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Noah Eagle Brings a Hardcore Attitude Everywhere

“It wasn’t necessarily the glitz and glamor. It was the relationships; it was the preparation; it was the craft.”

Derek Futterman

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If you have ever been on a job interview, the thought of having to field questions from a hiring manager or executive can be intimidating – especially if it is in your first search for a job, internship or some professional occupation. At the end of his interview for a broadcast position with the Los Angeles Clippers, Noah Eagle was given the opportunity to ask questions in return. He asked what qualities the team was looking for in a broadcaster. His interviewer looked him dead-on in the eyes and replied, “Someone who’s hardcore.”

His interviewer happened to be former Microsoft CEO, business mogul, and Clippers Owner and Chairman Steve Ballmer. Eagle had taken a business trip across the country to partake in this interview as one of the finalists to join the Clippers’ broadcast team out of college.

Eagle, 25, had prepared for this moment from the time he was young growing up around his father: sportscaster Ian Eagle. Whether it was through osmosis or inquisitiveness, Noah became infatuated with sports media at the age of 13 and knew he would find a way to work in the field. On top of that, he knew he had limited athletic ability and yearned to find a way to remain involved in the world of sports.

“I saw him every morning wake up and be excited to go to work; to be excited to do the prep; to be excited to interact with people,” Eagle said of his father. “That’s what drew me to it. It wasn’t necessarily the glitz and glamor. It was the relationships; it was the preparation; it was the craft.”

Eagle was ambitious and adopted a growth mindset, looking to parlay his early experience accompanying his father at games and knowledge regarding how to conduct himself in a professional environment to move ahead in the industry.

On top of that, he began to study his father and other broadcasters to try and determine what made them stand out from others. He would then identify unique parts of their styles and incorporate them into his own. Moreover, he asked his father to provide his opinion on certain aspects of his findings, accessibility to a professional that helped him immensely in his development.

“I was fortunate with him that then I had somebody to bounce that off to now share my findings with and say, ‘Is this how you see it? How do you think that this could work?,’ and he’s always there,” Eagle said of his father. “I know that’s not just for me. He’s that way with a lot of people; a lot of young broadcasters [and] he’s very gracious with his time. I was very fortunate for so many reasons and him being probably the number one reason on that list.”

As a high school student, Eagle recognized his abilities as a public speaker and sought to develop them by serving on the school’s student council and writing the sports column in its newspaper. Yet Eagle did not genuinely immerse himself in sports media until he reached college, but the process of selecting Syracuse University, a place where both of his parents matriculated, was not a foregone conclusion from the start of his college search.

After his first visit to Syracuse, on a day where it was 75 degrees Fahrenheit, he did not believe he could go there simply because it did not feel right to him. His parents were determined in helping him find a place where he would be comfortable and that had a robust sports media program; therefore, they traveled to several schools throughout the country including UCLA, Indiana, and Miami.

Yet Syracuse was always in the back of his mind as a potential landing spot and he gave the school a second chance by visiting before the start of his senior year of high school. During that visit though, his mother gave him an experience deviating from the standard recruitment proceedings during which she took him on a personalized tour of the school from her perspective as a former student.

“About 15 minutes into our drive home… she said, ‘Well, what do you think this time?,’” Eagle remembered. “I said I would apply early decision. It was just that extra viewing of some of the other spots…. [and] that feeling [that] you know it’s the right spot for you.”

From the moment he began at Syracuse University, Eagle’s goal was to join the campus radio station, WAER-FM, as soon as he possibly could. He arrived early to the information session, adding his name on a list with an indefatigable mindset of doing whatever it would take to quickly establish himself and gain experience. Syracuse University is well-known for its alumni network in sports media, attracting many students to its campus each year. As a result, it is a competitive environment in which students gain real-world experience and are required to go the extra mile to earn air time.

“I think the competitive nature pushes you to be the best version of yourself every day just because you know the man or woman next to you is doing the same thing,” Eagle said. “It is also very supportive. Everybody, at least in my experience, is supportive and wants to see everybody succeed. That’s a healthy competition; a healthy drive to be the best.”

Part of joining WAER-FM was having to wake up at the crack of dawn once per week to go to the station to record a sportscast that would not hit the airwaves. He knew from his father, who initially decided not to join the station because of it, that it was a necessary inconvenience to embrace and make the most of.

