Cris Collinsworth didn’t need a thread, a notes app, or seven Instagram story slides to bid farewell to his longtime broadcasting partner, Al Michaels. He kept it brief, and gave the people what they wanted, and I’m sure Michaels chuckled when he saw it.
The post is only nine words, an exclamation point, and an eight-second video. That video, Michaels calls Collinsworth over, who slides into the frame next him one final time at Super Bowl LVI.
Honestly, I felt Michaels almost blew the call at first. The reason that the slide is so beloved, is because he and Collinsworth play it perfectly deadpan every week. It was 2018 when the Sunday Night Football crew finally noticed that we noticed Collinsworth sliding into frame every single week. While the social team absolutely plays it up, Michaels and Collinsworth know the viewers are waiting for it and never acknowledge it. Then one Sunday night they might shock the world by Collinsworth sliding into the frame from a different side, and act like nothing is out of the ordinary.
For this final introduction, Michaels decided to break the fourth wall and said “Cris, come slide on in here.” I was a bit disappointed, but Collinsworth came in a little too strong and had to untangle the microphone wire as he arrived in the frame. The fact that their final slide together wasn’t executed perfectly, turned out to be a nice touch and made it memorable.
It was well known that the 2021 NFL season would be Michaels’ last with Sunday Night Football and NBC. Mike Tirico did play-by-play duties quite often last season, and he will be returning that role on a regular basis for the first time since he was on ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcast. However Michaels had no desire to end his career in the booth, so the legend became the latest to cash in on a massive new contract in this new landscape for NFL broadcasters.
The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reported yesterday that Michaels agreed to a three-year contract to be the play-by-play person for Thursday Night Football on Amazon. The deal is reportedly worth somewhere in the neighborhood of the $15 million annually that Joe Buck recently received from ESPN to call Monday Night Football. Michaels will be joining Kirk Herbstreit in the booth on Thursdays.
Watching NFL football next season is going to take an adjustment. No more Buck and Troy Aikman working every other Dallas Cowboys game for Fox, and Herbstreit is going to be calling NFL games. What’s next? Is Robert Griffin III going to take over Todd Blackledge’s “Taste of the Town” segments? If we’re going to do all this shifting of broadcast teams, let’s at least get Gus Johnson off of Big Noon Saturday. We don’t need him that early on a weekend. In an ideal world, he and Talib would become Fox’s No. 1 NFL broadcast team. I need Gus to call one Super Bowl in my lifetime.
So get used to Mike and Cris on Sunday and Al and Herby on Sundays, but we’ll always have that final slide to remind us of how things used to be.