Al Michaels All but Officially Confirmed His ‘Sunday Night Football’ Days Are Over: ‘We’ll See What’s Gonna Happen Down the Line’

Article Highlights:

  • Legendary NBC Sports announcer Al Michaels all but confirmed his days on Sunday Night Football are nearing an end
  • The 76-year-old has called SNF since NBC acquired the broadcast rights in 2006
  • Michaels is expected to work Thursday Night Football games for Amazon Prime next year

Football fans have no desire to see Al Michaels go gentle into that good night, especially not when they’ve been waiting all day for Sunday night. 

It’s hard to imagine a Sunday Night Football without Michaels, who has been the event’s play-by-play voice since NBC acquired the rights in 2006. If you were still holding out hope that the 76-year-old would call SNF into his 80s, we have some unfortunate news — and it comes courtesy of the man himself. 

Al Michaels is trying to enjoy the last year of his contract with NBC

For several years now, the external expectation has been that 2021 would mark Michaels’ final season on SNF. He turns 77 on Nov. 12 (we should all be so lucky to look that good at 77) and is in the last year of his contract. 

Things became far more interesting when Amazon Prime acquired the Thursday Night Football rights, a change that will begin next season. Michaels is widely expected to replace Joe Buck as the game’s play-by-play voice. 

In a Nov. 4 appearance on the Sports Illustrated Media PodcastMichaels said he’s “playing out this year” and enjoying what could be his final go on SNF. Luckily for Michaels and fans, his SNF career shouldn’t end with a random playoff game. NBC will air Super Bowl 56 on Feb. 13, and, barring anything unexpected, he’ll be in the booth for his 11th Big Game. 

“Right now I’m just trying to relish this point in my life. Loving what I do. Loving the people I work with. We have the Super Bowl in my hometown. This contract can’t end any more beautifully for me, and then we’ll take a look, and we’ll see what’s gonna happen down the line.”

Al Michaels

Michaels did not officially say this is his final season doing SNF or working for NBC Sports. Amazon Prime is expected to partner with one of the major networks and allow them to simulcast and distribute the Thursday games. 

“If there is a combination for production between Amazon and NBC, that creates a different template here,” Michaels said. “Because in effect, we would wind up overseeing two packages. It’s not a deal yet. I know it’s being discussed.”

Michaels addressed the questions about why NBC would force him out when he’s still at the top of his game

Even as he rapidly approaches 80 and nearly 50 years of calling NFL games, Michaels hasn’t lost any speed on his fastball. He still has the same grandfatherly tone, he’s not missing plays, and he’s still showcasing his much-adored chemistry with color commentator Cris Collinsworth. 

With that being the case, some football fans and media members — including SI’s Jimmy Traina — have openly wondered why NBC is rushing to take Michaels off SNF. Mike Tirico gets more than his fair share of work between NBC’s Notre Dame broadcasts, Football Night in America, and the network’s Olympics coverage. 

During their Nov. 4 interview, Traina point-blank told Michaels he didn’t understand why the network would take him off SNF. After admitting he didn’t know what would happen down the line, the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee provided an interesting response.

“I do know this. There was no way that I was going to hang on. If I couldn’t feel as if I was doing the game the way I have to do the game, the way I have done the game, listen, you’re not going to appeal to everybody, I know. I’ve lasted 36 years, prime time in the NFL, so I’ve done a good enough job that I haven’t pissed off too many people.”

Al Michaels

Michaels added that he appreciated Traina’s support and input. In a Sept. 27 column, Traina referred NBC’s reported consideration of letting Michael’s walk after this year as “completely dumbfounding.”

What will ‘Sunday Night Football’ look like without Michaels?

As of publication, NBC hadn’t yet announced who would call SNF in 2022. Conventional wisdom would hint that Tirico would join the pre-existing group of Collinsworth, sideline reporter Michelle Tafoya, and rules analyst Terry McAulay. 

Tirico worked with those three when the Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Oct. 17. Michaels had that week off for rest reasons.

Collinsworth, who turns 63 in January, is not currently expected to leave the SNF booth anytime soon. However, he did work on FNIA from 2006-08, so he’s at least somewhat familiar, if rusty, with the format. 

It is not known if NBC would consider promoting Drew Brees, who works with Tirico on Notre Dame games, to a three-man booth. The Super Bowl 44 champion currently spends his Sundays on FNIA and being linked to whatever quarterback job becomes available. 

Life at NBC has the potential to look far different when Michaels isn’t awaiting the Collinsworth slide. You know, of course, Amazon decides to reunite them next year…

Like Sportscasting on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @sportscasting19.

RELATED: Al Michaels Has Called Football Games for Over 30 Years but Had a Special Reason for Calling Pete Rose His Favorite Athlete To Cover