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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Report: NBC denies ESPN’s request to trade for Al Michaels

Al Michaels

ESPN is looking to make some major upgrades to its NFL broadcasting before next season, but the chances of Al Michaels being a part of those changes looks very slim.

Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported last week that ESPN executives have dreams of hiring Michaels away from NBC and pairing him with Peyton Manning on “Monday Night Football.” Since Michaels is still under contract with NBC, the only way ESPN would be able to hire him is by offering NBC some sort of compensation. According to a new report from Marchand, NBC is not interested in a trade for its legendary play-by-play man.

ESPN reportedly approached NBC with the idea of talking about a trade package for Michaels, but NBC declined.

“We look forward to Al completing his contract and calling ‘Sunday Night Football’ games on NBC,” NBC Sports spokesman Greg Hughes told the New York Post.

Michaels, 75, is under contract with NBC through 2022. There’s a good chance Mike Tirico will take over as the lead man on the “Sunday Night Football” broadcast once Michaels’ contract expires, and Tirico could even call some games beginning next season. It’s possible that ESPN could convince NBC to talk trade at some point before then, and Michaels may also choose to sign with ESPN if he becomes a “free agent” in two years and does not want to retire.

While the idea of a trade involving a play-by-play broadcaster seems unusual, it is not unprecedented. When John Madden left ABC’s “Monday Night Football” for NBC in 2006, Michaels informed ABC parent company ESPN that he wanted out of his deal. ESPN released Michaels from his contract, but NBC had to send the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to ESPN as part of the deal. Oswald was the precursor to the creation of Mickey Mouse, and the rights to the character were then owned by NBC’s parent company Universal. The Disney family wanted Oswald back, so the rabbit was included as part of a deal for Michaels.

Even without Michaels, ESPN is not going to give up on pursuing Manning. It’s unclear if Manning has any interest in a career in broadcasting, but he is reportedly being offered an insane amount of money from ESPN.

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