Al Michaels continues to speak out on NFL issues


Al Michaels had strong comments about embattled Washington owner Dan Snyder during Thursday night’s Commanders-Bears game on Amazon Prime. Keith Srakocic/AP Photo

Scrolling up and down the dial as you enjoy listening to Mike Gorman on Celtics telecasts for his 42nd year. He sure misses his old partner, but…

· Al Michaels belongs on the hypothetical Mount Rushmore of play-by-play votes in all of sports, and he still thinks the game is great at age 77. But anyone expressing surprise at his strong comments about embattled Washington owner Dan Snyder during Thursday night’s Commanders-Amazon Prime Bears game must have a short memory.

Michaels has always been willing to share his opinion on league matters more than most play-by-play voices will, and he certainly has the gravitas to say whatever he wants. But those who suspect that Michaels, who has said among other things that he believes the NFL wants Snyder to sell the Commanders, helped spread a message that Roger Goodell and the league wanted to convey are not just playing a guessing game .

Patriots fans will remember the strange situation during their playoff win over the Ravens in the 2014 season. Late in the first quarter, when the camera panned to Goodell and his wife, Jane, in the stands at Gillette Stadium — he’s a regular guy, you know — Michaels sternly read a statement summarizing Robert Mueller’s investigation into the commissioner’s actions regarding the Ray Rice domestic violence incident.

Analyst Chris Collinsworth chimed in, saying he never had reason to question Goodell’s integrity, and Michaels agreed that Goodell’s integrity was intact after the report. This remains one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen on an NFL broadcast that didn’t involve Antonio Brown taking off his uniform and hitting the road.

· It’s probably no surprise, but Richard Sherman has emerged as the most interesting voice in Amazon Prime’s NFL studio. He had a funny viral moment — especially for Patriots fans — two weeks ago when his former Seahawks teammate Russell Wilson, now with the Broncos, threw an interception in overtime on a fourth-and-1 situation. “On the final play, you have to run the ball again,” Sherman said in a raised voice. “… One yard. You need 1 yard. Drop the ball. Drop the ball!” He later tweeted simply “Flashbacks,” a reference to… well, you know. Wilson’s game-saving interception by Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl XLIX.

· How long have Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti of 98.5 The Sports Hub dominated afternoon drive in Boston? It’s been more than a decade since they finished anything other than first in a three-month ratings period among sports radio’s coveted male 25-54 demographic. The last time “Felger and Mazz” didn’t top the Nielsen Audio Ratings was in the spring of 2012, when it finished third with a 6.2 share. WZLX programming was first while WEEI’s “Ordway and Holley” finished second with a 7.9 share. WEEI got a nice boost from the Celtics’ appearance in Game 7 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals — it was the lead station then, with The Sports Hub securing the rights in September 2013.

· For those of us of a certain age who grew up tuning into the bunny ears of a black and white TV to get Bruins broadcasts on Ch. 38 to look like they weren’t being played in a snowstorm, technological advances in broadcasting and television quality were a gift to hockey fans. Something similar to what the Bruins are doing this season – broadcasting all home games in 4K/HDR quality, extremely clear and detailed picture – would be unattainable. NESN previously aired Red Sox home games in native 4K/HDR on three TV providers — Verizon, DirecTV and fuboTV. Bruins broadcasts will be available on these providers, but users of each provider will be able to watch in 4K/HDR by subscribing or authenticating in the NESN 360 app if they have a 4K TV and a 4K connected device such as Apple TV, Google TV or Fire TV.

· It’s fitting that Pedro Martinez sits in Charles Barkley’s seat at the far right of the set during TBS’ postseason baseball coverage because he’s the star and occasionally plays a comedic role on the show. Last week, Martinez had an engaging, emotional interview with the often stoic Albert Puhols, in which the retiring player broke down in tears as he marveled at the life baseball has given him. “Can you imagine a Dominican little boy shining shoes, [hauling] trash every Saturday to bring food to my grandmother, grandfather and father who were struggling… [To] to use my life in this way is just amazing,” Puhols said. “I wouldn’t change a thing.” Martinez was an empathetic interviewer, telling compatriot Puhols: “I love you, I’m proud of you, everything you’ve done.”

· I heard from several Yankees fans who told me they really enjoyed listening to Dennis Eckersley’s analysis on NESN’s Red Sox broadcasts. Proof, I suppose, that an informed, entertaining broadcaster transcends rivalry. On a related note, I watched a half-dozen to a dozen Yankees broadcasts on the YES Network during Aaron Judge’s pursuit of the American League home run record, and analysts David Cone and Paul O’Neill were good company. Play-by-play voice Michael Kay, not so much.

· A reminder we’ll revisit as the game approaches: The Patriots-Bills game on Dec. 1 is a Thursday Night Football game on Amazon Prime. But in local markets it is simulcast on Fox affiliates, so it will be available locally on Ch. 25 if you’re not a Prime subscriber.

· Speaking of streaming and the hassle of finding access to a certain game, the Bruins play on ESPN+ and Hulu three times this season, the first on Nov. 3 against the Rangers. The other two are March 2 against the Sabers and March 9 against the Oilers. These are all Thursday games and will not be televised on NESN or ESPN. You must be an ESPN+ or Hulu subscriber to watch.

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