NBC’s portion of the NFL “Thursday Night Football” package does not kick in until mid-November, so there is ample time to reveal its announcing crew.
Still, there is plenty of curiosity surrounding its plans, especially with the news that ESPN veteran Mike Tirico will be joining NBC effective July 1.
NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus, producer Fred Gaudelli and play-by-play man Al Michaels all said Tuesday at the UJA-Federation Sports for Youth luncheon in Manhattan that there is nothing to report yet, even though it widely is expected that Tirico will get the play-by-play assignment.
The NFL’s original Thursday night deal with CBS two years ago included an understanding that it would come with the No. 1 announcing team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms.
But if Michaels opts not to do the Thursday games, Tirico presumably would be viewed by the NFL as an acceptable 1A after his decade calling “Monday Night Football.”
“Everything is to be determined right now,” Michaels said before emceeing Tuesday’s event, at which NFL senior vice president Howard Katz was honored. “We have Mike, but they can’t make an announcement about anything until, I think, Mike’s [ESPN] deal is up.”
Would Michaels be open to adding Thursday night games to his Sunday schedule?
“Right now I’m just in a situation where I’m doing whatever they tell me to do,” he said. “I haven’t closed the door on any possibility. I’m doing Sunday night. I’m doing the Olympics. If there’s anything else they want to talk to me about, they’ll talk to me about it.”
Michaels, who along with Tirico is one of only four men to do play-by-play for “Monday Night Football,” endorsed ESPN’s new man for that job, Sean McDonough.
“Sean’s good,” he said. “I think he’s been solid through the years. He’ll do a good job for them, there’s no question. He’s good. He’s kind of a no-nonsense guy who you trust and he’s an easy listen and a comfortable listen, and I’m glad he got an opportunity.
“Hell, I had it for 20 years and it went by in about four. That went by fast. And I probably would have had it a heck of a lot longer if [ABC] would have retained it in ’05, but away it went and I had to go [to NBC] with my guys, Gaudelli and [director Drew] Esocoff and [John] Madden.”