From there, he called Syracuse Orangemen basketball, football and lacrosse games on the station and became involved with other student media outlets such as CitrusTV and Z89 (WJPZ-FM). Eagle not only sought to develop his skills in sports broadcasting, but also in performing other types of roles in media – including anchoring news coverage and in-arena hosting for events ranging from new student welcomes to midnight madness.

“Every sport; every category; anything else in-between – I just said, ‘Give it to me. I’ll try the challenge. I’ll see if I can make it work,’” Eagle said. “That was the best thing I did because it allowed me to learn what I really like; what I really don’t like; what I want to do long term and then I went from there.”

During his early days at Syracuse University though, Eagle decided not to use his last name, introducing himself to colleagues and friends simply as ‘Noah.’ Once his father heard this, he had a conversation with his son that changed his perspective, saying he had nothing to be ashamed of and that he should embrace his roots. On top of that, it was and remains best practice to divulge your surname in professional environments.

“I should be very proud not just of him but of my mom and my sister and where I come from and the people [who] came before us and the generation before us,” Eagle said. “I shouldn’t run away from that.  He’s well known as a really good person, first and foremost, and that’s what I care about more than anything else. I am proud to be attached to that and I am proud to continue that legacy the best I can.”

In his junior year, Eagle had the opportunity to host his own radio show on SiriusXM’s ESPNU and ACC channels. Moreover, he covered events for NBA Entertainment, such as the NBA Summer League, NBA Draft Lottery, and the G-League Winter Showcase – and worked at the U.S. Open for the Tennis Channel. Gaining this professional experience helped further enhance his portfolio and made him a multi-faceted, skilled broadcaster on the marketplace – although he did not remain there very long if at all.

Eagle became just the second Syracuse University graduate to start broadcasting in the NBA immediately after his graduation (Greg Papa joined the Indiana Pacers’ broadcast team out of college in 1984). Just how this all came together was a combination of extraordinary talent and timing, the latter which was simply out of his control.

As an undergraduate senior, Eagle was told to send his résumé and demo reel to Olivia Stomski, the director of the Newhouse Sports Media Center at Syracuse University. He was not aware that the opening was to broadcast games for the Clippers, but nonetheless provided the materials requested from him. 

Approximately a month-and-a-half later, Eagle received a call from a Los Angeles area code on his cell phone. After some initial hesitation regarding answering the call, he decided to accept and heard Nick Davis, vice president of production for FOX Sports West and Prime Ticket, on the other end. He told him that the network was looking to compile a new broadcast team for the Clippers and that they were interested in flying him in to Los Angeles to audition for the television play-by-play job.

Following calling a pre-recorded Clippers game against the Boston Celtics, he flew back to Syracuse, unclear of how he had done – but if anything, had just gained invaluable real-world experience in landing a job. It turns out he did well enough to make it to the next round of interviews, which would be with team owner Steve Ballmer, and possessed the same mindset that even if he did not land the job, he at least was becoming familiar with the process of a job search.

“I went in with this mentality and I think it helped me because the nerves were just gone,” Eagle said. “I didn’t have any nerves. I walked in there and just said, ‘I’m going to be me and whatever happens happens.’ I got very fortunate in that point just because whatever I did worked. Once I realized that whatever I did worked, I just kept doing it.”

Once he concluded his interview with Ballmer, Eagle remembered calling his parents and saying that he was unsure if he would land the job, but at least he was completely honest rather than telling the team owner what he wanted to hear. Speaking with candor and probity kept Eagle grounded, refusing to abandon his moral principles throughout the process of trying to land a coveted role in the country’s second-largest media marketplace.

“Steve is probably the smartest guy in every room that he’s in, but you would never know it,” Eagle said. “He’s very normal [and] just down-to-earth. He wants knowledge; he’s naturally curious [and] genuine. He was asking me questions and actually wanted to know the answers, [such as,] ‘What do you think of the future of broadcasting? Where do you think this is going? Do you take classes on this? How do you feel about this?’”

