George Michael Dead at 70

George Michael PhotoThe sportscaster George Michael has died, following a two-year battle with cancer.

Michael, 70, was known nationally for “The George Michael Sports Machine,” a syndicated TV show that ran nationwide for 27 years.

He was a fixture on TV for more than 25 years in Washington, where he was a sports anchor on NBC’s channel 4, producer Matt Glassman said. “George was a pioneer in sports broadcasting,” Glassman said. “He was a gifted interviewer, a master storyteller, and one of the hardest working journalists out there.”

Michael retired from broadcasting in March 2007.

I enjoyed Michael’s show from pretty close to its national debut. Shows like his and ESPN’s “SportsCenter” were indeed revolutionary, even if they’re commonplace and even redundant now in the age of instant information.

Until moving to the area a few years ago, I had no idea Michaels had a DC connection. It’s rather odd to be both a nationally syndicated show host and a local anchor, although probably only from the perspective of today, where those guys make so much money.

It also occurs to me that most people hearing that George Michael died will think it’s the dude from Wham!

UPDATE: Michael’s friend and colleague, Michael Wilbon, has a touching tribute.

[W]hen the phone rang one recent Sunday morning George was in vintage form. He was having a good day and was in full voice, which is to say very loud, jumping from one topic to another. The Redskins stunk, the Wizards stunk, he hated a column I’d written a few days earlier. It was George unplugged, George wanting to know the latest, the same old George who’d just gotten off the phone with The Squire or Abe or Dan, George who hadn’t slept because he’d been watching some NBA game on the West Coast until 1:30 in the morning.

After the conversation ended, my wife asked how George was doing, how he really and truly was. And I told her I had no idea. Like typical men, I didn’t ask and he didn’t tell me. In this case, I didn’t have the courage to ask. He was fabulous in those 30 minutes, like it was 10:50 p.m. and he was minutes from a newscast. And if that was going to be the last conversation we’d ever have — and it was — then that’s the way I wanted to remember George Michael: funny, informed, irreverent, a little profane, always engaged.

[…]

He outworked just about everybody, never conceded stories to newspapers like just about every other TV sportscaster, was at times an insufferable perfectionist and commanded a room no matter who else was in it. Twenty-five years ago, before I began spending Thursdays with George, I walked into a room — I don’t recall the occasion — and there stood Joe Gibbs, John Thompson and Sonny Jurgensen all being hassled in full voice by George Michael. It took awhile before I realized he could do it not because his personality was so outsized, which it was, but because they found him outside of all the showmanship to be credible. They respected him. Even better, they trusted him.Just about everybody did.

FILED UNDER: Obituaries, Sports
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.