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Synopsis

Call Me Al

Al Michaels has been at the top of his game for decades.  Since 2006 he has served as play-by-play announcer for NBC's Sunday night prime-time NFL package; before that he was the voice of ABC's "Monday Night Football" for 19 years.  For all his football announcing credentials, not to mention being the only commentator to cover the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals, however, Michaels will always be remembered first for his signature call of the USA hockey team's historic 1980 victory over the Soviet Union at Lake Placid.  For this Sports Illustrated collaborative piece, Real Sports correspondent Jon Frankel visits Michaels as he prepares to call Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa.

old photo of Al Michaels announcing

Growing Divide

On Nov. 10, 2008, a federal jury ordered the NFL Players Association to pay more than $28 million to retired players after finding the union had failed to market their likenesses properly.  While the NFLPA strongly disagrees with the court's decision and plans to appeal, the 2,062 retired players represented in the case are pleased, feeling the union failed its responsibility to actively pursue marketing deals on their behalf.  Now, as the divide between many former players and the NFLPA grows even greater, Real Sports correspondent Frank Deford examines both sides of this case.

Playing with Fire

Over the last few years, a string of attacks on NFL players has brought the issue of professional athletes' safety to the forefront.  As they continue to find themselves and their families the targets of criminal behavior, more and more players are turning to firearms for protection.  While many argue that carrying a gun is completely justified and within athletes' rights, others feel the dangers outweigh the benefits. Correspondent Bernard Goldberg investigates this volatile issue.

Man firing assault rifle

Sticks, Stones, Now Staph

Rotator-cuff tendonitis, shin splints and torn anterior cruciate ligaments are a few of the commonplace disabilities suffered by athletes.  Now add methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus to the list.  Because MRSA, a drug-resistant mutation of ordinary staph infections, has recently afflicted some prominent NFL players, the issue is finally starting to get the attention it deserves.  Three years after his January 2006 report, correspondent Frank Deford revisits this dangerous and sometimes deadly problem arising in locker rooms around the country.

142: January 20, 2009