Legendary broadcaster Al Michaels has come under criticism on social media for his coverage of the suspension of Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson over allegations of sexual misconduct.
Michaels, calling the Steelers-Browns game on Thursday Night Football for Amazon, declined to explain why Watson had been suspended 11 games and fined $5 million during a brief segment on the case coming out of a commercial break late in the second quarter.
Then, after detailing the potential timeline for Watson's return, Michaels noted that many NFL owners weren't pleased with the fully guaranteed record contract Watson secured from the Browns.
“A tremendously controversial deal on so many levels obviously. A lot of the owners around the league weren’t happy about it. And a $230 million dollar fully guaranteed contract for the man who, they hope, is a franchise quarterback.”
Finally, after sideline reporter Kaylee Hartung outlined Watson's treatment plan as part of his suspension, Michaels quipped that the hefty guaranteed salary ought to be enough to ensure Watson "does the things he needs to do."
“Kaylee, if $230 million guaranteed doesn’t motivate you to do the things you need to do, I give up,”
Meanwhile, Michaels' broadcast partner, analyst Kirk Herbstreit, remained silent throughout the entire segment.
On social media, several tweets criticizing Michaels' handling of the segment saw high engagement.
ESPN senior reporter Don Van Natta Jr. criticized Michaels for not mentioning Watson's victims and instead centering the NFL's "billionaire" owners in the segment.
Ashley Colley, an associate producer for ESPN's SportsCenter, said Michaels' commentary was "truly insensitive."
Tyler Greever, a local sports reporter in Louisville, Kentucky, called the segment "garbage."
Many other journalists and fans struck a similar chord: