Legendary broadcaster Al Michaels emotional after ‘Monday Night Football’ return

After about a year of taking a sabbatical from his job as a sportscaster, legendary broadcaster and ESPN and ABC staple Al Michaels choked up Wednesday night during his return to “Monday Night Football” on ABC.

During the network’s introductory commercial, which paid tribute to Michaels and longtime colleague Don Meredith, the Hall of Fame announcer, 80, broke down in tears, while reading the text of the spot.

“I’m Al Michaels, but that’s also why I don’t take any of this lightly. I never have and I never will,” the sign read. “As we mark the 50th anniversary of that magical night on Monday night, all of us at ABC and ESPN remember Don Meredith for his comedy, his charm, his fun loving personality and most of all, for being a consummate pro, playing for the team, taking the play-calling and coaching, telling jokes and telling great stories.

“But tonight we remember him for one night in Green Bay, 1957. Fourteen hundred and fifty games and many millions of games later, I stand here and I look at a picture of him standing just like those last four or five people in the corner. A guy named Vince Lombardi.”

Michaels later recalled Meredith on the “Howard Stern Show,” and how he became a star playing the Peewee Herman-type comedy figure who often cracked jokes with Meredith.

“(Meredith) was one of the original TV performers and you think of TV people as wanting to be funny or acting and you think you have to know how to play cards or you have to have a sense of humor,” Michaels said. “Well, don Meredith didn’t know any of that. He just knew he was great. I watched him get richer and richer and richer and richer and richer. He was just a great deal for a number of years.”

The special drew high ratings for ABC and ESPN. The “Monday Night Football” pregame show drew an average audience of 12.1 million viewers, while the game itself averaged a 4.4 rating in metered markets, down 26 percent from the previous week’s game, the opener.

Meanwhile, in the first step toward retiring his trademark moustache, Michaels shared a photo of himself in his FOX Sports Sunday studio doing a mock experiment with a paper mache moustache. He teamed up with Phil Simms and Kenny Albert and added a bit of an edge to their predawn work.

“Tonight, in the private booth at 11am,” Michaels wrote on Twitter, “was no joke – I finally finished the 8 weeks I ordered for ESPN’s Movember for 8 minutes and 45 seconds. How I did it? Paper mache. Thank you. Keep up the good work.”

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