On This Date in Sports February 9, 2006: Traded for a Cartoon
In collaboration with the Sportseyclopedia.com
After 30 years at ABC, Al Michaels moves over to NBC to begin calling Sunday Night Football along with John Madden. Michaels and Madden had worked together on ABC Monday Night Football the past five seasons. However, with a restructure, ESPN begins handling Monday Night Football, while NBC, after eight years out of the game, wins the rights to make Sunday Night the premiere game of the week. To lure Michaels to NBC, Universal agrees to give Disney the rights to a cartoon character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
Al Michaels was born on November 12, 1944, in Brooklyn, New York. Michaels grew up a Dodger fan in Brooklyn as his family moved to Los Angeles the same year the Dodgers did. Michaels attended Arizona State studying radio and television production. His first job was choosing women to appear on "The Dating Game." He briefly worked for the Los Angeles Lakers before moving to Hawaii and calling minor league baseball in 1968.
In 1971, Al Michaels got his big break when he was hired by the Cincinnati Reds. A year later, Al Michaels got his first national exposure when he covered hockey for NBC during the Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. He later covered the NLCS for NBC in 1972. Michaels briefly called games for the San Francisco Giants while doing some regional NFL games for CBS. In 1976, Michaels became one of the voices of Monday Night Baseball, often calling the secondary game.
While at ABC, Al Michaels began to become a recognized announcer. His big moment came calling hockey at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, where his call of the Miracle on Ice became one of the most iconic in sports history. In 1983, Al Michaels became the lead announcer for ABC's baseball coverage. In 1986, he began calling games on Monday Night Football. Michaels would call games on Monday Night Football for 20 years.
Following the 2005 season, Monday Night Football was being shifted. The changing market place had Sunday Night Football becoming the premiere game as NBC won the rights and included the right to flex games late in the season. Simultaneously, ESPN, which had Sunday Night Football, was restructuring how they broadcast games on ABC. Disney owned both, and ABC Sports was being transformed into ESPN on ABC. Monday Night games were now to be on ESPN, and John Madden, who worked with Al Michaels since 2002, agreed to move to NBC for Sunday Night.
Al Michaels wanted to move too, but ABC wanted something in return. NBC owned Universal studios at the time. For years they owned the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a cartoon made by Walt Disney before he started his own studio. Disney had sought the rights to Oswald for years, with NBC wanting Al Michaels, the door opened for trade. Al Michaels would be allowed to work for Sunday Night Football on NBC, as Universal, who held Oswald's rights, turned the cartoon over to Disney.