Michael Holley on The Awful Announcing Podcast with host Brandon Contes. Michael Holley on The Awful Announcing Podcast with host Brandon Contes.

Michael Holley would welcome a return to Around the Horn, saying his exit was not on his terms.

Appearing on the latest edition of the Awful Announcing podcast, the NBC Sports Boston host said that he was really stung by some bad Around the Horn news when he first got to WEEI. He told host Brandon Contes that they wanted him to continue, and this was after I, Max, had gone away around Jan. 2005.

“I remember one of my first appearances back at Around the Horn, and I made a joke about it on the air,” Holley recalls. “When I left Around the Horn, I had these long dreadlocks; when I came back, my head was shaved. So, in the time I went from ESPN to Fox, I shaved my head and all this stuff. So, I came back and was like, ‘Guys, I had this bad dream that I went to another network, I shaved my head; I don’t know, I’m back.’ And they all laughed; it was just a way to make fun of the very short stint at Fox.

“So, I was back doing Around the Horn. It was cool. WEEI comes up, the job at WEEI. So I’m done with Fox. I’m starting at a local sports radio station in Boston, and I asked the program director at WEEI, ‘Is it OK if on Fridays, I do Around the Horn? Maybe leave the show at noon?’ It would be great for me to keep doing that and it was great for the station — Michael Holley from WEEI in Boston.

“Nope, rejected it. And so that was it. That was the end of my Around the Horn career. I did not end it on my own terms. I ended it on WEEI’s terms. I loved doing the show, and yeah, I’d be open to doing that.”

Besides hinting at a possible return to Around the Horn, Holley spilled some behind-the-scenes details and juicy secrets about the show. He described ATH as having a certain rhythm, explaining that once you grasped it, the experience became even more enjoyable.

“To me, it was have two points in your pocket and a rebound,” he explained. “So, always have two points in your pocket. ‘OK, I’m gonna make this point. I’m gonna make this point. I’m gonna give it up. Here it goes. It may come back to me. Here’s my rebound point; next topic.’ So there’s like a little rhythm in your head, just like this internal clock. And my winning percentage is still up there…it’s pretty good.

“But the people were fun. I was doing it with the Globe people at the time: Jackie MacMullan, Michael Smith, and Bob Ryan. In L.A., Bill Plaschke was participating, and [Jay] Mariotti was doing it from Chicago. [J.A.] Adande was very good at it, as was Tim Cowlishaw. Some of these people are still there, and I think I also did shows with hosts like Max Kellerman and Tony Reali.

“It was a really fun show to do. And it used to blow my mind how many people would watch it. I remember working at the Globe, but still doing Around the Horn. So, this must’ve been 2003 right before the Patriots’ second championship, and my assignment was to put the Patriots in historical context. At that point, they had a 14-game winning streak, and they won the Super Bowl…so they had me calling some great coaches for context. I remember calling up Don Shula…’Oh, I know who you are.’ I said, ‘Coach, I don’t think we’ve met before.’ He said, ‘I see you every day on Around the Horn.’

“Wait a minute, hold on. Don Shula’s watching Around the Horn? What the hell’s going on here? But you’d go into locker rooms and other people would tell me the same thing. If you had a reporting background — and you weren’t just caught up in the celebrity of it — it was very valuable. Because people would recognize you, but as a reporter you’d get information that would be helpful to your day job.”

Recalling an anecdote from his Around the Horn days, Holley described covering a Titans-Ravens playoff game. Tennessee won the game, setting up for a face-off against the Patriots in Foxborough. However, a hush had fallen over the team. No one, not even the media, was mentioning the nagging injury that Eddie George, the Titans running back, was battling.

Recognizing Holley from Around the Horn, George invited him into the training room for a one-on-one conversation. There, George spilled the beans about all his injuries, offering Holley a level of transparency absent elsewhere.

“I’m sure people who do it now, they have lots of stories,” Holley said. “It’s not just athletes. You’ll find athletes, musicians, academics — like these platforms are so powerful, nobody should ever take them for granted. I know I don’t. It’s just a great way to communicate with people. If you do it the right way, you can really have a lot of fun with it.”

And while Holley had a lot of fun with it it, he hated debating Jay Mariotti.

“Mariotti was fine. And there’s some people like this in the business, they’re fine when you’re talking to him off the air,” he said. “Like, Mariotti was normal off the air, but then he’d go on the air, and he would just take things personally. Like he’d get mad; he would really get mad.

“A lot of us, we knew the whole gig of ‘Hey, you’ve been frozen or you’re off the show.’ And maybe I shouldn’t be saying this, but a lot of it is already predetermined. I don’t know if you know that a lot of it is predetermined.

“So, if I had a flight to catch that day, I might be out in the first round. So, everybody knew it was just fun. But sometimes he’d get eliminated, and he’d be pissed. And the producers were saying, ‘Hey, I think Mariotti’s really mad.’ And I was like, ‘Don’t worry about it. He’ll be fine.'”

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.