When Al Michaels last came to Philadelphia to announce an Eagles game in December,
Sunday Night Football
became Tuesday night football.
Michaels, the voice of NBC's Sunday night telecast, will call his 25th prime-time football game in Philadelphia when the Eagles host the Chicago Bears this weekend. After recent trips to New England, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh, he appreciated that the milestone will come with unseasonably warm December temperatures - especially after the 2010 game that was postponed two days.
"Just make sure that forecast doesn't change on me," Michaels said.
Michaels said former NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol was "over-the-top excited" about a "snow globe game" in 2010. The weather was not bad leading up to the scheduled kickoff, and Michaels remembered the disappointment in the city when the game was postponed. Former Mayor Ed Rendell lamented the United States was becoming a "nation of wusses."
But when Michales saw the weather later that night, he realized that as much of a spectacle as it would have been, there was so much snow that fans would not have found their cars in the parking lot after the game.
"I would have loved to have done the game, it would have made for an incredible mosaic," Michaels said. "Visually, it would have been phenomenal if you were sitting by the fire with a Courvoisier at home watching the game. But it would have been a freaking disaster for the people sitting in the stands that night trying to get home."
Michaels' most vivid memory of a prime-time game in Philadelphia actually was one that he watched on television. In 1988, Michaels missed a Monday Night Football broadcast at Veterans Stadium to call a New York Mets-Los Angeles Dodgers NL Championship Series game. Randall Cunningham threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns that night - and even punted the ball - in an Eagles win.
Michaels sat in an airplane club at JFK Airport watching the telecast.
"My greatest memory might be from a game I wasn't at!" Michaels said this week.
Michaels called the opening game at Lincoln Financial Field in 2003. He spent much time at Veterans Stadium and thought it had the most "big-time feel" of the multipurpose stadiums of the time. He praised Lincoln Financial Field for its "verticality," allowing for the fans to better see the field.
Michaels, who was born in Brooklyn and lives in Southern California, has a certain affinity for Philadelphia, a city he hasn't been able to avoid. During a 40-yard career, Michaels said he has made around 100 trips to Philadelphia. Most of his trips last about two or three days.
"I've spent 250 days and nights in my life in Philadelphia," he said. "When you do what I've done for a living for all the years . . . I try to get a sense of the city."
And so when people ask him about Philadelphia, he reminds them that more than eight months of his life has been spent here. Michaels praised the passion of the fans and dismissed the treatment of Santa Claus as a "cliché." He emphasized his appreciation for how much the fans know - and how much the fans care.
"One of the things that I've always loved about Philadelphia is that if the Eagles win a big game, everybody is over the moon," Michaels said. "If you lose the game, it's the end of the earth."
This is the first time Michaels is calling an Eagles game this season. Depending on what happens around the league, he could watch the Eagles two weeks in a row if next week's Eagles-Cowboys game is also moved to prime time.
"This is one of those games when you're looking at the game," Michaels said, "and then you're also looking ahead."