Enjoy Mike Tirico while you can, football fans, because once the regular season starts on Sept. 9 he’ll be sidelined.
The ESPN veteran commentator, who moved over to NBC earlier this year, is calling the “Thursday Night Football” preseason matchup tonight between the Atlanta Falcons and the Miami Dolphins. But he won’t be joining Cris Collinsworth in the analyst booth during the regular season because he wasn’t named in the network’s initial bid.
That has sparked an outcry among fans who grew to love Tirico’s distinctive and enlightening play-calling when he shared duties with Jon Gruden on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”
“It’s an absolute crime that Mike Tirico can’t announce Thursday Night Football. Change your stance,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Mike Tirico’s gonna be awesome calling NFL regular season games on NBC with Cris Collinsworth, whenever it is he’s allowed to do that,” said another.
“So Mike Tirico is good enough to do the preseason?” one fan pondered.
The surprising — and very awkward — turn of events came when the NFL announced on Saturday that it wasn’t going to allow Tirico to do the job that he was lured away from ESPN by NBC to do.
“When we bid out the Thursday Night Games, NBC came to us with an impressive pitch to bring the magic of ‘Sunday Night Football’ — specifically Al and Cris and their production team — to Thursday Night,” the NFL told TheWrap last week. “That was very attractive to us as we look to continue to build on the success of ‘Thursday Night Football,’ and is similar to the deal we have with CBS for their lead broadcast and production team. We came to a contractual agreement with NBC on those terms.”
“Our contract with NBC requires that the Sunday Night Team also do Thursday Night,” the NFL concluded. “It is up to NBC to determine who the talent is for both nights based on those parameters.”
As for NBC Sports, the network said: “We made an agreement to use our team of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth on ‘Thursday Night Football.'”
Tirico was allowed in the NBC booth for the Rio Summer Olympics, of course, but he’ll have to wait another 531 days until the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Here’s what the Twitterverse has to say about the situation: