All things considered, Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth are the NFL announcing duo. Jim Nantz and Tony Romo have quickly gained ground on NBC's prized booth in a short timespan, but aren't on the same level yet. Michaels and Collinsworth preside over the same timeslot every week without fail and have made more than a few iconic calls together over the lifespan of their 12-year partnership.
And the likelihood of that partnership ending is growing more likely by the day, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post. Marchand has been covering Amazon's foray into the NFL world very closely over the last year and, with Amazon set to take over Thursday Night Football starting next year, was the first to write about the corporation's intense interest in prying Michaels away from NBC to call TNF games. In a new column posted today, Marchand expressed his extreme confidence that Amazon would be successful:
Amazon will hire Al Michaels as its lead play-by-player. On the official Clicker Probability Scale, we have this at 90 percent, so we expect it to happen. One of our sources put it at 95 percent. No one we spoke to was pessimistic about Amazon Al becoming a reality. It’s not a done deal, but I’d put money on it.
Marchand goes on to note that Michaels would stay with NBC in a limited capacity; the plan could be to have him on the call for NBC's extra playoff games. But Mike Tirico would take Michaels' place as the No. 1 PBP announcer for Sunday Night Football. These changes are likely to come after the Super Bowl this year, which takes place in Michaels' backyard at SoFi Stadium. Finally, the column mentions that Collinsworth is a candidate for Amazon as the color commentator to pair with Michaels, but intel is far less definitive on that front.
All that is to say the 2021 season may very well be the last for Michaels and Collinsworth. Sure, Michaels will still be part of NBC in some way and the network could still put them together in the occasional games he would call. Michaels could even bring Collinsworth with him. But their days of calling every Sunday night game together are ending, and ending rather soon.
It is more than a little surprising. The Amazon gig seems more well-suited for an up-and-comer in the industry, someone for Amazon to build around for the next five years in their pursuit of becoming an NFL rightsholder on par with CBS, FOX, ESPN, and NBC. Michaels is 76-years old and could decide to retire after this year if he doesn't want to keep working. It'll be a year-by-year arrangement for as long as Michaels is with Amazon. The brand recognition, though, is worth it to Amazon.
All good things must come to an end and all that jazz but it is a little disappointing to see Michaels take another gig instead of riding off into the sunset with Collinsworth. The two have been constants as the game (and the way it's covered) has changed dramatically over the years.
Nothing is set in stone, but the writing is on the wall. For now, we enjoy the chemistry and camaraderie of one of the best booths in football history.