NFL personalities forced to wear masks while announcing games, not happy about new mandate

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Local regulations forced the NBC Sunday Night Football TV broadcast duo of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, along with colleague Michele Tafoya, to wear masks on the air during the NFL game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers.

At the beginning of show, a somewhat jovial Michaels told the viewing audience by way of explanation that “No we are not auditioning for the Masked Singer. Santa Clara County officials have compelled us to wear a mask during the game, and so that is the story.” When he tossed it to his gamecast partner to introduce himself, Collinsworth joked that “I don’t know who I am.” The subtext, however, seemed to be that neither announcer seemed happy about the masked mandate.

Levi’s Stadium, the 49ers home field is located in Santa Clarita, about 34 miles southeast of San Francisco. Fans are not permitted in the venue at this time because of the coronavirus. The same announcers were not required to wear masks when doing games in Kansas City, Los Angeles, Seattle, and New Orleans this season.

Perhaps taking a cheap shot at President Trump and his COVID diagnosis (it is liberal California after all), Santa Clara County chief executive Jeffrey Smith said that “We wouldn’t want them to end up like the president,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported. It has yet to be conclusively established if wearing or not wearing a mask at certain times is linked to the POTUS’ infection or the others in his orbit who have tested positive recently.

Smith added that facial coverings reduce COVID spread by 50 percent, but that he was unaware that any official compelled Michaels and Collinsworth to don masks.

Al Michaels added later in the broadcast that “We’re good boys, though. We’re going to get lollipops at the end of the game tonight,” and upon signing off, quipped that “We’ll get rid of these things as soon as we possibly can,”

Other members of the NBC broadcast crew were reportedly wearing face shields over their masks.

California public health regulations require, among other things, facial coverings in indoor public places.

“Santa Clara County has seen a total of 21,840 coronavirus cases and 334 deaths since the pandemic began in March. According to Santa Clara County Public Health, the county sees about 102 new cases per week,” Fox News reported.

“Michaels and Collinsworth’s job is to sound as good as possible while announcing a game for millions of viewers, which helps explain part of their frustration. Some people will find the insistence of making announcers who are hundreds of feet from the game wear masks to be excessive. Others will view it prudent and responsible,” the Yardbarker sports website observed.

The visiting Eagles wound up winning the game 25-20, gaining their first victory in the young football season.

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Robert Jonathan

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