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TVWeek.com welcomes a sports newscasting legend to its ranks of bloggers with the introduction of George Michael, who is providing ground-level access to the sights and sounds of the Super Bowl. Mr. Michael has established himself as master of the sports journalism craft, and his blog will provide insights on how to cover athletics that readers won't find anywhere else.

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George Michael


Countdown to ‘Sports Machine’ Finale

March 15, 2007 6:12 PM

As we countdown to the wrap of “Sports Machine,” we’ve been working on setting up our show’s finale and going through our entire library of tape pinpointing key moments from our show to re-air.

Boy is that a tough job. What do we include? What do we delete? There is so much for us to review and we want to make it good so people will enjoy it. I’m proud though that we’ve been able to get so much footage as we’ve always been able to get athletes to give us what they were really feeling at the time, not just canned quotes.

One clip I want to put it was from when I spent a lot of time with NFL great Walter Payton. Another one that jumps out at me was an interview I did with NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt. That was just after John Elway had finally won his first Super Bowl and Dale wanted to look at the tape of Elway where he was running for a first down and the look on his face was clear “I don’t care if I get killed, I’m going to make this first down.”

After never winning Daytona, Dale said to me on camera, “I don’t care what happens, I’m winning this race.” He then went out there and did it. It was incredible!

Other interviews were looking at showing include baseball great George Brett just after he won the World Series, and Wayne Gretzky right after he first became a pro. I’m telling you, if you look at him today compared to when he was a kid, he hasn’t changed at all.

I’m telling you, now that I don’t have to work the NCAA tournament, I realized that now I’m actually going to have to lay money out to watch the games. Needless to say, I turned out the credit card and now for once I get to sit back and enjoy March Madness without having to thing about what we should be doing for the news or the show.

I’m going to like this.

Reflections

February 27, 2007 6:39 PM

Here I am in my last full week as far as being a local guy, with only four more "Sports Machines" to go. Lately I’ve had various things being sent to me from guys who have appreciated my career and some surprising opportunities as well.

One of the most surprising and terrific mementos I’ve been given was at the Daytona 500. When I was in Florida covering the race, Mike Helton, president of NASCAR, stood up in front of the drivers and said “We have a fine gentleman here, he covered NASCAR before anybody know who we were.” He then presented me with a racing helmet signed by all the drivers at Daytona who were in the race. That shocked me that he would do something like that, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

As a sports journalist, I’ve always been appreciative to them for all the time and stories they have given me over the years.

I was later approached by David Hill, president of DirecTV Entertainment, who offered me the opportunity to announce NASCAR races with racing legend Darrell Waltrip. So I have a wonderful opportunity in front of me that I am really looking forward to. I may also get an opportunity to announce some bull riding with the Professional Bull Riders, Inc., although that is not a done deal yet.

Yesterday I had the good fortune to be with University of Maryland head coach Gary Williams just after his basketball team upset the number five team in the nation.

I tell you, everything just feels good right now. This is a delightful way to wrap.

Meeting the NASCAR Pros at Daytona 500

February 12, 2007 6:40 PM

I’m here in Daytona getting ready for the NASCAR’s biggest event.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down on our show with Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb while at the Super Bowl, now I’ve had the chance to speak with Jaguars QB Byron Leftwich. He’s a terrific guy with a long history of success and inspiring people both at Marshall and in professional football. However, I think he’s become disillusioned with the NFL -- one day he’s the team’s unquestioned leader guiding his team toward the playoffs, now there’s talk that the Jaguars are looking to trade him. We managed to get from him the one team he would not play for should he be traded to them.

That’s what we at the “Sports Machine” are all about. We get these guys to trust us with their stories.

Yesterday at Daytona, our crew was focusing on the big race. I had a terrific meeting with Tony Stewart for the show. For people who don’t follow NASCAR, Tony, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson are the four heavyweights in that sport. Anyway, Tony is one of my dearest friends and it was clear that it was so important for him to win this race. He would give up everything he’s done down here just to win the Daytona 500.

