Leading up to what could be his final Super Bowl telecast in a long, accomplished broadcast career, Al Michaels has appeared on a variety of media outlets to look back at his years of calling The Big Game for ABC and NBC.
On Tuesday, that “farewell tour,” if that’s what to call it, stopped at The Howard Stern Show. Anyone who’s listened to Stern over the decades or appeared for an interview knows that the infamous radio personality could touch on any topic and take the conversation in many different directions. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise when Stern put Michaels on the spot.
First, Stern voiced his disbelief that NBC could possibly let Michaels go when his contract expires after Super Bowl LVI. The expectation throughout the sports media industry is that the veteran broadcaster will move to Amazon to call play-by-play for Thursday Night Football.
“Really? NBC is gonna let you walk out the door?” Stern said to Michaels (via Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina). “I think it’s a big f—ing error. It’s just like New England letting Brady go. Dude, I don’t get it. I think I’m in shock. This is bulls—. Everyone loves you. You’re doing great. What are they changing things up for? You got the No. 1 show.”
As could be expected, Michaels didn’t take the opportunity to criticize NBC. He didn’t feel “betrayed,” as Stern speculated, and went on to explain the thinking.
“I feel that the decision was made predicated on making sure there was a succession plan in place,” said Michaels.
Looking back, it’s entirely possible this is a plan Michaels thought was a good idea until getting to this point and realizing he still had plenty left as a broadcaster and might want to continue at NBC.
But if Michaels thought he was off the hook after evading Stern’s attempts to goad him into ripping his NBC bosses, the conversation eventually moved to another topic: the COVID-19 vaccine. With a worldwide audience of 100 million, Stern implored Michaels to encourage viewers to get vaccinated.
“Do you ever feel, and I know with sports you can’t be controversial,” said Stern. “No one’s there to hear your opinion; I get all that. But Al, please — when you’re on there and you got 100 million people, tell them to get vaccinated for Christ’s sake, you know what I mean?”
Michaels didn’t take the bait there, either.
“You’re right when people tune in to watch the game, they want to watch the game,” Michaels said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on in sports around the game.”
We don’t know what Michaels’ stance is on getting vaccinated and aren’t likely to find out since it’s such an inflammatory topic for some viewers. However, Michaels did make his irritation over having to wear a mask on the air apparent during a 2020 Eagles-49ers broadcast. A Santa Clara county mandate required it.
“We’re good boys, though,” Michaels said during the NBC telecast. “We’re going to get lollipops at the end of the game tonight.” He later added that he’d ditch the mask as soon as Sunday Night Football signed off.
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WFAN, WCBS Become New Flagship For Rutgers Football, Men’s Basketball
“The multi-year deal begins with the 2022-23 season.”
Rutgers University and Audacy have announced an agreement that will make WFAN and WCBS the flagship stations for the school’s football and men’s basketball teams.
The multi-year deal begins with the 2022-23 season.
“Rutgers athletics is on the rise under Greg Schiano and Steve Pikiell in the Big Ten, bringing excitement and anticipation to Tri-State area fans,” said Chris Oliviero, Market President, Audacy New York. “WFAN and WCBS 880 will provide listeners with unmatched coverage of the Scarlet Knights and we are honored to add Rutgers to Audacy’s market-leading play-by-play portfolio.”
A 30-minute pregame and postgame show will air on WFAN for all Rutgers football games, while basketball games on WCBS will get a 15-minute pregame and postgame show.
Games will be able to be streamed locally on the Audacy app, and the company said both stations will promote the partnership on-air and digitally, in addition to on-campus events throughout the school year.