NBC presented a panel for their Sunday Night Football program to the Television Critics Association. Since the season hasn’t started yet, it was all speculative, but just having Sunday Night Football to broadcast is a relief to many. After the panel, I went up to legendary sportscaster Al Michaels for his thoughts on the 2011 season.
CraveOnline: I was here when NBC made the transition to Sunday Night Football. How do you feel it about it after all these years?
Al Michaels: Well, Monday Night Football was the premiere prime time package in all of television through ’05. Then the National Football League got together and decided they were going to make Sunday night the prime package. When I say that, they were going to give it the best schedule and promote it. That’s exactly what has happened. That’s exactly what’s taken place because our schedule is terrific. If you want to match our schedule for the last six years up against what ESPN has gotten, I’ll let you make the call on that. All I know is we get the SuperBowl champion at least three times every year and they get them once or twice. That’s anecdotally about all you need to know. I think it’s worked out great. It’s the number one show on television in the fall so I think it’s been a phenomenal success and it’s worked out. It’s been great. If you read the ESPN book, Disney never should have lost Monday Night Football. They blew it. It was a blown opportunity.
CraveOnline: What would you have done if there had been no football this year?
Al Michaels: Oh, probably instead of playing 18 I would’ve played 36. That’s it in a nutshell.
CraveOnline: What games are you most looking forward to calling this season?
Al Michaels: Well, the opener for starters. The September 11th one in New York is great. That’ll be a very special, special night. The Colt/Patriot game is going to be great. I talk about Pittsburgh/Baltimore, that’s become the big rivalry too. So off the top of my head, those are four games for starters.
CraveOnline: Where’s the line for you with a rivalry? It’s great television but when does it become unsportsmanlike?
Al Michaels: Well, Pittsburgh/Baltimore people, it’s as hard hitting as anything in the league these days. I don’t think it’s gotten over the top. The guys just beat the hell out of each other but that’s what football is. Football is a rough game. That rivalry just happens to feature some of the most vicious hitting I’ve ever seen in all the years I’ve covered football.
CraveOnline: How about the game where Michael Vick will face his old team?
Al Michaels: Oh, that’s great. To be there that night and that speaks again to Sunday Night Football? Where did that game wind up? Didn’t wind up on Monday night. It wound up on Sunday afternoon. Didn’t wind up on Thursday night. Wound up on Sunday night. That’s all you need to know.
CraveOnline: How monumental is that game?
Al Michaels: Well, it’s big. We all know the backstory. Everybody knows this. I don’t know what kind of a reaction he’s going to get but those things come and go. Whatever the reaction is, it’s going to be at the top of the game, they’re going to react to him and then it’s going to be a football game. There’s going to be a tremendous amount of hype, Michael Vick is coming back to Atlanta, how are they going to respond to him, all that stuff. But you can play to that a little too much. The game starts and then it becomes a football game.
CraveOnline: Over the years, what is one of the most amazing things you’ve seen as a sportscaster?
Al Michaels: I’ve seen a lot of amazing stuff but nothing will beat Lake Placid hockey. That stands along.
Photo credit – NBC Sports