'Sunday Night Football' Mike Tirico's latest broadcasting endeavor – USA TODAY

  • September 9, 2022

Mike Tirico wouldn’t necessarily call himself a globetrotter, but the way he has been traveling during the past 18 months would suggest otherwise.
Frequent flyer miles and extended hotel stays are part of the job and nothing new for Tirico, who is the voice of NBC Sports and the Olympic prime-time host and now, at age 55, well into his third decade as a broadcaster.
Tirico has been front and center calling and hosting some of the biggest events in the world, from the Summer and Winter Olympics to the Indianapolis 500 and U.S. Open to the Triple Crown horse racing series and Super Bowl 56, all of which earned him the 2022 Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality-Studio Host.
Tirico’s busy year included a stretch in February where he anchored a Winter Olympics show in prime time in Beijing one night before jetting off to SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles to lead Super Bowl coverage for the five-hour pregame show less than 48 hours later. He then flew back across the country and hosted the rest of the Winter Games from NBC Sports headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut.
Through it all, Tirico says now he is refreshed.
“The year has been exhilarating and exhausting at the same time,” Tirico told USA TODAY Sports. “It was certainly the most rewarding stretch that I have had. Every event was great and it was really cool to be a part of it for me.”
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Now, Tirico prepares to assume play-by-play duties from Al Michaels (who moved on to Amazon) for television’s most watched program, “Sunday Night Football,” starting with Thursday’s game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Buffalo Bills. A decade of dominating the ratings and the state of musical chairs in the broadcast booths across every network would make most pause, but Tirico says being a part of so many different events has prepared him for having 20 million viewers listening to what he says.
Tirico said he doesn’t feel any pressure from trying to impress people; the only pressure comes from learning how to improve at his constantly-evolving job.
“I think for all of us each experience helps you with the next time, meaning there are so many different things that take place — whether it’s off the field, cultural, societal — within competition that dealing with athletes in 2022 is a different conversation than dealing with athletes 15 or 20 years ago,” Tirico says.
“So being around so many different sports and so many different individuals just helps you have a broader base for every situation that might come up, or every type of person you might be covering in a specific sport.”
While Sunday Night Football is considered the gold standard, Tirico says it is not necessarily because of the people in the booth. Viewers generally gravitate toward their favorite play-by-play announcers and analysts, but Sunday Night Football presents a different alternative; the schedule usually features the league’s best teams and players.
Of the 21 teams currently on the Sunday Night schedule, only five (Bears, Broncos, Dolphins, Chargers, Vikings) did not make the playoffs in 2021, while four perennial playoff teams (Cowboys, Buccaneers, Packers, Chiefs) are featured three times each.
“I don’t think there is pressure compared to the situation under different circumstances because I have been a part of the last two years of the No. 1 prime-time show,” Tirico says. “I have done eight or nine games on Sunday night. I have done 200 prime-time NFL games in my career. So many of the unknowns get removed very quickly. I don’t see my addition as significantly impacting what the viewers get.
“Everyone on the crew are all longtime friends and people are going to turn on the game regardless. So the familiarity with everyone takes any kind of pressure out of the equation.”
So, what can fans expect from the partnership between Tirico and analyst Cris Collinsworth as SNF goes into its 17th season on NBC?
While every broadcaster has their different styles of calling a game, Tirico says he will let the moment come to him.
“We have own different styles. If it gets you out of your seat and excited and gets you to react emotionally then be that person,” Tirico said. “Know the moment and meet the moment. But if you have seen the NFL, you have seen me on the air. It’s not like ‘Who’s the new guy? And where did he show up from?'”      

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