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In addition to his work with the Clippers Noah Eagle has served as the preseason voice of the Los Angeles Chargers Photo provided by Eagle

In the end, the organization decided to move radio play-by-play announcer Brian Sieman to the television broadcast, replacing Ralph Lawler. That created an opening on the radio side, distributed to multiple broadcast outlets on terrestrial and digital platforms, and one the organization decided Noah Eagle was best suited to fill. As soon as he received the formal job offer, Eagle emphatically accepted and prepared to make the move across the country to the “City of Angels.”

As is in the case in most new jobs, there is a lot to quickly grasp and learn to effectively perform your role. Having his father as a resource was especially helpful in determining how to best prepare, conduct himself and adjust to his new lifestyle. Whenever he did not know what to do, he fell back on Ballmer’s answer of being “hardcore,” and that state of being uncomfortable began from the onset – as Eagle was hired to do the games solo.

“It’s not just by yourself for a game or two; it’s 82 games plus preseason plus playoffs,” Eagle said. “That part was the most daunting where I looked at it and it’s like, ‘How am I going to fill an entire game alone?’ Now I look at it and laugh that I was even ever questioning it because it’s just become second nature.”

Keeping an audience interested and focused on the game throughout the duration of a radio broadcast can be difficult with the amount of external distractions and sources of entertainment available to consumers today.

For Eagle, broadcasting in a city with regular congestion and standstill traffic jams certainly works to his benefit. However, sports are far from the only format on terrestrial and satellite radio – plus there are audiobooks, podcasts and other forms of aural entertainment with which to compete. As a result, Eagle does his best to make the broadcast sound as if there are multiple voices behind the microphone telling the story of the game, almost maintaining different characters.

“Most people that talk to [themselves] get labeled as insane; I get paid to do it,” Eagle remarked. “It’s a pretty good gig [and] I’m lucky [that] I’ve got good people around me. I’ve got a lot of help from engineers and our host Adam Auslund does great work.”

When Eagle was broadcasting within the auspices of a college radio station, the broadcasters were often relegated to locations with vantage points that were not always the easiest to work with. A part of Eagle’s development, therefore, was to find other ways to see the game and depict what was going on to the audience.

Although the vantage points for NBA broadcasts are usually better than those at the college level, they do not all have an unimpeded view of the game. Oddly enough, it gives Eagle somewhat of an advantage over more seasoned broadcasters placed in a similar situation – as he is not too far removed from participating in college broadcasts.

“[In] my first year, I was still so conditioned in that it was like second nature,” Eagle said. “Now I’ve only gotten better with it because I know…. you have to rely on all those tricks that you had learned for yourself over the years.”

Attempting to humanize the game on the court is part of how Eagle has contributed to the rapid and sustained growth of the game of basketball, helping the sport dominate the conversation whether or not games are on the slate. He has also helped foster lifelong connections between the players and the fans both as a radio broadcaster and host of several events for the team.

“Basketball has been a passion of mine since I was a kid,” Eagle said. “Being around the NBA and my dad from a very young age helped spark that love for the game. I played it as long as I could through high school and I was around it as much as I could be.”

Social media permits the real-time transmission of the game through highlights, which generally get posted right away. It is the broadcasters, though, who provide the soundtrack to the moments on the screen mixed with the mellifluous tones of a zealous crowd. Eagle remembers the excitement of his first regular season broadcast with the Clippers in a matchup against the rival Los Angeles Lakers; in fact, he took his headset off to look around and take in the atmosphere at Crypto.com Arena, simultaneously adjusting to his new home court.

“The one good thing… of me starting when I was so young is they’re used to that in L.A. They’ve had a lot of people do that,” Eagle said. “….I think people were just looking forward to what my career was going to turn into – whether that was staying in one spot or doing all these other things. I think people just were there to root [for my] success.”

Now in his fourth season with the team, Eagle has had the chance to call various memorable moments both in the regular season and in the playoffs. With a robust roster including superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, along with a new arena in the Intuit Dome projected to be just a couple of years away from opening, Eagle will provide the dialogue and effectively write the words to all of the action surrounding the team.

It is crucial, though, that Eagle dictates the action rather than letting the action dictate him. Sure, Eagle cannot impact what happens on the court in real time – but what he can do is stay on top of each play, give the location of the ball and try to anticipate what may happen in advance to be ready to make an appropriate call. All of that occurs while being ready to adjust to unforeseen action at a moment’s notice and being authentic in his love of the game and the craft.

