WASHINGTON — Legendary broadcaster Al Michaels, back on television after a stint in retirement, broke down in tears Monday as he appeared with another decorated athlete, Olympic gold medalist Chris Collinsworth, in the first of a three-night tour of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” studio shows.
The unusually emotional segment featured Michaels, 73, and Collinsworth, 57, who co-host “Football Night in America” on NBC this fall before Michaels joins Collinsworth as play-by-play announcer on “Sunday Night Football” next season. The two played a significant role in the end of the Carolina Panthers’ 31-24 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 51.
The emotional Michaels started as hosts/co-hosts Molly Qerim and Mike Tirico introduced him.
“This is a hard moment for me because I haven’t done this,” Michaels said, focusing on his voice, before recalling the 2016 season, when he and Collinsworth anchored the World Series, the Super Bowl and the NHL All-Star Game. “I’m scared of missing the next Sunday night because I haven’t been home.
“It’s the greatest privilege I have ever had and, given the TV industry where it is today, this would be the first Monday with the network in 48 years that I never did the football game. And I really don’t know what’s going to happen when I finally get back on the broadcast after this.”
The camera panned to Collinsworth, who held his arm over Michaels’ head as he started to wipe away tears. The camera shot to studio anchor Luke Russert, who wrapped his arm around Michaels. “This is funny, isn’t it?” said Russert, 21, son of NBC News and MSNBC anchor Brian Russert.
Tirico interjected: “It’s serious.
“We might have to cut,” Michaels told him.
After a video of Michaels looking in the mirror appeared onscreen, Amano pushed the “we’ll come back” button.