During NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast—a game between the Super Bowl XLIX-losing Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers—I was pleasantly surprised when play-by-play announcer Al Michaels dropped some Yiddish on the viewing public.
Just before the end of the first half, with Green Bay driving deep into Seattle territory, Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers threw to wide receiver James Jones in the end zone. Jones made a nice catch and was able to keep his feet in-bounds, but it appeared that his tushie hit the ground out-of-bounds before he was able to secure the ball—a no-no by NFL rules. So, as the refs checked the replay booth, Michaels and his color guy Chris Collinsworth provided viewers with their own analysis.
Now, look. I have no audio evidence of this, but anybody who watched the game heard Michaels—who grew up in Brooklyn and is apparently Jewish—drop some Yiddish in order to clear up any doubt of whether or not the Packers had actually scored a touchdown (they hadn’t). The reason? According to Michaels, it was clear that Jones was out-of-bounds by “half a tuches, what can I tell you?” (He later called it a “buttock.”)
And the mildly-censored butt stuff got even weirder from there: in making the official announcement, even the referee refused to call a spade a spade. Instead, the zebraman said that “a part of the receiver’s body touched out of bounds.”
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.