“Impossible,” Al Michaels said. It had to be.
Bears kicker Cody Parkey had just hit the goal post for the sixth time this season — and then the crossbar, too — sending the Eagles to the divisional round and the Bears home. And, of course, Michaels was in the booth for a most improbable finish.
“That’s why I do this, because if every game is the same I’d get bored stiff,” said Michaels, the longtime NBC play-by-play man. “But the great thing about sports is you don’t know. The only thing that we as announcers root for is high drama. And that game had as much drama as any game I can think of in quite some time.
“I’ve always loved sports, and I’ve never waned in my love for sports because you don’t know. It’s the greatest unscripted show ever.”
Michaels has been behind the mic for some of the most dramatic calls in sports memory. Your first thought goes to the Miracle on Ice, but there’s also another famous field goal (Scott Norwood, wide right) that Giants fans fondly remember and the Malcolm Butler interception from Super Bowl XLIX.
“You just want to stay in the moment,” Michaels said of dealing with the drama he gets paid to chronicle. “You’re always concentrating, but at that particular point really lock in, put blinders on, forget about everything else that’s going on, just stay in that moment, don’t overthink it.
“Just going back to 1980, I wasn’t thinking about the line at the end of the U.S.-Soviet game, it just came. It came out my heart. I don’t think how I am going to call something, I just let it happen and trust my instincts that I’ll make the right call. And some are better than others, there’s no question about that. You can’t hit a grand slam every time when you’ve had several hundred dramatic endings.”
Michaels’ final NFL game of the season comes Saturday when the Chiefs play host to the Colts in the AFC divisional round. At 74 years old, though, Michaels does not see the end of his career anytime soon.
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“I love, love, love what I do,” said Michaels, who is finishing his 10th season calling games alongside Cris Collinsworth. “If I can’t do it the way I want to do it then I’ll be the first guy to say, ‘No, that’s enough. My brain is not working fast enough.’ Thank God that has not come about. I love walking into a stadium.
“The three hours of a game are very adrenalizing, and the synapses in my brain open right up. The preparation makes you confident that you can do it. I look around and there’s a lot of inspiration out there for me.”
As a kid in Brooklyn, Michaels grew up idolizing Vin Scully then was a contemporary of Marv Albert and Brent Musburger.
“Vin was 88 when he retired and as good as anyone when he stepped away. My man Marv Albert, Marv likes to hedge a little bit. He may be a little younger than me now, but not really,” Michaels continued, laughing in a way that lets you know he’s teased Albert about his age incessantly.
“I love Marv, he’s great. Then there’s Brent Musburger. … It’s been an amazing run, and I hope it lasts as long as possible.”