Al Michaels talks Super Bowl prep, best advice he's received

This is a telling barometer of how long Al Michaels has been involved with the Super Bowl. When Michaels, along with Jim Lampley, handled ABC's pregame, halftime and postgame duties for Super Bowl IX between San Francisco and Miami in 1985, his analysts were Tom Landry and O.J. Simpson.

"Think about that," Michaels said.

Thirty-three years later, Michaels is gearing up to work on NBC's coverage of Super Bowl LII next week. He will reach a milestone of sorts by doing play-by-play for his 10th Super Bowl; his first on the call was Super Bowl XXII in 1988. Pat Summerall, who did play-by-play for 11 Super Bowls, is the only other announcer in double-digits in that category; he did 16 overall, including 4 as an analyst and 1 as a sideline reporter.

"I can't believe it," Michaels said. "It's really a blessing to do it this long."

Of course, that begs a question Michaels figures to hear several times next week in Minneapolis: How many more Super Bowls does he have in him? Michaels, who turned 73 in November, is well aware the clock is ticking on a transcendent career in sports broadcasting.

However, Michaels insists he still is a ways away from delivering any farewell speeches.

"I believe it was Marv Levy who said, 'Whenever you think about retiring, you're already retired,'" Michaels said. "That's always stuck with me, because it's true. My brain feels like it is 19, and my body on most days feels really good. I really love what I do, and I work with the greatest people in the business. That gives me a tremendous boost."

When the time does come, Michaels would like to exit like his old partner John Madden did. With no advance fanfare, the long-time analyst retired in 2009 after working Super Bowl XLIII with Michaels.

"John still was as good as he ever had been, but he said, 'It's time,'" Michaels said. "They won't have to tell me it's time. Maybe they will, but I think I'll know before anyone else. I'm very hard on myself. If I can't do it the way I want to do it, I'll step aside."

Here's another gauge on Michael's longevity. Cris Collinsworth only was a fourth-year receiver for Cincinnati when Michael worked the 1985 Super Bowl. Collinsworth, who has shared the NBC booth with Michaels for nine years, insists his partner still is at the top of his game. He scoffs at any retirement talk.

"Al might retire at 167," Collinsworth said. "I'm more worried about me fading than Al. He's a bundle of energy. He is a genius. He is amazing at what he does."

Part of Michaels' legacy will include several iconic calls at the Super Bowl. He called Scott Norwood's missed field goal, denying Buffalo a title in Super Bowl XXV. There was St. Louis linebacker Mike Jones making the game-saving tackle on Tennessee's Kevin Dyson in Super Bowl XXXIV.

In Super Bowl XLIII, he saw Pittsburgh's Santonio Holmes had both feet in-bounds for the last-second winning touchdown over Arizona. Then in Super Bowl XLIX, Michaels had to react quickly when New England's Malcolm Butler made an improbable goal-line interception to allow New England to escape over Seattle.

Michaels relishes the sensation when the Super Bowl is on the line, and the entire country is listening to his call.

"You feel like every synapse of your brain is working," Michaels said. "There's tremendous clarity. It's almost like you're really feeling it in the booth. Maybe you slow it down by a tenth of a second. Naturally, you want to make sure you get it right."

Michaels also has experience from the other perspective in working Super Bowls that turn into blowouts. Washington ran up a 35-10 halftime lead over Denver in Super Bowl XXII, forcing Michaels and analysts Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf to fill for most of the second half.

Michaels says he "over-prepares" for every game, but that's especially the case for the Super Bowl. He estimates he uses about 8-10 percent of the material he compiles in advance of the game.

"You have to fold in the stories to where the game takes you," Michaels said. "It's like preparing for a disaster. You don't want to have to go there, but you know the escape route."

Michaels still remembers the feeling he had on that 1988 morning in San Diego. "I thought to myself, 'How cool is this? I get to call the Super Bowl,'" he said.

Michaels knows he will feel the same way when he awakes on Super Bowl Sunday in Minneapolis. It goes back to something Curt Gowdy told him early in his career: "Don't ever get jaded."

Michaels says he takes that piece of advice to heart. Even after all those years and all the big sporting events he has called, Michaels can't wait to get to the next one.

"I still love sports," Michaels said. "I still love the drama. I love that when you go to the stadium, you don't know what's going to happen. The fact is, anything can happen. I love that."

Two tough guys: ESPN's latest 30 for 30, "The Two Bills" (Thursday, Feb. 1, 9 p.m. ET) features riveting character studies of Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells. The film examines their long and complicated relationship, dating back to when Belichick worked on Parcells' staff with the New York Giants.

NFL Films producer Ken Rodgers scored a coup by getting both men to sit together in the Giants locker room to discuss their ups-and-downs through the years.

"To say that Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells have strong personalities would be a huge understatement," said Rodgers. "When we set out to make this film, our number one goal was to find out how these two strong-willed coaches, with such determined individual viewpoints, could work together for as long as they did. But by the time we were done, we couldn't imagine them not working together for all those years. Their histories and philosophies are more intertwined than we could have imagined. We're thrilled they chose to share that history with all of us."

The documentary features interviews with Lawrence Taylor, Robert Kraft, Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis, Scott Pioli, Ty Law, and more.

Social justice: NFL Network presents a series of player social justice features in partnership with the NFL's newly launched Let's Listen Together initiative. It begins Thursday with Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and his work with the Upper Darby Police Department. The feature on Jenkins will air on NFL Network's Good Morning Football at 7 a.m. ET and NFL Total Access at 6 p.m. ET.

NFL Network's feature on Jenkins, along with upcoming segments on New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith, is in partnership with the NFL's Let's Listen Together initiative, a campaign designed to promote engagement among players, owners, local leaders and communities on social justice and equality. Each week, NFL Network features exceptional players who advocate for social justice in their communities in partnership with the initiative.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.
Gamepass_vert_web_r

See all the Action

Replay every game all season.