Why Mike Tirico’s Schedule Suddenly Changed and He Replaced Al Michaels on ‘Sunday Night Football’ in Week 15

NFL viewers have seen plenty of Mike Tirico lately, and that isn’t going to change in Week 15.

The football gods have bestowed fans with two Saturday Night Football games — although one is during the afternoon — in Week 15. Josh Allen and the Bills play at the Denver Broncos in the early window, then hand it off to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who host the Panthers that night.

Tirico, who has called Sunday Night Football in place of Al Michaels in recent weeks, originally intended to call the Packers game. Here’s why Tirico is instead calling Sunday Night Football.

Mike Tirico has been a very busy man lately

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Mike Tirico is ending the 2020 calendar year with a lot on his plate, which is good news for him and football fans.

The former Monday Night Football play-by-play voice, Tirico recently called three NFL games on NBC within 14 days. Tirico worked a Bears-Packers game in Week 12, then joined Cris Collinsworth for the long-delayed Ravens-Steelers game three days later.

That Ravens-Steelers game, which was initially planned for Thanksgiving night, occurred on a Wednesday afternoon. Four days later, Tirico was back in the NBC studios to host Football Night in America.

Tirico returned to Sunday Night Football in Week 14. With Al Michaels on another scheduled “bye week,” Tirico called the Steelers-Bills game in Buffalo.

Buffalo won, 26-15, and moved to 10-3 this season. Pittsburgh lost its second straight game after an 11-2 start.

Mike Tirico’s schedule changed in Week 15

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Mike Tirico’s Week 15 schedule changed quicker than anyone could have expected.

Tirico was expected to call the Panthers-Packers game on NFL Network and Fox. Rather than work with his NBC colleagues, Tirico would have been partnered with Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner and sideline reporter Melissa Stark.

Tirico and Warner had worked together before. The duo, along with NFL Media’s Peter Schrager, called Saturday night games in 2018 and 2019.

Stark, 47, is familiar with sideline reporting. She served in that role on Monday Night Football from 2000-02 when the game still aired on ABC.

Everything changed days before the game. Al Michaels pulled out of doing the Sunday Night Football game because of COVID-19 protocols.

Michaels released the following statement, via Awful Announcing.

“I feel great, I have no symptoms, and my temperature this morning was 97.5. I look forward to returning to the booth as soon as possible.”

Tirico will work with Cris Collinsworth and Michelle Tafoya on Sunday Night Football. The New York Giants (5-8) host the 9-4 Cleveland Browns.

Joe Davis will replace Tirico at the Panthers-Packers game.

Who is calling the other Saturday night game?

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Mike Tirico and friends are only calling one of the Saturday Night Football games, not both of them.

Tirico, Warner, and Stark will work the Panthers-Packers game that night. The earlier window will have a traditional Fox feeling to it.

Fox assigned Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, and Lindsay Czarniak to the Bills-Broncos game. That trio has worked together all season and are on the ‘C’ tier of Fox’s broadcast crews.

Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and Erin Andrews headline the ‘A’ team, and Kristina Pink joins them each week on Thursday Night Football. Kevin Burkhardt, Daryl Johnston, and Pam Oliver form the ‘B’ team.

Both Saturday games will air simultaneously on Fox and the NFL Network.

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