NBC Sports has declined ESPN’s initial request to engage in trade talks to acquire Al Michaels, according to sources.
“We look forward to Al completing his contract and calling ‘Sunday Night Football’ games on NBC,” Greg Hughes, an NBC Sports spokesman, told The Post.
ESPN declined comment.
ESPN had put Michaels, 75, atop its list for a potential dream Monday Night booth with Peyton Manning. Michaels has two years remaining on his contract to call “Sunday Night Football,” while Mike Tirico is already set to take over at that time.
Tirico may call more games over the next two seasons and is the new face of NBC, which is why there could be a potential path if NBC Sports executives change their minds and Michaels wanted to explore a move.
While NBC Sports executives have relayed the message to their ESPN counterparts, it can’t be ruled out that the topic could be revisited.
When Michaels was last traded 14 years ago in a deal involving Oswald The Lucky Rabbit, it took months to complete.
Meanwhile, ESPN has begun talks with Manning in hopes of signing him with Michaels or not, according to sources. Manning — who since retiring from playing has spent part of his time turning down networks — has not fully indicated yet if he wants to finally be a broadcaster or not.
ESPN has moved to Manning after not having the opportunity to offer Tony Romo a 10-year, $140 million contract as CBS trumped it by signing Romo for $180 million over a decade.
ESPN has not yet informed Joe Tessitore or Booger McFarland that they will not return to “Monday Night Football.”
Though Tessitore and/or McFarland are not out yet, ESPN has formed several plans as it tries to figure out its Monday Night booth. The Post previously reported ESPN’s interest in Philip Rivers. Rivers has said he intends to continue playing. ESPN passed on Kurt Warner for Jason Witten two years ago, but Warner is a name that can’t be ruled out.
For play-by-play, ESPN could try to look outside its ranks with CBS’ Ian Eagle or Fox’s Kevin Burkhardt. Both are under contract, but are No. 2s on their networks’ NFL play-by-play depth charts, so there might be a more amenable compensation scenario as Monday Night could be looked upon as a promotion. Kevin Harlan, who is CBS’ No. 3 on the NFL and calls Monday night games for Westwood One, could also be considered.
Internally, ESPN has toyed with the idea of a Steve Levy, Louis Riddick and Brian Griese booth, according to sources. The trio did the backend of the Monday Night doubleheader last year. ESPN is hesitant to move Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit from the college game, though it can’t be entirely ruled out.
Internally, Steve Young would fit the mode of a legendary quarterback that ESPN has prioritized, but he has never shown an inclination to call games.
On The Way Up: Turner’s old Players Only as a concept sounded good — until you listened to it. What it missed were point guards — play-by-players and hosts — to distribute and put the analysts in the right position.
Stan Van Gundy has rightfully drawn praise as a new Tuesday night game analyst. He is the coach that TNT’s new boss, Jeff Zucker, wanted. But why has Van Gundy’s transition from ESPN’s studio to TNT’s booth been so smooth?
Eagle is John Stockton-esque, as he continually makes his analysts better.
At YES, he has helped Mark Jackson, Greg Anthony, Richard Jefferson, Donny Marshall and Sarah Kustok reach national network heights.
While Brian Anderson isn’t as good as Eagle on basketball as he doesn’t have the history on the sport or the flash in his personality, Anderson has also been a plus on Tuesdays. He and Jim Jackson have not gotten the acclaim of Eagle/Van Gundy, but they are a big improvement over Players Only.
Meanwhile, TNT did well with its new Tuesday pregame. Shaquille O’Neal has moved up a chair as compared to Thursdays, where Charles Barkley leads. Dwyane Wade has brought star power and has said enough to be interesting. Candace Parker is willing to give strong opinions. In the host spot, Adam Lefkoe is very relaxed, giving off a feeling, especially with his interactions with O’Neal, like he has been there for years.
By the way, Lefkoe will be a new part of the TNT/CBS NCAA tournament presentation, as he will provide studio updates during games.
Clicker Books: Two reviews for the price of one today. The first is “Oscar Charleston: The Life and Legend of Baseball’s Greatest Forgotten Player” by Jeremy Beer. Charleston was perhaps the Negro League’s greatest player before later becoming a successful manager and scout. On the 5-point Papa Clicker scale, Beer’s book receives a 4.2.
Meanwhile, Papa Clicker went to the archives for a tome on Madison Square Garden. “Jacobs Beach: The Mob, The Garden and the Golden Age of Boxing” was recently updated and released in paperback. It is an excellent nostalgia-filled read, earning it 4.55/5 clickers.