Al Michaels did an impromptu interview with TMZ in West Hollywood on Friday, and the end of the video seems to be a hint for a mystery I’ve been trying to solve for a couple weeks.
At the 38-second mark, they asked him who he thinks should replace Jon Gruden on Monday Night Football. Michaels answered, “As long as it’s not Collinsworth, I’m happy because I love Cris. He’s the best.”
In early 2016, SI’s Richard Deitsch wrote that Michaels’ contract with NBC ran through the end of this present NFL season, when the peacock network is broadcasting the Super Bowl. Deitsch also wrote at the time that Mike Tirico would be an “overwhelming favorite” to replace Michaels on SNF “if NBC could pry him away from ESPN,” which has obviously happened.
This may be reading too much into a brief TMZ video, but if Michaels were ready to retire, why would he care about Collinsworth remaining with NBC?
Michaels is 73 years old now, and a Super Bowl would be a fitting swan song for a great career if he were ready to hang it up, but he still calls a great game. He also has that rare aura where his presence on the broadcast alone makes it feel like a special, important contest.
NBC Sports spokesperson Christopher McCloskey and Michaels’ agent Marvin Demoff did not respond to emails from The Big Lead last week inquiring into his status beyond the Super Bowl.