When Al Michaels entered the "Monday Night Football" booth for the first time more than 25 years ago, there was no way he could have known what his future would hold. The NFL has never been more popular, the ratings have never been better and the outlook for the upcoming season has never been more optimistic.
Michaels, who now works with NBC for "Sunday Night Football," is in a class by himself. What makes him so good is he does his job so effortlessly in the bright lights of prime time, where his audience is always bigger and more critical.
Michaels recently spoke about the season and what keeps him going at such a high level.
How do you keep NBC's "Sunday Night Football" the top show in prime time?
Michaels » "Our goal the last couple of years -- as we were close -- was to see if 'Sunday Night Football' could be the No. 1 show on television, which it did, and we're thrilled about that. And it's a new goal this year to retain that top spot, and we think we can do it because the NFL is king."
What keeps you going?
"I've loved sports since I was a child, and I've just become more appreciative of everything that's happened. The way football's evolved, the NFL in particular, it's just so exciting. It never gets old. It never gets boring. This is not scripted television. You don't know what the ending's going to be. Every time I show up, I'm excited because of the drama. You just don't know what you're going to see. You're going to go out there, and maybe it's an overtime game and it's phenomenal. It might be a one-sided game, and we'll find some stories to connect the viewer with the game as the game evolves. It's just wonderful. It's reality television. After all these years I can still walk into that stadium and there's a buzz as the crowd begins to file in. And I think the crowd knows that a good part of America is going to be watching, so there's just electricity in that stadium, and it never gets old."
Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Check out his blog, Watch this!, on washingtonexaminer.com.