REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL
PROFILES BROADCASTING ICON AL MICHAELS,
EXAMINES THE LAWSUIT BROUGHT AGAINST THE NFLPA BY EX-PLAYERS,
INVESTIGATES THE LINK BETWEEN PRO ATHLETES AND GUNS, AND
REVISITS THE RISE IN STAPH INFECTIONS
WHEN IT RETURNS TUESDAY, JAN. 20
REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL kicks off its 14th season when its 142nd edition, available in HDTV, debuts TUESDAY, JAN. 20 (10:00 p.m. ET/PT & 9:00 p.m. CT), exclusively on HBO. With the NFL post-season in full swing and Super Bowl XLIII looming, REAL SPORTS dedicates the first show of the year to four high-profile football stories.
HBO On Demand availability: Jan. 26-Feb. 16
*Call Me Al. Al Michaels has been at the top of his game for decades. Since 2006 he has served as play-by-play announcer for NBC’s Sunday night prime-time NFL package; before that he was the voice of ABC’s “Monday Night Football” for 19 years. For all his football announcing credentials, not to mention being the only commentator to cover the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals, however, Michaels will always be remembered first for his signature call of the USA hockey team’s historic 1980 victory over the Soviet Union at Lake Placid. For this Sports Illustrated collaborative piece, REAL SPORTS correspondent Jon Frankel visits Michaels as he prepares to call Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa.
Producer: Tim Walker.
Al Michaels detailing how calling one hockey game eight years before the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid landed him in the booth for the “Miracle on Ice”…
Al Michaels: “And because I announced that one hockey game, by the time we fast forward to 1980 and they’re making assignments out for Lake Placid, well, let’s see. ‘Keith Jackson has done no games. Frank Gifford has done no games. Howard Cosell has done no games. Chris Schenkel has done no games. Al Michaels has done one game. We’ll put him on hockey.’ And that’s how I wind up with a hockey assignment.”
Jon Frankel: “Dumb luck.”
Al Michaels: “Dumb luck. Absolutely. You look back and go, ‘If that didn’t happen, what happens?’ If I don’t wind up doing that one hockey game, which is one more than any other announcer on the staff at ABC, do I get the hockey assignment in Lake Placid? Probably not. I’m doing the biathlon. And there were no miracles out on the biathlon course that year.”
*Growing Divide. On Nov. 10, 2008, a federal jury ordered the NFL Players Association to pay more than $28 million to retired players after finding the union had failed to market their likenesses properly. While the NFLPA strongly disagrees with the court’s decision and plans to appeal, the 2,062 retired players represented in the case are pleased, feeling the union failed its responsibility to actively pursue marketing deals on their behalf. Now, as the divide between many former players and the NFLPA grows even greater, REAL SPORTS correspondent Frank Deford examines both sides of this case.
Producer: Mike Sullivan.
*Playing with Fire. Over the last few years, a string of attacks on NFL players has brought the issue of professional athletes’ safety to the forefront. As they continue to find themselves and their families the targets of criminal behavior, more and more players are turning to firearms for protection. While many argue that carrying a gun is completely justified and within athletes’ rights, others feel the dangers outweigh the benefits. Correspondent Bernard Goldberg investigates this volatile issue.
Producer: Chapman Downes.
*Sticks, Stones, Now Staph. Rotator-cuff tendonitis, shin splints and torn anterior cruciate ligaments are a few of the commonplace disabilities suffered by athletes. Now add methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus to the list. Because MRSA, a drug-resistant mutation of ordinary staph infections, has recently afflicted some prominent NFL players, the issue is finally starting to get the attention it deserves. Three years after his January 2006 report, correspondent Frank Deford revisits this dangerous and sometimes deadly problem arising in locker rooms around the country.
Producers: Amani Martin, Lauren Gaffney.
The executive producers of REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL are Ross Greenburg and Rick Bernstein; Kirby Bradley is senior producer.