The coronavirus pandemic has had a substantial impact on Al Michaels and Mike Tirico’s Thanksgiving schedules.
Fans tuning in to the Sunday Night Football game featuring Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers against a struggling Chicago Bears team will hear Tirico, not Michaels, on the microphone.
Here’s why Tirico will be calling the late-night football game, as well as what Michaels is doing this weekend.
Al Michaels has been with NBC since 2006
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Al Michaels has been a mainstay on Sunday Night Football since NBC obtained the broadcast rights in 2006.
Michaels and the legendary John Madden spent the program’s first three years together. When Madden, a star head coach and broadcaster, retired after the 2008 season, NBC promoted former wide receiver Cris Collinsworth to the lead booth.
Michaels, Collinsworth, and sideline reporter Michelle Tayofa have formed one of sports’ most popular broadcasting teams in that time. Michaels’ subtle nods at gambling spreads and the ‘Collinsworth Slide’ have made both broadcasters fan favorites, especially on social media.
The duo has called three Super Bowls together at NBC. Michaels worked six Super Bowls at ABC and a seventh with John Madden in 2009, their final game together at NBC.
Michaels also co-hosted the pregame show at Super Bowl 19.
Michaels turned 76 earlier this month. He has not announced when he intends to retire, although it is possible that he calls his final game in February 2022, when NBC airs Super Bowl 56.
Mike Tirico usually calls the network’s Thanksgiving game
As Al Michaels has gotten older, NBC has done their part to give the iconic broadcaster more time off when applicable.
The biggest change in Michaels’ schedule has been NBC’s annual Thanksgiving game. NBC began airing Thanksgiving games in 2012, when they acquired the rights to that game from the NFL Network.
When Mike Tirico arrived at NBC in 2016, he began doing the occasional fill-in game for Michaels on Sunday Night Football. That role included sitting in for Michaels on Thanksgiving.
Tirico teamed up with Cris Collinsworth and Michelle Tayofa in the first years of the revised Thanksgiving games. NBC kept Tayofa on the sidelines in recent years, but Tirico worked the Thanksgiving game with former Colts head coach Tony Dungy and ex-Patriots star safety Rodney Harrison.
Mike Tirico and Al Michaels are splitting Week 12 games
Mike Tirico originally would have called both Week 12 games on NBC.
Tirco, Cris Collinsworth, and Michelle Tafoya would have worked the Thanksgiving game between Baltimore and Pittsburgh. A coronavirus outbreak in the Ravens’ building pushed their game back to next Tuesday, however.
Collinsworth and Tayofa will still call that game, which will kick off in the Sunday games’ early window. Al Michaels, who had the entire week off, will join them.
It is not yet known if Michaels will receive a later week off in exchange for working on short notice this week.
Tirico will still call a game this week, although it is the Sunday Night Football matchup between Green Bay and Chicago. NBC always had Tirico, Tony Dungy and sideline reporter Kathryn Tappen scheduled to work that game.
That group calls Notre Dame football games on NBC.