LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Mike Tirico is leaving ESPN and ABC Sports this summer when his contract expires to work for NBC, a person familiar with the move told The Associated Press on Monday.READ MORE: Amazon Scammers Stole Over $27M From Consumers In A Year
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because neither network had made an announcement about the broadcaster. SportsBusiness Journal was first to report the news.
Tirico began working at ESPN in 1991 and became its “Monday Night Football,” play-by-play announcer a decade ago.
He seamlessly transitions to calling action for major golf and tennis tournaments, NBA and college basketball and college football.
“He never seems to get flustered or rattled,” former broadcast partner Joe Theismann once said. “He’s incredibly smooth.”
Tirico was part of a new-look broadcast as “Monday Night Football” moved from ABC — its home for 36 seasons — to ESPN.
“If I’m doing my job, I’ll be like an offensive lineman or an official,” Tirico said in 2006 during an AP interview before making his “Monday Night Football,” debut. “You’ll know I’m there, but you won’t really notice me.”
Tirico, Keith Jackson, Frank Gifford and Al Michaels have been the play-by-play voice of the signature TV show, and the latest broadcaster wasn’t comfortable being part of the elite group of broadcasters.
“I’m only on that list because we have the same title,” Tirico said a decade ago. “I hope I can earn my place with those guys down the road because they’re among the best in the business
“In your wildest dreams, you hope to do things. This is not one of those things you would even put in your wildest dreams.”
Tirico began a path to his dream job in Queens, New York, where he was raised by his mother and grandparents, near Shea Stadium, the former home of the New York Mets. Tirico said he was baptized the same day as the first Super Bowl, Jan. 15, 1967, when he was a month old, and grew up having a life that revolved around sports.
“My mom’s brothers took me to a lot of Jets and Mets games,” Tirico has said. “Meals revolved around football games.
“If the Jets played early, we ate late. If they played late, we ate early.”READ MORE: Supply Chain Issues: 'There Really Are Problems Everywhere,' Even For Small Companies
Tirico recalled listening as a kid to Marv Albert, who at the time was the voice of the Knicks and the Rangers.
“When I was 11, I wanted to be a broadcaster for a team,” Tirico once said. “I thought that would be the pinnacle.”
Tirico attended Syracuse, getting financial help from an uncle and a $2,000 Bob Costas Scholarship, and became one of the first in his family to graduate from college in 1998.
“When you’re at Syracuse, you’re surrounded by people that want to do what you do and it prepares you for the competition we have in this business,” Tirico has said. “The college radio station was our fraternity.”
A few years after graduating, he was hired by ESPN to be a SportsCenter anchor and went on to host NFL and college football studio shows for the cable network and established himself as a fixture on ESPN Radio.
Tirico is an avid reader and research hound, who makes lists of lists, and acknowledges he’s more likely to watch C-SPAN than ESPN. He has a preparation book, which includes key concepts and words, but doesn’t have a script in front of him during games.
“If you get stuck on specific words or things you wanted to say, it sounds rehearsed,” Tirico once said. “We’re judged on a 3 1/2-hour game, but I push myself more in the preparation process.”
Tirico’s life away from the booth is in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he lives with his wife and their two children.
AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed to this report.
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