“You can sense when someone has control of the action or control or command of the broadcast,” Eagle said. “That’s crucial and it comes with just more and more reps. It comes with practicing and doing it and having a better understanding of, ‘Oh, I need to push it here. I need to pull it back here.’”

Those traits of a play-by-play announcer carry over to announcing gigs outside of the Clippers, although the preparation process differs by sport. Eagle closely follows the Clippers throughout the regular season, making it easier to stay informed about the latest going on with the team down to the minute details.

Conversely when he is broadcasting NFL on FOX games, Los Angeles Chargers preseason games, or college football matchups on FS1, he has to learn the players on the roster, read about the current events of the team, watch press conferences and speak to the coaches to get a broad picture of the team itself.

“I was around the Syracuse football team all the time,” Eagle said. “I knew those guys inside and out; I knew about those guys inside and out. Now you’re preparing for two teams altogether and you’ve got 100 kids essentially on a football roster in college. It’s a lot; there’s a lot more work and just a lot more to learn.”

NFL football, according to Eagle, is the sport most optimal for television broadcasts because of its regular cadence established from the opening kickoff. On the other hand, college football teams often play a hurry-up offense, requiring broadcasters to be set for a play to commence at any moment.

It is something Eagle will have to adjust to, as he is reportedly set to become the primary play-by-play announcer for Big Ten football on NBC, according to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post, in which he will work with analyst Todd Blackledge. While Eagle declined comment regarding this news, he did elaborate on the nature of a typical college football broadcast.

“I worked with Mark Helfrich this year and when he was at Oregon…. They were getting right back to the line,” he said. “They were going to just keep going; they were as conditioned as they possibly could be, and they were going to score on you and they were going to go for two [points] and that was that. It can be really, really exciting but you have to be ready.”

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Noah Eagle has called each of the NFL broadcasts that have aired on Nickelodeon Photo provided by Eagle

Aside from standard football broadcasts, Eagle has been the voice of the NFL on Nickelodeon alternate broadcasts produced by CBS Sports. He recently broadcast the Christmas Day matchup between the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. – and he was joined in the booth by Nate Burleson and various Nickelodeon sitcom stars.

By following the shrewd advice of Syracuse alumnus and sportscaster Marty Glickman regarding considering the audience, he prepares for this alternate broadcast and others like it by thinking about what a typical viewer may want to hear.

“I just think you can now create a different audience,” Eagle said. “Isn’t that we want at the end of the day for sports or any of the stuff that we cover? We want as large or as vast of an audience as possible. If that can create this at all, it’s all good. It’s fun; you just have to approach it [in] the right way.”

Broadcasting sports is considered a “dream job” for many sports fans; yet if you are afforded an opportunity to do that on a regular basis, the law of diminishing marginal utility may start to take effect. Keeping Eagle motivated, outside of loving sports, is finding ways to improve.

“My goal, and it remains the same from when I first got the job [to] today and all the way through the rest of my career, is ‘Can the next broadcast be better than the previous one?,’” Eagle shared. “As long as I’m doing that whether it be with the Clippers or other jobs that I have right now, then that’s all I care about.”

Being a well-rounded person with interests outside of sports and media help Eagle on these broadcasts as well, and it is sagacious advice for young broadcasters. While he had the chance to see broadcasting from a different perspective as the son of an accomplished sportscaster, Noah Eagle enjoys his work and is excited to embark on his career.

At the same time, he treats everyone with dignity and respect, modeling after his father and displaying professionalism in whatever job he may be working.

“If you’re going to do this, do this for the love of it,” Eagle expressed. “Don’t do this for the prestige or whatever else comes with it. Do it because you thoroughly enjoy it because that’s the only way you’re going to reach that height that you eventually want to…. If you’re excited about it and you’re ready to have fun with it, then a lot will take care of itself.”

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BSM Writers

NBC Must Develop a Real No. 2 NFL Crew for Playoffs

Is the network’s only other option Jac Collinsworth and Jason Garrett?

