universal 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 NBC Universal). NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol explained, "We earn nothing from those rights; they've had no value in the United States."
"Traded" to NBC for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
NBC Sports (2006–present)
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).
Also, then-ABC Sports President Howard Katz said, "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."
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."
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.
In 2003, he 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.
Leaving ABC for NBC
Besides his inconsistent work, Michaels (despite being initially seen as adding credibility to ABC's NBA broadcasts in contrast to his predecessor, Brad Nessler) was criticized for apparently lacking the kind of enthusiasm and confidence (for instance, Michaels initially reacted to Amar'e Stoudemire's block of Tim Duncan's shot during the 2005 playoffs by calling it a "great, great contested shot") expected of a No. 1 play-by-play voice. Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News said that Michaels was simply “not a basketball guy”. Meanwhile, Bill Simmons said during the 2005 Finals that Michaels “shows up for these games, does his job, then drives home thinking, "‘Only five weeks to the [NFL] Hall of Fame Game, I’m almost there!’"
Replacing Michaels on The NBA on ABC was Mike Breen, who became the lead broadcaster for an over-the-air NBA package for the first time in his career. Breen worked 2006 NBA Finals with Hubie Brown, as well as all the main games ABC broadcast that year. This gave ABC its first consistent lead broadcaster since Brad Nessler, as Breen (unlike Michaels) did games every week.
Early in the 2004–2005 season, ABC found a new partner for Al Michaels. Memphis Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown, a broadcasting legend with CBS, TBS, and TNT, was forced into retirement due to health reasons and was soon after hired to replace Doc Rivers. Michaels and Brown began their partnership on Christmas Day 2004, working the highly anticipated Shaquille O'Neal-Kobe Bryant game. After that game, the two did not do a game together again until March 2005. Michaels became sporadic in NBA coverage, doing two games in early March, and then three more games in April. Brown worked every week of ABC's coverage, broadcasting some games with veteran broadcaster Mike Breen. For the 2005–2006 season, Al Michaels and Hubie Brown were slated to remain as ABC's number one broadcast team. The duo worked that year's Christmas Day game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat and were expected to work the NBA Finals together as well. However, due to Michaels' impending departure to NBC, that plan did not come to fruition.
For the first several weeks of the 2003–2004 season, Michaels had no partner. However, Doc Rivers, a critically acclaimed analyst when he worked with Turner Sports, became available after a 1–19 start by his Orlando Magic. Rivers was hired weeks before ABC's Christmas Day season opener. He and Michaels worked that game together, one of only six they did together during the regular season (all other games Rivers worked were with Brad Nessler). During the playoffs, the team worked every single telecast, including the 2004 NBA Finals, which saw great improvement in television ratings. During the 2004 NBA Playoffs, Doc Rivers was hired by the Boston Celtics. Though Rivers continued to work games with Michaels throughout the rest of the playoffs, ABC would have to find a new lead analyst for the 2004–2005 season.
After disastrous ratings in the 2003 NBA Finals, ABC decided to revamp their lead NBA broadcast team. Brad Nessler was reassigned to the second broadcast team, where he was joined by Sean Elliott and Dan Majerle. Michaels was hired to replace Nessler as lead broadcaster of the NBA.
NBA on ABC
Former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason (who had personal conflicts with Michaels and therefore, left after the 1999 season) replaced Gifford in 1998, and Dierdorf was dropped after that season. Unexpectedly, comedian Dennis Miller joined the cast in 2000 along with Dan Fouts. In 2002, following Miller and Fouts' departure, John Madden joined Michaels in a well-received pairing.
The trio of Michaels, Dan Dierdorf (who joined MNF the year after Michaels' first), and Frank Gifford lasted until the 1997 season, when Gifford was replaced following disclosure of an extramarital affair. During the 1980s, Gifford would fill-in for Michaels on play-by-play whenever Michaels went on baseball assignments for the League Championship Series (1986 and 1988) or World Series (1987 and 1989).
Michaels' longest-running assignment was that of the lead play-by-play announcer on ABC's Monday Night Football telecasts, a position he held for 20 seasons beginning in 1986. Before that, his most notable NFL assignment for ABC was hosting (along with Jim Lampley) the pre-game coverage of Super Bowl XIX. In 1988, Michaels called his first Super Bowl. Three years later, Michaels was on hand to call the thrilling Super Bowl between the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills. Bills kicker Scott Norwood missed a potentially game-winning field goal, and thus, ensured the Giants victory.
