Play-by-play legend Al Michaels will not be in the booth for Sunday night’s Browns/Giants game on NBC. Michaels was also absent from last week’s Bills/Steelers broadcast with Mike Tirico calling the action alongside Cris Collinsworth. Tirico will be paired with Collinsworth again in Week 15 after Michaels was, according to NFL’s Network’s Ian Rapoport, unable to clear NBC’s COVID protocols. As of now, it’s unclear if Michaels is battling the virus or was merely deemed a close contact. Regardless, the recent Ford Frick Award recipient insists he feels “great” and isn’t experiencing any symptoms.
Michaels, who turned 76 last month, had previously alluded to working fewer games this year, allowing Tirico, who typically handles hosting duties from NBC’s Stamford studios, occasional play-by-play reps with Collinsworth serving in his usual, color analyst capacity. Many attributed Michaels’ absence last week to load management, but now it seems COVID was the real culprit.
Many on social media have been quick to point out the irony of Michaels potentially testing positive for COVID after spending most of October 4th’s Eagles/49ers broadcast complaining about his mask (COVID regulations in California required he wear one). Michaels would certainly qualify as “high risk” given his age—TNT’s Marv Albert sat out the NBA’s Bubble slate in Orlando this summer for precisely that reason—though fortunately he seems to be doing just fine, reporting a temperature of 97.5.
Michaels will hope to return for next week’s Sunday night matchup between the Titans and Packers at Lambeau Field.