Al Michaels (above), who will work his seventh Super Bowl as a network television play-by-play man Sunday night, has family ties in Cedar Rapids.
“My son-in-law went to high school in Cedar Rapids,” Michaels said Tuesday at an NBC Sports press gathering. “He’s about Zach (Johnson)’s age. They got matched up when they were both in high school and my son-in-law beat him head to head.”
The lad’s name is Jeff Cohn. He attended Kennedy High School, and had a more prominent prep career in soccer, in which he made the all-Metro squad.
Cohn married Michaels’ daughter, Jennifer. They met when attending the University of Southern California.
“Half the guests were from L.A., half were from Cedar Rapids,” Michaels said.
Seeing “Cedar Rapids Gazette” on my media badge registered immediately with Dan Patrick, also. Patrick is part of NBC’s NFL studio show.
The aforementioned Johnson was a guest on Patrick’s radio show last week because, Patrick said, fellow Cedar Rapidian Kurt Warner’s Arizona Cardinals won the NFC title the same day Johnson won the PGA Tour’s Sony Open.
“I asked Zach who was more popular in Cedar Rapids, him or Warner,” Patrick said. He said, ‘Oh, Mr. Warner is by far.’ I said ‘You’ve won a Masters.’ He said ‘Yeah, but he’s won MVPs and won a Super Bowl.’
“I said ‘I’ll call Kurt next time, I won’t call you, because he’s bigger than you.’ He said ‘Oh, by far.’ “
I told Patrick I thought Johnson might have underselling himself on that matter.
“That doesn’t surprise me with him,” Patrick said, “because Zach’s a good kid. I asked him who he wanted to win. I was hoping he’d say he was a Steelers fan. Didn’t happen.”
In a more serious matter, I asked Keith Olbermann what he remembers when he thinks about last January’s Iowa caucuses. Olbermann, whose primary job is host of MSNBC’s “Countdown,” seemed happy to respond.
Olbermann called Barack Obama’s win in the Iowa Democratic Party caucuses “an extraordinary and significant stop on a very long path that was an affirmation of something I don’t know everyone was confident of.
“In retrospect, and in the future they’ll have to teach this to people, that there was some doubt whether or not middle America would support a non-white candidate for pres of the US to a significant degree, and it here it was.
“It was an indicator that enough people had moved, whether by their own evolution, whether by society’s evolution, or by dint of the urgency of circumstance, had moved to visualize what was best for them with no racial component to it whatsoever.
“Which is really what we’ve all said we wanted. Here it was manifested. It was like here it is, sort of a miniature version of Election Night. Which was, you know, we’ve screwed up race relations in this country for 400 years, roughly. But guess which country was the first of the major Western nations, let alone democracies, to elect and choose an African-American or a man of African descent.
“As tortured a road as it might have been, we got there first.”