We are also interviewing James Hylton, who is 72 years old and about to become the oldest driver to ever participate in this race. This comes 41 years after his first race at Daytona and a guy who hasn’t even been in a race in 20 years. He’ll be participating Thursday in the qualifying races and hopefully will get in the big one if he does well.

Byron, Tony, James Hylton. That’s the epitome of what we’re all about, getting great stories with people like them.

A lot of people have been upset that Art Monk wasn’t elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He’s a guy that I believe should be in there, but Art didn’t have the spectacular catches in the post-season that voters love to see. I really thought this would be his year, I could make some great arguments for him being in.

I was also surprised to see (former NFL commissioner) Paul Tagliabue not get in this year. However, I think maybe he has alienated some members of the media over the years through some of his policies and that may have hurt his chances.

A lot of people don’t like the voting procedures for the Hall of Fame because they are upset at their guys not getting in. I think the voting procedures are fine. There are very good conscientious people who cover football all the time, know the history of the game, and make some tough decisions for the Hall of Fame. That’s a rough job for anyone.

Access to Athletes Not Always So Super

February 5, 2007 12:07 PM

Feb. 1 Notes:

What’s life like when you walk out of your hotel in South Beach during Super Bowl week?

We had only walked 25 feet from our hotel last night when we saw (Washington Redskins running back) Clinton Portis standing on the sidewalk talking to a group of friends and admirers about his injury rehab. We were then standing around the street corner when up comes (former Redskins running back and Hall of Famer) John Riggins.

Riggins rarely talks about his career in the NFL, but that night he opened up. He said that his career had never been anything special until he got to the Super Bowl. He noted that the night of that game everything seemed vibrant and everything was in tune. On gameday, he wasn’t overly excited but ended up becoming the game’s MVP and on his way to legendary status.

Only at the Super Bowl on the street of South beach in Miami can you get these kinds of stories.

Today there have been a lot of storms in central Florida. Everybody here seems to be in a party state of mind but those of us in the news know that the NFL doesn’t want anything like that coming around here.

I’ve noticed that a lot of television station reporters are having a hard time getting access to some of the key players for interviews. Not us, of course, because we are lining up some terrific guys. But I think the NFL is making a serious mistake curtailing so much of the press access away from stations to take care of the NFl Network. They are alienating a lot of people. If you are a TV station and want access but can’t do it because they are locked up with the NFL Network, you have got to be angry and I think it’s a big mistake on the NFL’s part to alienate them

We are heading back to D.C. tomorrow to get ready to tape our show but field reporter Andrea Brody and my co-host Lindsay Czarniack will stay. We’ve already lined up fantastic interviews following the big game for them and I think our fans are really going to be happy with what we’ve got planned.

Super Bowl, Super Party

February 5, 2007 12:06 PM

Jan. 31 Notes:

Last night, I took the whole crew out to Joe’s Stone Crab. When we got there, sitting across from us was Peyton Manning’s wife eating with his father, Archie Manning. We immediately got together and started discussing the game. Where else but the Super Bowl can you go to do that?

Suddenly, in walks Ron Meeks, defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts, and suddenly we’ve having a two-hour football seminar, talking about how you play Peyton, how you play the Ron Meeks defense.

I turned my head and said to Sonny Jurgensen, the price of admission to be able to do this is worth the whole trip. Just being able to talk defense with them, even for those few moments, was really, really neat. I absolutely love Peyton. His mom Olivia is a spectacular southern hospitality woman. What a great event!

The Super Bowl, and I don’t mean this negatively, has become one major party. It literally dwarfs the NBA all-star game. Just standing in front of our hotel last night, it was one person in the industry after the other. No where else in the world will you find this many people from the sports industry.

Here we are just trying to get work done, whether it’s interviewing Donovan McNabb or speaking with Doug Williams, but literally everyone is throwing a party. Corporate sponsors, in particular, are all trying to outdo each other and every corporate person you can imagine are all here for the event.

That’s what makes the Super Bowl a special kind of trip.