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Al Michaels reflects on ‘dreadful’ Thursday night NFL games and criticism for candid commentary

Al Michaels

When it came to the NFL viewing experience, one of the most significant changes going into the 2022 season was the broadcasting booth reshuffling that went on.

In a move reminiscent of NFL player free agency, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman ultimately remained arm-in-arm but moved to ESPN for Monday Night Football. While that took away some significant luster for those late-afternoon games on FOX, the biggest adjustment for fans was – by far and away – seeing the legendary Al Michaels leave NBC’s Sunday Night Football to be the face of Amazon’s Thursday Night Football in the first season of its new deal with the NFL.

To say the games got off to a rough start and continued to stay that way, save for a few games like the “Mayfield Miracle,” would be a colossal understatement.

Al Michaels would be the first to tell you as much, not only upon reflecting on the season as a whole but in real-time too – often in extremely relatable fashion.

“I think I’m to the point in my life and career, having watched sports since I was 6 years old, I feel what the crowd feels. The Denver-Indianapolis game [in] Week 4 was a dreadful game. No other way to describe it. No touchdowns. In fact, at one point during the game, I said to Kirk [Herbstreit], ‘Is it possible this game could be so bad that it’s actually good?’ He’d never heard that from a partner and went, ‘No!'”

Al Michaels looking back on his 1st season with Amazon Prime (H/T NY Post)

That last part of the quote was something sports fans routinely say out loud to their friends in order to convince themselves the game they’re watching is, in fact, worth watching.

It was almost as if Michaels was expecting sure agreement from announcing sidekick Kirk Herbstreit, who wasted zero time in bluntly disagreeing.

Al Michaels on Amazon NFL package: ‘You just can’t oversell something’

Al Michaels
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

During that same Broncos-Colts game, Michaels wasn’t even remotely surprised when an overhead camera showed people leaving the stadium during a game that had just gone to overtime.

“Kirk said, ‘I can’t believe it’s overtime and they are leaving.’ I said they’d seen enough. Sometimes you just have to beat the traffic. So, look, was that snarky? I guess, in a way. But you can’t tell me that didn’t reflect the feelings of a lot of people, probably the majority of people watching that game … I try to echo the feelings of what the fan feels because I’m a fan.”

In addition to the sheer entertainment value that Michaels’ candor brings to the table, the great thing about calling an honest game through the lens of a fan is that he has apparently received nothing but unwavering support from Amazon for his perceived “snarky” comments.

As Michaels said, “You just can’t oversell something. Do you want me to sell you a 20-year-old Mazda? That’s what you’re asking me to do. I can’t sell you a used car.”

The following moment in particular regarding the Rams PA announcer constantly pumping “Rams House!” throughout a stadium that has been anything but the “Rams House” was a great example of Michaels speaking candidly for the viewer once again, as the crowd was noticeably Raiders-favored.

Only Al Michaels would come up with something like “this is kind of like their Airbnb” in reference to Raiders fans packing the place.

On a related note, and perhaps what may come as a surprise to those who either forgot or didn’t know to begin with, Al Michaels will make his triumphant return to his familiar seat on NBC to call the Los Angeles Chargers-Jacksonville Jaguars Wild Card game on Saturday night at 8:15 PM ET.

Sadly, Al’s copilot will be Tony Dungy and not his old buddy Cris Collinsworth. But having Michaels back in the saddle on NBC for a playoff game is a fantastic gift all by itself.