Al Michaels has one of the most legendary, iconic voices in all of broadcasting – sports or otherwise. He has spent part – or all – of six decades calling some of the most compelling moments in sports history, including the Miracle on Ice and Game 3 of the 1989 World Series, which was interrupted by an earthquake.
And yet, the 70-year-old NBC announcer admits that he still gets nervous before big games – and not because of weather or natural disasters.
“I do get a little nervous, (but then Cris) Collinsworth whacks me upside the head and I’m ready to go,” Michaels joked on Tiki and Tierney. “But you know what it is? It’s like you’re a horse in the starting gate, and the gate opens up and you just want to come out cleanly. You don’t want to stumble or throw the rider. But once you get going, you’ve been there before, and the game is the game. Just open up cleanly, get going, get off to a good start and you’ve been there before.”
Michaels, along with Collinsworth, will call Super Bowl XLIX between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots on Feb. 1.
“You know it’s the Super Bowl,” Michaels said. “There’s a little bit of exhilaration that goes with it, too. You know what it is. You know it’s the end of the season. You know it’s a game people are waiting for. You know it’s a national holiday. It’s very exciting. To me, this will be No. 9, but it’s not a case of necessarily saying, ‘Hey, I’ve been there eight times, so I understand what this is.’ Every game that you do, you want it to be perfect – and that’s what hopefully we can pull off in a couple of weeks.”
Michaels admitted he had no idea his career would unfold the way it did when he was still just a young reporter trying to make a name for himself.
“When you first start out, you’re learning,” he said. “You’re learning every step of the way. When I got to do the World Series on national television, I’m 27 years old. I’m the announcer for the Cincinnati Reds. This is 1972. And in those years, NBC would bring in the No.1 announcer for the team that won the pennant to do the World Series with Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek. So the Reds win the pennant. Now I’m doing the World Series at 27 on national television. I swear, when we come on the air, Gowdy’s going to start, then the camera’s going to widen out and they’re going to bring me in. And at that point, the only thing that I had in my brain was, ‘Please, God, please, when I open my mouth, let air come out.’ That’s all I could think about at that time. I just didn’t want to get totally overwhelmed.
“I talk about it in the book,” Michaels continued, referencing his memoir, You Can’t Make This Up: Miracles, Memories, and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television. “It’s like teeing off in the AT&T at Pebble Beach. You’ve got 5,000 people there. I play a lot of golf, but I’m not really good at it. All I could think about in my head when I’m teeing off in front of 5,000 people and it’s dead quiet is, ‘Please God, don’t let me whiff.’ So that’s not the greatest swing thought in the world, but whatever gets you there, gets you there.”