On Monday, Al Michaels finally signed with Amazon, per Andrew Marchand of the New York Post. This was not a surprise move. Rumors of Michaels possibly jumping to Amazon for Thursday Night Football permeated sports media talk throughout the 2021 NFL season. The only reason it took this long was probably the game of musical chairs that other significant names in football broadcasting participated in over the last month.
Michaels will reportedly sign on with Amazon for three years and make a similar annual salary to Joe Buck, who signed a five-year deal worth $75 million with ESPN earlier in March. The longtime voice of Sunday Night Football will also have a new booth partner in the form of Kirk Herbstreit. who was signed by Amazon a few weeks ago.
It is exciting news for Amazon but not terribly interesting since it's felt like a foregone conclusion for months now that Michaels would end up on TNF. However, in his article about the finalization of Michaels' Amazon contract, Marchand included a tidbit of some note: Fox declined to pursue Michaels to replace Buck. Per the New York Post:
ESPN would have tried to team Michaels with Aikman if Fox declined to let Buck out of his contract. After Buck left, Michaels and his representatives reached out to Fox to see if it would want him, according to sources, but Fox, with two of the next three Super Bowls, has been inclined to go with Kevin Burkhardt.
We knew Fox liked Kevin Burkhardt to succeed Buck, as was reported in the immediate aftermath of the bombshell news that Buck was leaving for ESPN. But Michaels would have been as close to a one-for-one replacement for Buck as possible. He's a huge brand name in the broadcasting industry and a recognizable voice to even the most casual of football viewers. Michaels wouldn't have pulled double duty with the World Series like Buck did but in regards to NFL broadcasting he and Buck are on the same level.
But Fox didn't want him. They preferred to go with an in-house option. Burkhardt is a quality broadcaster in his own right and is very likely cheaper than what Michaels would've demanded in free agency. It's still a bit of a surprise. It is extremely difficult to smoothly transition from a voice like Buck's to someone else, no matter who it is, but Michaels would have been an obvious choice to make the process a lot easier.
Fox believes in Burkhardt, it seems. He'll have the opportunity to prove them right over the next few years.