Al Michaels will be a main attraction at your Super Bowl party on Sunday. He’s calling the game. (Kickoff time is Sunday at 4:30 p.m. MT on NBC/Ch. 5.)
But if he weren’t in the broadcast booth, the one place Michaels wouldn’t be is at a Super Bowl party. Not that he isn’t interested in the game. But he definitely isn’t interested in watching it with a group, be they friends, acquaintances or total strangers.
“No,” he said. “In fact, I like to watch the games by myself because, otherwise — if you go to a party — there’s always some guy who knows more than you do, right? And I’m going, ‘Puh-leeze.‘ ”
Wrap your head around that for a minute. Some guy at a party trying to explain football to Al Michaels, who’s called NFL games since 1973, was the lead announcer on ABC’s “Monday Night Football” for 20 years, just completed his 12th season as the lead announcer on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” and is about to call his 10th Super Bowl.
Sort of boggles the mind, doesn’t it?
But that’s the way people are. I once had this lawyer with no background in or knowledge of television who kept trying to incorrectly explain ratings to me … and I’ve covered television for almost 28 years. So, yeah, that’s the world we live in.
It isn’t just the annoying know-it-all who can ruin the Super Bowl for Michaels. The annoying know-nothings who are full of questions can wreck it for him as well.
“I don’t want to have to analyze the game or explain things to people,” he said.
Who could blame him? It’s his job, and who wants to have to do their job while they’re at a party? Maybe it’s not exactly the equivalent of pumping a doctor for free medical advice, but it’s at least in the same neighborhood.
If he weren’t working the Super Bowl on Sunday, Michaels would be where he was during the AFC and NFC championship games — shut alone in a room, taking notes. He was “in a cocoon because I want to watch every single moment, feel it live, because we’re going to be doing the game a fortnight hence, featuring those two teams.”
(I kind of love that he said “a fortnight hence.”)
NBC’s Super Bowl coverage will include the traditional overhead shots of the stadium, but none of them will be live. None of them will even be from the day of the game.
“Well, we’re going to fly the drones downtown earlier in the week,” said NBC Sports executive producer Fred Gaudelli, “because there’s FAA restrictions on the airspace on Super Bowl Sunday. Really nothing can go up but a government or local law-enforcement aircraft.”
It’s not exactly a big deal. I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me how aerial shots of the top of a domed stadium add anything to viewers’ enjoyment of a game.
What’s a catch?
When it was suggested that NBC should do a Super Bowl pregame feature explaining what constitutes a reception in the NFL and what does not, Guadelli seemed to suggest that it wouldn’t be altogether possible.
Well, we’d all like the definition of what a catch is,” he said. “I think we all grew up thinking we knew what a catch was, and every single year that line gets more blurry.”
Al’s 10th time
On Sunday, Michaels will become the second sportscaster to call “at least” 10 Super Bowls for television. That’s what NBC Sports told a room full of TV critics, and it’s both true and at least a little bit deceptive.
Yes, this is Michael’s 10th Super Bowl. And only Pat Summerall has also called “at least” 10. Because 11 is “at least” 10.
Actually, Michaels still has a way to go to surpass Summerall. In addition to doing play-by-play 11 times, Summerall was in the booth as the game analyst four times.
Oh, and he was a sideline reporter during Super Bowl I.