NFL

When Will Al Michaels Return to Sunday Night Football?

Al Michaels is serving in a reduced role in the broadcast booth for the 2020 season for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” coverage. Michaels was lined up to return in Week 15, but some unclarity concerning his status with the COVID-19 safety protocols will keep him out. The question now becomes when will he back in the mix?

Al Michael out for Week 15, Mike Trico steps in

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Before the 2020 season, Al Michaels was expected to take a reduced role in the broadcast booth for NBC’s coverage of Sunday Night Football.

His time with that role this year took at least one less game as he missed the Week 15 matchup with the New York Giants hosting the Cleveland Browns. On Friday, NBC Sports announced that Michael hadn’t been medically cleared to work Sunday’s game due to COVID-19 safety protocols.

Mike Trico is stepping in for the second straight week alongside Cris Collinsworth, while Michele Tafoya will be the sideline reporter. Meanwhile, Liam McHugh will assume Trico’s role as the host of Football Night in America alongside Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Chris Simms, and Mike Florio.

Trico was originally slated to call the Saturday night matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers. Longtime Fox Sports broadcaster and current LA Dodgers play-by-play voice Joe Davis took the call for that contest. The question now becomes when Michaels will be back in the booth.

When will Al Michaels return?

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NBC is rolling forward without Al Michaels for the second straight game as his absence for Week 15 puts some uncertainty around his immediate future.

The company hasn’t confirmed that Michaels tested positive for COVID-19, but that alone clouds the situation. The 76-year-old commented through a press release stating that he feels no symptoms and hopes to return to the booth quite soon. (H/T Boston.com)

“I feel great, I have no symptoms, and my temperature this morning was 97.5 [degrees]. I look forward to returning to the booth as soon as possible,” Michaels said in a statement.

NBC will likely keep the status of the matter close to their vest to allow Michaels to maintain his personal space. The legendary broadcaster’s comment does give a clue that he could return at some point shortly.

There is only one more Sunday Night Football game left on the slate for the 2020 regular season that will occur in Week 16 as the Green Bay Packers host the Tennessee Titans. There is no game scheduled for Week 17, which is the typical schedule for each regular season.

The likely scenario is that Michaels returns for playoff action as he works a wildcard game. There should be more clarity on this front in the coming weeks.

NBC remains ready to roll with Mike Trico

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NBC will continue to closely monitor the situation with Al Michaels, given the potential seriousness of the matter.

Meanwhile, the company can move comfortably forward with Mike Trico holding down the role as the play-by-play voice. Trico has years of experience in that spot, including ESPN’s Monday Night Football from 2006 to 2015. There is also the strong notion that he could take over whenever Michaels steps down from the vaunted position.

The 76-year-old has yet to express any desire to step away from the role any time soon. Ultimately, there isn’t clarity in terms of when Michaels will return this season, but Trico is more than capable of filling that role for as long as needed.