Al Michaels apologized during NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” after making a joke about Harvey Weinstein earlier in the telecast. The veteran announcer said that he regretted “being a little flip” in comparing the New York Giants’ recent struggles to the movie producer’s experience of having accusations of sexual assault and harassment lodged against him.
During the third quarter of Sunday’s game in Denver, Michaels was talking with analyst Cris Collinsworth about the travails of the then-winless Giants, which reached a low point last Sunday when the team lost three wide receivers, including stars Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall, to season-ending injuries, and another, Sterling Shepard suffering a severe ankle injury.
“I mean, let’s face it,” Michaels said, “the Giants are coming off a worse week than Harvey Weinstein.”
Collinsworth guffawed and said, “Only my L.A. guy comes up with that one.” Michaels replied with a chuckle, “All you have to do is read the paper, any paper.”
Later in the game, following a commercial break, Michaels told his TV audience, “Sorry I made a reference earlier, I was trying to be a little flip about somebody obviously very much in the news all over the country, and it was not meant in that manner. So, my apologies, and, um, we’ll just leave it at that.”
Collinsworth agreed that it was best to “move on.”
It may have been suggested to Michaels that he offer an apology by a producer who noted the negative reaction online. It wasn’t just that the announcer was making light of numerous accusations against Weinstein, which go back over 30 years and include allegations of rape, but that he seemed to be minimizing the suffering of the women involved by citing Weinstein as going through a notably rough period.
The 72-year-old Michaels has been the voice of “SNF” since 2006, having done play-by-play for “Monday Night Football” for 20 years before that and announcing numerous Super Bowls, World Series, Olympic Games and other major events. Arguably the foremost TV announcer of his era, Michaels first achieved national prominence for his “Do you believe in miracles?” call as the U.S. men’s hockey team upset Russia at the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Last week, shortly after the Weinstein scandal began unfolding, another NBC show, “Saturday Night Live,” took some criticism from conservatives and others that it appeared to be staying away from jokes about the major Democratic Party donor. This week’s episode of “SNL” featured plenty of humor at his expense, including this line by “Weekend Update” co-host Michael Che: “Weinstein told reporters that ‘we all make mistakes,’ but you assaulted dozens of women. That’s not a mistake, that’s a full season of ‘Law and Order.’ ”
Earlier on Sunday, CBS late-night host James Corden apologized for making Weinstein jokes at a black-tie charity event in Los Angeles Friday. After being criticized by actresses who have accused Weinstein of rape, including Rose McGowan and Asia Argento, Corden said on Twitter, “To be clear, sexual assault is no laughing matter. I was not trying to make light of Harvey’s inexcusable behavior, but to shame him, the abuser, not his victims. I am truly sorry for anyone offended, that was never my intention.”