Al Michaels was the target of significant ridicule following Saturday night’s thrilling AFC wild-card playoff game between the Chargers and the Jaguars, as numerous viewers found themselves disappointed with the longtime play-by-play broadcaster’s perceived lack of excitement during the game’s most pivotal moments.
The bulk of the backlash directed at Michaels came after Jacksonville kicker Riley Patterson drilled a 36-yard field goal as time expired for the win and the NBC announcer gave a rather subdued call. However, Michaels found no issue with his call, instead saying that he was “very happy” with his performance in a text to the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand.
“Must have gotten a hundred texts from folks who were very happy to see me back on NBC,” Michaels said. “Read some comments that we didn’t sound excited enough. Internet compost! You know me as well as anyone—no screaming, no yelling, no hollering. It’s TELEVISION! Ellipses and captions are [sufficient] when pictures tell the story.”
Michaels continued, admitting that he and broadcast partner Tony Dungy had a more difficult time getting excited about the game in the first half when L.A. led 27–0. As the game tightened, Michaels explained that he didn’t want to use an “over-the-top-yelling” style, citing some previous announcing greats who conducted more understated broadcasts.
“I thought the energy was much better once Jax made it a game,” Michaels said. “27–0 makes it difficult to make it sound like more than it is. One of the things that I think makes Tony good is that he doesn’t overtalk and load it up with unneeded blather. He’s measured, but almost everything he says has relevance and poignancy.
“A lot of folks who understand this industry are annoyed with the over-the-top yelling that makes a game sound like an offshoot of talk radio. I’m in that corner, but there are others who obviously think otherwise. Don’t you find it ironic that the most understated announcer of all time was the iconic Pat Summerall. And before that— Ray Scott. And lots of folks still yearn for that style. One size doesn’t fit all.”
Though Michaels’s defense of his broadcast style checks out, plenty of viewers still felt like the call for one of the most exciting games of the year left something to be desired.