No working broadcaster can match the resume of Al Michaels. He is most commonly known for his role on “Monday Night Football,” but has also made his mark elsewhere.
Here’s what you need to know about him.
1. He Made His Mark on ‘Monday Night Football’
Michaels initially joined ABC as the back-up announcer on Monday Night Baseball in 1977. But 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, figure skating, road cycling and the Olympics.
But Michaels made his name as the play-by-play announcer on Monday Night Football, a position he held for 20 years beginning in 1986.
In 1988, Michaels called his first Super Bowl. The trio of Michaels, Dan Dierdorf 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.
In 2002, John Madden joined Michaels in a well-received pairing.
2. He Gave the ‘Miracle on Ice’ Its Name
In the final seconds of the 1980 U.S. – U.S.S.R hockey game, commonly known as the “Miracle on Ice” Michaels, who was broadcasting the game alongside Ken Dryden, made one of the most famous calls in the history of sports. With the final seconds ticking in the U.S.’ 4-3 upset, Michaels made his now-infamous call.
“Eleven seconds, you’ve got 10 seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? … Yes!”
Michaels later said, “The only thing I can think back upon … is the word that came into my head was ‘miraculous,’ and it got turned into a question and I answered it.”
Battling back from three one-goal deficits in a semifinal game in which they were outshot, 39-16, the Americans finally took the 4-3 lead when captain Mike Eruzione scored with exactly 10 minutes left. The word ‘Miracle’ also inspired a 2004 Disney movie of the same name to capture the event.
3. He Called the Earthquake-Interrupted World Series Game in 1989
On October 17, 1989, Michaels was in San Francisco, preparing to cover the third game of the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the visiting Oakland Athletics. Soon after Michaels handed off to his broadcast partner, Tim McCarver, the Loma Prieta earthquake struck
Michaels exclaimed “I’ll tell you what—we’re having an earth—” as the network feed cut out. ABC restored audio via telephone 15 minutes later, on which Michaels said:
“Well folks, that’s the greatest open in the history of television, bar none!”
Ten years later, Michaels said he believed that if the earthquake lasted longer than it did, he would have been killed.
4. He Currently Works for NBC
After Madden left ABC to join NBC in 2006, it became widely speculated that Michaels would be joining him.
On February 8, 2006, ESPN announced that its Monday Night Football team would consist of Mike Tirico on play-by-play, with Joe 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 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).
Michaels began his NBC tenure on August 6, 2006, with the network’s telecast of the preseason Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, while his regular-season debut came on September 7 of that year with the help of his new color commentator Cris Collinsworth.
5. He Has a Book Coming Out
Michaels has a book coming out about his career, titled, “You Can’t Make This Up: Miracles, Memories, and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television.”
According to the book description, “Michaels shares never-before-told stories from his early years and his rise to the top, covering some of the greatest moments of the past half century—from the “Miracle on Ice”—the historic 1980 Olympic hockey finals—to the earthquake that rocked the 1989 World Series. Some of the greatest names on and off the field are here—Michael Jordan, Bill Walton, Pete Rose, Bill Walsh, Peyton and Eli Manning, Brett Favre, John Madden, Howard Cosell, Cris Collinsworth, and many, many more.
Forthright and down-to-earth, Michaels tells the truth as he sees it, giving readers unique insight into the high drama, the colorful players, and the heroes and occasional villains of an industry that has become a vital part of modern culture.”