During the Baltimore-New England AFC Divisional Playoff game yesterday, Al Michaels read a statement in regards to the Mueller Report which said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did not lie about seeing the Ray Rice tape.
As you can hear from Michaels’ read, he tried to speed through the statement:
It’s obvious Michaels was instructed to read the statement with the Commish on camera, however, hearing Al and Cris Collinsworth say the issue helped to make domestic violence part of the national discussion and talking about Goodell’s integrity saying he came out well in the report certainly didn’t help matters.
It led to some swift reaction on Twitter especially from a person who is known for tweaking the Commish.
I like Collinsworth and Michaels but come on. That was like listening to Michael Cole and JBL praising Vince McMahon.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) January 10, 2015
Again, it’s easy to pile on Michaels’ logic as did many on Twitter, and the subsequent discussion by him and Collinsworth after the statement did not come off well. It was obvious that the network and the league wanted the script read and Deadspin has footage of Michaels consulting with his producers off-air about when he should read the statement.
The partnership between leagues and networks sometimes lead to murky situations especially during times of work stoppages when rights fees get paid even when no games are played. To have NBC promote the league’s agenda is nothing new. We see the league’s TV partners air promos for the NFL’s charitable causes, the NFL Network and other issues. But to have announcers read statements on behalf of the league makes them sound like shills when fans want to spend time watching the game.
Perhaps the league could have had Goodell or one of his PR spokesman read the statement in a separate promo. To have Michaels read it and then lead into an awkward discussion, it made for some cringe-worthy television early during Divisional Weekend.