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Several years ago, the NFL objected to NBC wanting to employ Mike Tirico as the lead play-by-play voice for its Thursday Night Football broadcasts. The league preferred Al Michaels because he was NBC’s No. 1 NFL play-by-play announcer and wanted the TNF telecasts to carry the same prestige as Sunday Night Football.

Following the network’s heavily-criticized broadcast of Saturday’s Wild Card playoff game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars, the NFL may want to impose its authority again and insist that a top-tier broadcast team call the action of an important postseason game.

The consensus among fans and media watching Saturday’s broadcast was that Michaels and analyst Tony Dungy were surprisingly low-energy for an NFL playoff game, let alone one that became so exciting with Jacksonville rallying from a 27-0 deficit for a 31-30 victory on a last-second field goal.

Such a lackluster broadcast led to questions of whether or not Michaels was now past his prime after a season of calling subpar TNF games for Amazon and what initially appeared to be another snoozer when the Jaguars fell behind by 27 points. Pairing him with Dungy, who was a studio analyst all season, certainly didn’t help.

Dungy was as basic as a game analyst could be, typically narrating replays viewers could see for themselves while adding little insight. Worst of all, he demonstrated no enthusiasm for the action, leaving Michaels to fill most of the airtime. The veteran broadcaster showed that he can no longer carry a broadcast by himself. He needs the energy and back-and-forth that Cris Collinsworth or Kirk Herbstreit provide.

So how did NBC get here?

Most football fans know that the network’s top broadcast team is Tirico on play-by-play alongside analyst Cris Collinsworth. But they had their own assignment during Super Wild Card Weekend, calling Sunday night’s Ravens-Bengals match-up. With the postseason field expanding from 12 to 14 teams, resulting in six games being played on Wild Card weekend, NBC was awarded one of the additional playoff broadcasts.

Thus, another broadcast team was needed for that second Wild Card game. Fortunately, NBC had a renowned play-by-play man already in place. Michaels finished out his final season as SNF‘s lead voice by calling Super Bowl LVI, part of a powerful one-two combination for NBC Sports coming toward the end of its 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics coverage.

Ending his legendary career with a Super Bowl broadcast would’ve been a wonderful final note for Michaels. That appeared to be a natural path when Tirico moved from ESPN to NBC in 2016. Network executives admitted that a succession plan was in mind for Tirico to take over SNF eventually. At the time, Michaels also likely thought he would retire by then.

But when confronted with the possibility of retirement, Michaels realized he wasn’t interested. He was still enjoying broadcasting the NFL. His skills were still sharp. And perhaps most importantly, he was in demand. Amazon wanted Michaels as the lead voice for its Thursday Night Football broadcasts, bringing instant credibility to a streaming venture that drew some skepticism. ESPN considered him as its Monday Night Football play-by-play man.

As it turned out, ESPN made a bold move for MNF, swiping Fox’s No. 1 NFL crew of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. That left Amazon for Michaels, and the streaming giant paid him a commensurate salary with the top broadcasters in the industry as part of his three-year contract.

Yet Michaels wasn’t done with NBC either. After his agreement with Amazon became official, NBC announced that its relationship with Michaels would continue in an “emeritus” role allowing him to broadcast the network’s Olympics coverage and that additional Wild Card playoff telecast.

NBC can’t have been happy that most of the social media chatter afterward focused on the broadcast, rather than the game result. Especially when the discussion centered on how poorly Michaels and Dungy performed in what turned out to be a thrilling playoff game. That’s a pairing that the NFL probably doesn’t want to see again.

Michaels will likely call at least one more Wild Card playoff game for NBC since he intends to work on the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics. He’s also under contract with Amazon for another two seasons unless he decides to retire before that deal expires. So perhaps the simple solution is keeping Dungy out of the broadcast booth and giving Michaels a better partner.

But can NBC drop in another analyst who hasn’t worked with Michaels all season? Anyone would arguably be an improvement over Dungy. Is it at all possible for Herbstreit to be hired on for a one-off playoff broadcast, thus ensuring that the broadcast team will have some on-air familiarity and chemistry?

Otherwise, NBC’s only other option may be its Notre Dame broadcast team of Jac Collinsworth and Jason Garrett. (The network tried that last season with Tirico and Drew Brees, only for Brees to wilt under the harsher NFL playoff spotlight.)

