So I was watching yesterday’s Green Bay vs. Minnesota NFC Wild-Card game on NBC. In the second quarter, when the game was still close, Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers connected with his third-year tight end Tom Crabtree on a delayed screen pass near the right sideline.  On the play Crabtree leapt over the first would-be Viking tackler who came in low to avoid contact with the 6’4”, 245 pound bruiser.  The play netted 10 yards, and elicited the following exchange between broadcasters Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels.

Al Michaels & Cris Collinsworth
Al Michaels & Cris Collinsworth

“Now we haven’t seen anybody flipped yet in that type of situation,” began the former wide-receiver Collinsworth, “but it’s a dangerous move to try for Crabtree.”

“He wants to be Edwin Moses or Renaldo Nehemiah,” chuckled Michaels.

The Packers went on to an easy 24-10 win to advance in this year’s NFL Playoffs.

But I sat there thinking, ‘I know Al Michaels is a track fan. In fact, he was the lead ABC track announcer for the 1984 Olympics. But is this the state of track and field in 2013, that even after an Olympic year when the USA totalled 29 medals we have to go back thirty years to make a track reference that the public will understand?’

Michaels didn’t toss around the names of current intermediate and high hurdle Olympic kings like Felix Sanchez or Aries Merritt. Can you imagine? And this is after Merritt had one of the greatest high hurdle seasons in history, culminating with his astonishing 12.80 world record, and New York-born, USC-educated Dominican Sanchez won his second Olympic gold medal to go along with two World Championships golds.  In other words, neither man was an unknown in the world of track & field (athletics).

Now if Al or Cris would have tossed out Usain Bolt’s name when Viking’s star running back Adrian Peterson carried the ball, that would’ve made sense, since Peterson has deluded himself into thinking he could beat Bolt in a sprint.  But think in terms of track’s penetration into the general sporting consciousness when the only names from track that spring to mind for a mainstream network commentator come from the 1980s.

Should it matter?



  1. t-bone,

    Yes, I was aware of Nehemiah’s f’ball connection, and Edwin’s long dominance. Even so, they were both in the public eye a lot more often in those days than men like them are these days. Part of that is the fragmentation of society, but part of it, too, is the hopeless mess track has made of itself since those days.

  2. You know that Nehemiah played football briefly, right? (Niners?) And Edwin Moses, come on, he ruled the long event for years.

  3. Sounds like Al stopped following track closely after LA `84. So his references are caught in that time bubble. A Bolt vs. Adrian Peterson competition – once on f’ball field, again on the track, and a third time on a neutral ground – would be the kind of exhibition that might create a small buzz for track. Who’s the best high jumper in the NBA? I’d like to see that.

  4. If I remember correctly, Al Michaels was with ABC when they last broadcast the summer games in LA 1984. So he is probably most familiar with the stars of that era.

  5. Toni, you and I have talked about his before, and you know I agree! But you, yourself, regularly refer to the great runners of yesteryear. Is this the pot calling the kettle black a little bit? Now, to your credit, you would have named the current stars like Usain Bolt right in line with the stars of three decades ago. But I do think this is the state of track and field in terms of the football/basketball audience, and you should be smiling that Al didn’t say Dick Fosbury, I mean, at least he got the event right . . .


  6. Toni,
    When I heard the comment, I had the exact thought you had. No mention of Sanchez or Merritt.

    Cy Quinn

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