Saturday, February 11, 2006

Al Michaels to NBC for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and a Talking Duck to Be Named

Brian

Eric B of Major League Idiot notes the unorthodoxness of ESPN, proud new owner of Monday Night Football, trading announcer Al Michaels to NBC for the rights to a pre–Mickey Mouse cartoon rabbit:
ESPN is trading Al Michaels to NBC for partial Ryder Cup coverage, Olympic highlights, Notre Dame highlights, and the rights to Oswald, a cartoon created by Walt Disney in 1927 as a precursor to Mickey Mouse. There are rumors that the two sides originally talked about an expanded deal that would also have included La Bamba from Conan O'Brien, six episodes of Scrubs, and the rights to the Peacock going from NBC to ESPN, with ESPN sending Chris Berman's repertoire of nicknames, every third Bill Simmons column, and a year’s subscription of the Mag to NBC. That part of the deal stalled, however, when the sides couldn't agree on whether NBC would get all of Berman's nicknames or just all football names, as well as when ESPN demanded that the expanded version include NBC taking Woody Page off their hands. Therefore, the sides kept it simple and traded a broadcaster for golf coverage and a cartoon rabbit. Yeah. You couldn’t cook this up if you were on LSD.
Link. But according to the Dallas Morning News's Barry Horn, the hilarity belies the real dynamic that prompted the trade:
Michaels begged out of a new contract with ESPN to move to NBC. If Al Michaels was named Terrell Owens, the sports world would be howling at the callousness of the move. It will be interesting to hear Michaels have to hush up on Sunday nights whenever the topic turns to player contracts.

. . . .

To save face, ESPN negotiated away the rights to Oswald, a worthless but sentimental-to-Disney cartoon rabbit, and the right to pay NBC $12 million for Friday coverage of the next four Ryder Cups.

ESPN had big plans when it agreed to pay the NFL a whopping $1.1 billion per season for Monday Night Football. Michaels was part of those plans.

Instead, the plan now includes a junior varsity broadcast crew - Mike Tirico, Joe Theismann and Tony Kornheiser.

Link. What really matters, though, is how great Oswald would look on a watch.

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Image credits: (1) "Al Michaels," courtesy the American Sportscasters Association, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes; (2) "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit," courtesy disneyarchief.nl, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

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