Monday Night Football
At this very moment ten days ago, we began our telecast with an aerial view of Marina. The severed bridge. The grotesque tangle of concrete in Oakland. The pictures are embedded in our minds. And while the mourning and the suffering and the aftereffects will continue, in about thirty minutes the plate umpire, Vic Voltaggio will say ‘Play Ball', and the players will play, the vendors will sell, the announcers will announce, the crowd will exhort. And for many of the six million people in this region, it will be like revisiting Fantasyland. But Fantasyland is where baseball comes from anyway and maybe right about now that's the perfect place for a three-hour rest.
According to Tim McCarver, when the earthquake hit, he, Michaels and Jim Palmer immediately grabbed a hold of what they perceived to be the armrests. In reality, the announcers were clutching on each other's thighs and they were each left with bruises the next day. Years later (on a 1999 SportsCenter retrospective about the 1989 World Series earthquake), Al Michaels would boldly admit his strong belief that had the earthquake lasted much longer than 15 seconds, he would have been killed. Michaels added that the only time that he really had been scared during the earthquake was when he moved in a position which he perceived to be backward. The three announcers were sitting on a ledge with their backs turned and no bracing behind them.
On October 17, 1989, Michaels was in San Francisco, preparing to cover the third game of the 1989 World Series between the home team, the Giants, and the visiting Oakland Athletics. ABC's network telecast began with a recap of the first two games, both won by Oakland. Soon after Michaels handed off to his broadcast partner, Tim McCarver, who started assessing the Giants' chances for victory in the game, the Loma Prieta earthquake struck (at approximately 5:04 pm local time). Michaels exclaimed "I'll tell you what—we're having an earth—" as the network feed cut out. When ABC restored audio via telephone 15 minutes later, Michaels quipped, "Well folks, that's the greatest open in the history of television, bar none!" Michaels then reported from the ABC Sports production truck outside Candlestick Park on the earthquake, for which he later was nominated for an Emmy Award for news broadcasting. Michaels relayed his reports to Ted Koppel, who was stationed at the ABC News bureau in Washington, D.C.
1989 World Series
The defeat still left the Angels in a 3 games to 2 advantage, with two more games to play at Fenway Park. The Angels were not able to recover, losing both games by wide margins, 10–4 and 8–1. Game 7 of the 1986 ALCS ended with Calvin Schiraldi striking out Jerry Narron.
When Donnie Moore came in to shut down the rally, there were two outs, and a runner on first base, Rich Gedman, who had been hit by a pitch. The Angels were one out from their first-ever trip to the World Series. But Dave Henderson hit a 2–2 pitch off Moore for a home run, giving the Red Sox a 6–5 lead. The Angels were able to score a run in the bottom of the ninth, pushing the game into extra innings. Moore continued to pitch for the Angels. He was able to stifle a 10th inning Red Sox rally by getting Jim Rice to ground into a double play. Nevertheless, the Red Sox were able to score off Moore in the 11th-inning via a sacrifice fly by Henderson. The Angels could not score in the bottom of the 11th, and lost the game 7–6.
In 1986, Michaels was also on hand for what he says was "the greatest of all the thousands of games I've done." On October 12 at Anaheim Stadium, Michaels along with Jim Palmer called Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. The California Angels held a 3 games to 1 lead of a best-of-seven against the Boston Red Sox. In the game, the Angels held a 5–2 lead going into the ninth inning. Boston scored two runs on a home run by Don Baylor, closing the gap to 5–4.
The infamous and controversial leadoff single by Orta and the Jack Clark error eventually led to the Royals loading the bases and putting the tying run on third base and the winning run on second with one out for Jim Sundberg's heroics (for his difficult slide past catcher Darrell Porter for the winning run) or the Game 7 blowout that were most remembered in years to come.
In the bottom of the 9th, pinch hitter Todd Worrell with Kansas City trailing 1–0 and hit a ground ball to first baseman Jack Clark. Clark threw over to pitcher Worrell, who was running over to cover first base in time to beat the speedy Orta and did. Yet first base umpire Don Denkinger still called Orta safe at first. Steve Balboni then hit a pop-up to first which Jack Clark missed for an error, keeping Balboni's at-bat alive, and he promptly singled to put men on first and second.
Perhaps Michaels' first historic call with ABC Sports while covering Major League Baseball occurred in what is now known by many as the Don Denkinger game. The Kansas City Royals trailed the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 in a series that was panned for being low-scoring and dull. After a Royals win in St. Louis forced the action back to Kansas City, the sixth game was also low scoring. However, this contest grew into a tense pitcher's duel.
1985 World Series
In the Riverfront Stadium.
Even though the events of October 17, 1989 in San Francisco are widely considered to be the most dramatic baseball-related moment of Michaels' career, he had several others that were memorable.
Memorable baseball moments