Friday, September 5, 2008

Is Al Michaels a degenerate gambler?

I wasn't planning to post on the Giants-Redskins game. Sure, my NFL week one picks only have a little to do with the Jets, but this made me laugh last night.

Near the end of last night's Thursday Night Football telecast, Al Michaels had a very interesting comment with 7 seconds to go. "Giants up 9, 7 seconds left. The game is over, but some people are still watching pretty intensely."

Who would be watching pretty intensely? Fans who care about the outcome of the game already have their answer. Could he have meant fantasy football owners? Doubtful. After all, if you're watching the first game of the week, praying that Santana Moss can get you a touchdown, you should probably just go to bed.

The only plausible explanation for that quote (and it might not be entirely exact, considering I'm going straight by memory) is that he's talking to the sports bettors out there. With the point spread set between 3 and 5 in the Giants favor depending where you looked, Michaels had to be referring to the possibility of a backdoor cover if Jason Campbell were to throw a last second touchdown.

Giants and Redskins fans might not care except for the final stats, but a last second touchdown, but millions of sports bettors across the world sure did. With over 92 million dollars bet on last year's Super Bowl, sports betting is the multi-million dollar industry that Roger Goodell tries to brush under the rug.

It's easy for anyone to make an account on a sportsbook, deposit some money, and start making bets right away. With NBA referee Tim Donaghy in jail for helping out NBA bettors, and players such as Pete Rose and Charles Barkley getting in various sorts of trouble for betting, it's certainly conceivable that an announcer could gamble on sports. Sports are these people's lives, but they're detached from the actual games themselves, so their gambling would have no outcome on the game itself.

I'm not accusing Michaels of gambling on games he's announcing. He could have just been referencing it, knowing so many people did bet on the game. In that sense, maybe he actually knows he's catering to the audience that's still watching the game.

Also, would it really be that bad if he did actually gamble on his own games? His announcing has zero impact on the game, and he's continued to be an objective enough announcer for so long that it clearly doesn't affect that much. Besides, wouldn't it be fun to have a game announced by two guys with huge bets on the opposite teams? That would be reality television at its finest.

It's hard to contrive a scenario that doesn't connect this innocent quote to sports betting. He was subtle enough about it that only those familiar with handicapping would fully understand, making it sort of an inside joke between him and the bettors. But how inside the game is Al Michaels?


Roger said...

You're right on. Tonight is 10/12, Pats v Chargers, and on the last play, Micheals says, "A few people are interested in this last play." The O/U was 44 and the score total was 40 with New England in the red zone on the last play.

P.S. He seemed very excited when the game ended with a score total of 40.

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