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Pierce: NBC's Al Michaels is OK with fantasy football — now

Published August 6, 2013 2:37 pm

Sports on TV • Veteran sportscaster grew up rooting for teams, not players
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Beverly Hills, Calif. • If you play fantasy football, NBC sportscaster Al Michaels used to think you were sort of stupid. Well, maybe not stupid. But he certainly thought you were wasting your time.

"It's funny," said the "Sunday Night Football's" play-by-play guy. "I used to look with disdain upon fantasy football when it first started. And said, 'Why are people interested in this thing and not the real game. But I get it now."

So he says. And he's almost convincing.

In Micheals' day, you rooted for a football team, not football players. Oh, you certainly had your favorite players on your favorite team, but a Pittsburgh Steelers fan wasn't hoping that the quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals would have a big day because he was a member of his fantasy team.

That changed when fantasy football arrived. You draft players from across the league for your team and win points in a multi-player competition based on how well those players you drafted do every week.

More than a few people are obsessed with it. FX has a whole series based on it — the comedy "The League." And even Michaels is on board. Sort of. He's not a fantasy footballer himself, "But I'm interested in what people are interested in.

"And I think, actually, fantasy football has helped to increase significantly the interest in the National Football League, at least in terms of keeping people involved and interested in games that they wouldn't normally otherwise watch."

Who would he suggest you try to draft for your fantasy team?

"Just in taking a look at some of the fantasy magazines this year, I guess Adrian Peterson," Michaels said, providing, well, absolutely nothing in the way of an interesting pick.

(Michaels is also under the impression that "all people want to talk about is football" for "the six months that football is not played" because that's what people talk to him about — which might actually have something to do that he calls football games. And he also thinks the Dallas Cowboys are popular because they have a name "that really sings. They're not the Wildcats or Tigers or anything. Maybe Al was having a tough day.)

Cris Collinsworth agreed about Peterson "of course." But NBC's new "Sunday Night Football" sideline reporter, Michelle Tafoya, disagreed because "the Vikings are hoping he doesn't have to repeat what he did last year."

"They want more of a passing game. Adrian would like to get 2,500 yards. I don't think he will."

Instead, she pointed to "up-and-comer" tight end Kyle Rudolph.

"We had the Pro Bowl this last year. He was the MVP. I think with the addition of Greg Jennings to that offense, there may be more opportunities for Kyle Rudolph to get his hands on the football and help out Christian Palmer a little bit."

Collinsworth — who has and will play fantasy football — pointed to a trio of quarterbacks as prime picks.

"You know, the Russell Wilsons, the RG3s [Robert Griffin III], the Colin Kaepernicks who are going to get as many yards rushing as any quarterbacks that have ever played the game," he said. "Probably going to score rushing touchdowns in a way that we haven't seen.

These guys are not just runners, they can throw the football."

Not the greatest of fantasy football hits, but the best we could get out of NBC.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.