The pair also called USFL broadcasts for the network, so at least there would be familiarity rather than trying to figure each other out during a telecast. Yet Collinsworth and Garrett aren’t terribly popular with viewers. And as with Brees, that crew will face intense scrutiny with a larger playoff audience.

Unfortunately, NBC appears to be stuck here. Unless the new Big Ten broadcast team of Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge gets a shot. That might be the best option! Other than Notre Dame or USFL games, where are the other opportunities for NBC to develop a No. 2 NFL broadcast team? No one wants to put Al Michaels through Chris Simms in the broadcast booth, right?

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BSM Writers

Al Michaels Has Options But He Has To Make a Choice

“It does all of us in the sports industry well to remember 99% of our audience would gladly trade places with us.”

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I don’t ask much out of game announcers; get excited when appropriate, get the simple information correct, don’t get so caught up in your shtick you put yourself above the game. Al Michaels has been doing all those things well for the better part of half a century and few would argue that he’s not one of the best to ever do it. That doesn’t mean he can’t lose his fastball.

Before you read any longer, I am not here to say Al Michaels has lost his fastball. What I am here to say is Michaels has all too often this season seemed upset with and disinterested in the game he is calling. That isn’t entirely surprising when you consider some of the Thursday night action he called on Amazon Prime where the average margin of victory was almost nine points per game.

On top of that, the Amazon schedule had a dreadful two week stretch with Colts 12-9 win over the Broncos in Week Five and the Commanders 12-7 win over the Bears the next Thursday. It was in that Broncos-Colts game Michaels asked Herbstreit if a game “can be so bad it is good?” Herbstreit’s answer was “No”, by the way. It was the full 15 game schedule that Michaels told The Athletic’s media critic Richard Deitsch was like trying to sell a used car.

All of that is fine, the inaugural Amazon Prime season was not a smashing success. The streaming giant missed audience projections and will lose advertising revenue because of it. The lackluster schedule did not help that. But Michaels was given a second life; he was the NBC play-by-play announcer for the Saturday Night Wildcard Playoff game between the Chargers and Jaguars. It initially looked like Michaels might be the problem as five first half Jags turnovers had them in a 27-0 hole. But the home team staged a nearly unprecedented comeback for the win.

It was the performance by Michaels and, to a lesser degree, his analyst Tony Dungy that has led to criticism. Criticism might be too soft of a word, Michaels was roundly dragged for his lack of enthusiasm during the comeback and specifically on his call of the Jacksonville game winning field goal. The enthusiasm of the call of the game winner had a mid-3rd quarter of week four feel to it.

Me telling Al Michaels how to do play-by-play of an NFL game would be the equivalent of me telling a physicist how to split an atom. So, this isn’t just a Michaels criticism, few things bother me more than hearing a game announcer complain about the length or quality of a game as if he’d rather be anywhere else. It does all of us in the sports industry well to remember 99% of our audience would gladly trade places with us.

How many NFL viewers would sit in the seat Michaels, or any NFL announcer occupies, for free? They’d feel like they won the lottery if they also were getting the money those announcers are getting paid to be there. The guy that works a 12-hour Thursday construction shift just to get home and crack a beer for the NFL game probably doesn’t want to hear how tough that game is to announce.

On top of all of that, Michaels was given the gift of one of the wildest NFL Playoff comebacks you’ll ever see and, at times, sounded as if he was completely disinterested in being there. Pro tip: the best NFL announcer in those moments is Kevin Harlan (see: Miami at Baltimore from earlier this season. That has nothing to do with my lifelong Dolphins fandom). Michaels’ lack of enthusiasm was compounded by the exact opposite from Mike Tirico on the very same network for the Bengals-Ravens Wildcard game Sunday night. 

Tirico, like Michaels, has a sterling resume of play-by-play accomplishments. The difference is Tirico sounded like he was having the time of his life on Sunday night. 

To be fair, their two styles are different. Michaels has a very old school, Pat Summerall approach. Summerall, Vin Scully and Dick Enberg came along at a time when announcers were far more likely to let the pictures tell the story. More new school guys like Harlan and Tirico approach it differently.

