Peter King of Sports Illustrated has been on vacation for the last few weeks, so some notable names including Domonique Foxworth of the Broncos and Texans general manager Rick Smith have filled in to write King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column. This week’s stand-in is acclaimed play-by-play announcer Al Michaels, whose long-time association with football provides plenty of fodder for great stories — and whose constant travel over the last few decades provides plenty of fodder for King-style gripes about hotel accommodations and airplane pilots. Below are some notable excerpts from Michaels’ column. King returns next week.
When this labor impasse gets reduced to “millionaires against billionaires,” that’s a gross oversimplification. It’s usually said or written with scorn with the underlying theme being “a pox on both their houses.” There are too many good people on both sides. I’ve known dozens of owners and hundreds of players through the years who’ve devoted too much time and money and resources to terrific causes to be linked with the devil.
So the owners backed out of the old collective-bargaining agreement because they’re selfless angels.
So a cautionary note to the guys coming into the NFL: everyone wants to get into your wallet. Taxes will eat up almost half your salary. Beware the entourage. Beware the jewelry store. Beware the McMansion with dubious resale value. Protect your bread. There’s still plenty of life after the NFL, but build up a nice little cushion. The boring investment is often the smart investment. Don’t buy oceanfront property in New Mexico. And once in a while you can still hit Vegas because there are few greater thrills in life than a 40-minute roll at the craps table. And make sure to take the odds.
And here’s a plea to airline cockpit crews — why do some of you have the mute button on when you know there’s turbulence ahead? And I’m not talking about the clear air kind. How hard is it to tell the customers that there’s rough weather ahead and we’ll be out of it in X number of minutes? In fact, every trip should begin with a what-to-expect weather report. Granted, the majority of crews basically do this but I’ve experienced dozens of trips where we’ve hit rough stuff (sometimes for long stretches) and the passengers hear nothing. We know you’re up there but why not give us a little information. It’s comforting just to hear that you’re trying to find a different altitude or whatever as lightning flashes all around. This should be part of the pilots’ manual. And while we’re at it, maybe the airlines could check their aircraft P.A. systems once in a while. Is it just me or has anyone else noticed you can’t make out the announcements on about one in four or five flights?
I think that John Madden is as important and as legendary a figure as anyone in the history of the National Football League. As a coach, he had a magnificent 10-year run, good enough on its own merits to earn induction into the Hall of Fame. As a broadcaster, he was the gold standard. He rewrote the book on how to analyze football, spawning dozens of imitators along the way. But John was THE original.
He made the game more understandable and accessible to tens of millions of viewers and always made it more fun to watch. He completely understood how to combine information with entertainment.
And then he rewrote the book on video games, turning even more millions into football lovers. One of the great joys of my career was the seven-year stretch I had with John. I wish it could have been 27.
Getting paired with John was like winning the lottery. And then I won the lottery again when John retired and in came Cris Collinsworth.
Thank you, Dick Ebersol.