1. When several high-profile NFL broadcasters landed monster contracts last offseason (triggered by Tony Romo getting an extra-monster contract in 2020), a debate started about the importance and value of game announcers.
CBS’s Greg Gumbel made headlines in March when he appeared with me on the SI Media Podcast and said, “What does tickle my thought process is, I’ve never felt in my entire life there is an announcer who can bring someone to the TV set to watch a game that that viewer wasn’t already going to watch. And I believe the only thing a broadcaster can do is chase people away.”
Gumbel later added, “People have said to me, ‘Oh, Al [Michaels] and Cris [Collinsworth] did a great job on Sunday night.’ Yeah, they always do a great job. However, they do the best game of the week.”
Well, Al, working with Kirk Herbstreit, certainly didn’t have the best game of the week on Thursday night, when the Colts and Broncos couldn’t find the end zone and gave us a 12–9 snoozefest. And Al shined.
Part of why Al can do these things in these situations is because he’s Al Michaels. He’s been around forever, Amazon desperately wanted him in hopes of giving their telecast credibility, and Al has reached the point in his career where he doesn’t give a you-know-what.
It was still a bit surreal, and absolutely awesome, when Al, getting frustrated by the lack of action late in the second quarter, dropped this amazing line.
Quick sidebar here. We need to give a big shout-out to CBS’s Andrew Catalon, who has often called the fifth regional game on CBS, for acknowledging Al’s line.
Al didn’t stop there, either. He kept up the snark throughout the entire game.
NFL telecasts are not the place you go to for honest assessments. That’s what made Al’s performance so great. He wasn’t going to try to tell the viewers this was some hard-nosed, defensive football battle. There was no action at all, and Michaels embraced that reality.
That kept me tuned into the game. If I didn’t sense Al was going to have some fun with the grossness of the game and thought he would play it straight, I would’ve put the game on my iPad with no sound and watched something else on my TV.
But the commentary became so entertaining, I couldn’t turn away.
Micheals earned every penny of his lucrative Amazon contract Thursday night.
And he’ll have earned it over again next week, when the Commanders face the Bears and we get treated to a Carson Wentz–vs.–Justin Fields matchup.
2. One last thing on Al Michaels (I had to go to a separate item for this one, because it’s so good). Because Al has been on the SI Media Podcast several times, including last month ...
... I have Al’s phone number. I have never texted Michaels during a game. But last night I couldn’t help myself, because the game was so horrific. So at halftime, I shot this quick message off to Michaels: “The only thing that can make the second half watchable if if you drop a farcical.”
If you follow me on Twitter or if you're a regular Traina Thoughts reader, you know that I think the Howard Stern/O.J. Simpson/Al Michaels/Peter Jennings prank call is the greatest moment in live TV history.
Michaels did not respond to my text during the game, but this did happen.
3. Al Michaels wasn’t the only one having fun at the expense of the Colts and Broncos. Twitter was on fire mocking each team’s ineptness and the pain we suffered as viewers.
4. Good Morning Football‘s Kyle Brandt went all in on Russell Wilson during Friday’s show.
Speaking of Kyle, I was a guest Thursday on his new show, Kyle Brandt’s Basement, and had a great time chopping it up with him.
5. For the first time, Twitter will offer live look-ins for postseason games. Accounts including @MLB, @BleacherReport, @BRWalkoff, @ESPN and @MLBonFOX will provide livestream cut-ins during all four rounds.
6. This week’s SI Media Podcast features an outstanding conversation with combat sports journalist Ariel Helwani.
The longtime MMA reporter, who also covers professional wrestling and boxing, explained how he's carved out a successful sports media career after leaving ESPN, the challenges he faced covering MMA while working at Fox and ESPN, why he ended up leaving ESPN, his tumultuous relationship with Dana White, the art of interviewing WWE superstars, what he tries to get out of interviews and much more.
Following Helwani, Sal Licata from WFAN radio and SNY TV in New York joins me for the weekly “Traina Thoughts” segment. This week Sal talks about going viral after declaring that the Mets had the NL East wrapped up in June, I reveal my favorite story of the day, and we give out our weekly NFL best bet.
You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.