Look, Al Michaels helped us believe in miracles. His place in the Sports Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame has long since been cemented. Being a hall of fame inductee doesn’t mean your style will forever be accepted by the masses. That leaves you with a few options; you can continue your style and accept or ignore the criticism or you can ride off into the sunset and enjoy the fruits of your decades of labor.

Al Michaels has what we all want; great options. He can choose any of them and be a winner in the game of life. It doesn’t matter if he enthusiastically embraces them, or not. 

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BSM Writers

Bernie Kosar Was the Victim of a Policy That Doesn’t Work Anymore

“The NFL has bigger fish to fry than Bernie Kosar. Hell, it has more pressing issues in Cleveland alone.”

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One week ago, Bernie Kosar lost his job on the Browns Radio Network for placing the first legal sports bet in the state of Ohio. Kosar, just like Jets coach Miles Austin weeks earlier and Calvin Ridley last year, violated a league policy that forbids team employees from placing a bet on any NFL game.

The integrity of the games still matters. The belief that what we are all seeing is being fairly contested is what gives those of us that like to have a little vested interest in the outcome the desire to lay our money down in the first place. I get the league’s discomfort with a coach on the staff of a team in the middle of the playoff hunt making bets. I get its fear of the message it sends to have players making bets.

Roger Goodell and the 32 team owners are well within their rights to object to men that can potentially control the outcome of a game or postseason seeding doing anything that even appears to jeopardize its fairness. Even perceived impropriety can compromise the league’s tremendous value.

But Bernie Kosar doesn’t have that kind of influence on the outcome of a game. He is just a broadcaster and not even a game analyst. He is part of studio coverage.

I am far from the first to point this out, but in 2023, the NFL has three official sports betting partners. Just last week, it approved the first ever in-stadium sportsbook, which Fanatics is set to open inside of FedEx Field. If the NFL is comfortable enough with the reality that its fans like to bet to make those things a reality, then Kosar losing his gig is absurd. It is the result of nothing other than “well, that’s the way we’ve always done it” thinking.

Maybe Kosar was terrible on the radio and the team was looking for a reason to move on. I don’t live in Cleveland and I am not a Browns fan, so I have no idea.

How many times have we heard that NFL owners hired Goodell to “protect the shield”? I’m not even really sure what it means or when it applies anymore. If I had a vested interest in the public perception of the league, I know that I would want someone to do the PR math on this situation.

Bernie Kosar isn’t an addict that can’t watch a game without the high of winning or the emotional distress of losing everything at stake, at least not as far as we know. This was a bet made through an advertising partner, to benefit charity. He even said on his podcast this week that the purpose of making the bet was to generate some money for former players in need of help.

This is like Disney threatening daycare centers with lawsuits for painting Mickey Mouse on a classroom wall. The NFL has bigger fish to fry than Bernie Kosar. Hell, it has more pressing issues in Cleveland alone.

Surely you have seen Garrett Bush’s impassioned rant on the Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show about the obstacles facing Damar Hamlin because of how many hoops the NFL makes former players jump through in order to get some kind of pension.

On January 2, we were all united in our concern for a guy that hadn’t even completed his second full NFL season. We didn’t know if he was going to live, but if he did, we all knew that the NFL had done everything it needed to in order to protect itself from ever having to pay a dime for his medical care. Less than a week later, Bernie Kosar was fired for what amounted to a charity stunt that was meant to raise money and attention to very similar issues.

At both the league level and the team level, there was incompetence that lead to a man unnecessarily losing a gig and to the Browns and the NFL looking horribly out of touch with reality.

Are we acknowledging that people gamble or not? Are we acknowledging there are responsible ways to bet on football and are interested in generating revenue off of it or not? Because it doesn’t seem to me that the same league that just gave the thumbs up to open a sportsbook inside of a stadium is really that concerned with people that cannot affect the outcome of games betting on those games.

Has the NFL come out and said that it is going to cover every medical bill for everyone that has ever played the game? We know that this is a brutal game that leaves a physical and physiological impact on the men that played it. Why would we make it harder for someone that knows that pain to help others do something about it?

I feel awful for Bernie Kosar. Whether he needs the money or not, it is embarassing to be at the center of a controversy like this, particularly because in the NFL in 2023, there is no reason for a controversy like this to exist.

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