Most NFL fans may have noticed a distinct lack of enthusiasm from legendary sports broadcaster Al Michaels this year — and it appears they’re not the only ones.
Still yet, many fans had simply accepted that they would be hearing a less enthused Michaels during the upcoming NFL playoffs due to the broadcaster’s lengthy and legendary career.
(The prevailing theory among fans is that Michaels was set to retire before the season, then Amazon handed him a blank check, so he could be the voice of “Thursday Night Football.” Many fans assumed that half-retirement coupled with the generally poorer quality of TNF games led to Michaels appearing so checked out this year.)
Well, it appears that Michaels’ less-than-enthused performances were noticed by fans and NFL executives alike because a new report from the New York Post is claiming that the legendary voice of Michaels will not be a part of this year’s playoff games.
Per the Post, NBC, which along with ABC had long been Michaels’ home before he shifted to Amazon’s NFL programming this year, will not be needing the 79-year-old’s services when the network hosts four playoff games this year.
The “Sunday Night Football” team of Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth — widely viewed as NBC’s “A-Team” when it comes to announcing — will handle three of those four playoff games.
NBC’s college football “A-Team,” consisting of Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge, will handle the remaining playoff game.
NBC Sports Vice President Greg Hughes confirmed these assignments to the Post.
The most interesting wrinkle about all this is that it appears Michaels was blindsided by these assignments.
In a November interview with the Post, Michaels did seem to acknowledge that his voice may not have the life and pizzazz it once did, but he still seemed ready for the NFL playoffs.
In that interview, Michaels asked the Post how his voice sounded. When the interviewer compared it to an aging star pitcher who may not have all the same pitches in his arsenal as he did in his youth, the longtime announcer agreed.
“Your assessment is fair,” Michaels said then.
But Michaels also pushed back against the idea that he wasn’t “enthused” enough for the job anymore. (Michaels made it clear in November that he wasn’t planning on retiring.)
But according to the Post, Michaels also seemed eager to learn who his announcing partner would be for NBC’s playoff games.
When told in November that there were rumblings he may not be a part of NBC’s playoff coverage, Michaels seemed to imply that he was contractually obligated to announce the playoffs.
“It’s in my deal,” Michaels said. “Where are you hearing that from? That’s part of my deal. Are you hearing something that I’m not hearing?”
Assuming that Michaels and his legendary voice won’t be a part of this year’s NFL playoffs, that leaves just three Thursday night games for the broadcaster this year.
The final three “Thursday Night Football” games of the year (in order), will be: Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders, New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams, and New York Jets at Cleveland Browns.
That being said, this is the first year games can be flexed out of Monday and Thursday nights, so that slate of games is subject to change.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.