HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 07: NBC's Al Michaels prepares for the Sunday night game between the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on October 7, 2018 in Houston, Texas.
Bob Levey | Getty Images

Look, I will always be fond of Al Michaels. He’s an all-time voice. It has been a joy to listen to him for so many years.

But Michaels is losing me now. He has not been good on the call of Giants-49ers on Thursday night. There has been no energy. Weird comments. Botched facts. It is rough.

NOTE: I know what you are thinking. Isn’t this the guy that always defends John Sterling? Isn’t this the guy that, if when you die you get to design your own heaven like that Robin Williams movie, would ask God to have Sterling call every baseball game he listens to in the afterlife? Yes, I am that guy. And no, that does not make me a hypocrite here. Sterling’s passion overcomes any lack of precision. And baseball on the radio is just different.

I thought it was cheap when Michaels got crushed for his performance during the Chargers-Jaguars playoff game last season. It was not his fault he got paired with booth mate Tony Dungy, who is the equivalent of broadcasting melatonin. There have been NPR segments on peat moss farms more lively than Dungy’s analysis. And who cares that he did not hoot and holler when the Jags capped their historic comeback? I would much rather be calmly informed of what is going on rather than have Gus Johnson leave out key details while screaming like a banshee.

But this … this was not a matter of taste. I cannot attribute the internet’s current criticism to a bunch of wannabe Phil Mushnicks on social media. This was just a poor performance. And here’s the thing: I do not not know if it is because Michaels has lost his fastball or because he just does not give a shit. And that makes it even worse.

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I would like to think it is the latter. Because really, no one wants Thursday Night Football except a bunch of owners and league and television suits. It’s a horrible product. I watch it only when I am contractually obligated to do so. And just because Michaels falls in that category does not mean he has to be enthusiastic about it. Besides, he probably has a late reservation in downtown San Francisco and that is his main concern, right?

But … I just cannot imagine Michaels would want to mail it in. The great ones have too much pride. And he will be 79 in a few months. Maybe NBC turned to Mike Tirico at the absolute perfect time and the rest of us in the football-loving world had not picked up on the decline yet. It is sad, but these things happen.

We want to believe Michaels still has it. We really do. But we also think Jeff Bezos should make sure Amazon is working double-time to make sure it has AI John Madden and Pat Summerall ready to take over next fall.

James Kratch can be reached at james.kratch@xlmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.