Saturday’s Alabama-Arkansas game (the football game, not the start of the Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros song) will see something for the Crimson Tide that hasn’t happened since 1987; someone other than Eli Gold calling the radio broadcast. Gold, who has called 409 consecutive Alabama games on the Crimson Tide Radio Network since 1988, will see that streak snapped this week. And that’s because he and his wife are isolating at home after both testing positive for COVID-19. Here’s more on that from Mike Rodak of AL.com:
Alabama radio play-by-play announcer Eli Gold announced Thursday evening he has tested positive for COVID-19.
Gold, 66, will miss Saturday’s game at Arkansas, ending what he said was a streak of 409 consecutive football games called for the university. He first started announcing games for Alabama in 1988.
Gold said his wife also tested positive. He hosted the broadcast of Nick Saban’s weekly radio show from home via video conference.
As Rodak notes, this is just the latest hurdle for Gold this year. In November, Gold told AL.com’s Joseph Goodman that he underwent two shoulder replacement surgeries this year and was in significant pain, but was determined to keep broadcasting. And that led to him even travelling by car to Missouri for the season opener in August (when he couldn’t fly shortly after his first surgery), and to him having someone in the booth flip his spotting chart because it’s too painful to lift it.
“I work for the fans and I owe it to them to give them the best as bizarre as the season has been,” Gold said.
…“It’s still very, very early for this type of surgery’s recovery time, so I’m in the very early stages of it,” Gold said last week before calling his first game since the procedure. “But it hurts, and it’s significant. It’s major surgery when they replace your whole shoulder.
…“On top of everything else and all the craziness, I’ve had to deal with that, but you do the best you can,” Gold said. “You play hurt as the players do. I’m no different.
“My bosses have been wonderful. They said can you do the talk show? I said, sure, my mouth isn’t broken. I’ll be fine.”
It’s unfortunate that after all that perseverance through pain, Gold’s streak is going to end thanks to COVID-19. But that fits with a NCAA football season that’s been incredibly impacted by the disease. Huge numbers of games (129 as per CBS Sports’ latest update) have been cancelled or postponed, 22 head coaches (including Saban) have tested positive for COVID-19, and there have been 6,629 reported cases from college athletes (as per a New York Times analysis that notes that that number is likely low). And the latest impact here is the end of a remarkable announcing streak.