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All Al, All the Time
Steve Rushin
May 10, 2004
"It's 97 degrees here, and my toilet's overflowing," Al Michaels says from his home in Los Angeles, in a voice so pleasing that he makes plumbing sound poetic. Instantly familiar, even on the telephone, Michaels's voice is recognized by airline reservation agents before he gives them his name. "Especially when I begin by singing, 'BUM-bum-bum-bum,' " he says, sounding the first four notes of the Monday Night Football theme.
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May 10, 2004

All Al, All The Time

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"I love, love, love, love doing Monday Night Football," says Michaels, his lavatorial catastrophe slipping ever further from his mind. "I still get a tremendous adrenaline rush an hour before the game—the field lights are on, the stadium's filling up—knowing that in 60 minutes a large percentage of the country will be watching."

He calls those games for a nation as divided as it is united by sports. Twenty years ago Michaels ran into Howard Schnellenberger in an airport. Schnells, then coach of the national football champion Miami Hurricanes, told Michaels—at least half-seriously—that the Miracle on Ice was "the greatest sporting event of the century until the [1984] Orange Bowl."

Michaels roars at the memory: "I remember thinking, Boy, all news is local news."

The truth is, there will never be—never can be—another Miracle on Ice. "Now," says the man who called it, "we're fighting guys who have chemical weapons in briefcases. We'll never take on a terrorist organization in a sporting contest."

And so Michaels will never again have cause to utter his most famous phrase. Or will he?

"Every once in a while I do bring it out," says Michaels, sheepishly. There is a long pause, and then he confesses: "It's usually on the golf course. After a long birdie putt."

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