MEDIA COLUMN: A SUPER BOWL TV PRIMER
If you thought Super Bowl pregame shows already had reached their maximum limit in volume and excess, guess again.
Between NBC, NFL Network and ESPN, there were be 18 (18!) hours of live pre-Super Bowl programming on Sunday leading up to the 6:29 p.m. kickoff, on top of the dozen of cable hours spent blabbering about the game earlier in the week. (If you choose to watch a lot of this, make sure you have extra remote control batteries and easy access to caffeine.)
When NBC’s Bob Costas appears in our living room at noon, it will mark the earliest time that the network televising the game has begun live Super Bowl coverage.
Costas will then send viewers off to NFL Film’s taped Road to the Super Bowl, before resuming NBC’s live broadcast for good at 1 p.m.
When Costas hosted his first two-hour Super Bowl pre-game show in 1986, “We thought it would be too long.”
And now? “I wish we had 10 hours!” NBC’s Tony Dungy said.
Costas - who will be joined by a large cast including Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Doug Flutie, Dan Patrick, guest analysts Aaron Rodgers and Hines Ward, among others - assures, “I’ll try to do my best to make it good.
“My job is to try to set the scene, much of which will speak for itself. Even with all the talk and hype on every network prior to the Super Bowl, we will have elements others don’t: extensive sit-down interviews with Tom Brady and Eli Manning,… an interview with Madonna, who will be the halftime performer. It’s our job to present fresh and engaging material that people haven’t already been beaten over the head with for two weeks.”
Expect the usual mix of football talk and light-hearted fare, some of which elicits eye-rolling --- including Fox’s nauseating 2011 red-carpet interviews with celebs, many of whom who knew little about the sport. Actor/comedian Nick Cannon will handle that gig for NBC on Sunday, reporting from a “Super suite.”
“There’s a good blend of segments of interest to avid fans and the casual viewer,” Costas said. “But if you’re going to be on the air for six hours, by definition, there is some excess no matter how you do it. There has to be a winking at the audience that some of this stuff is not everyone’s cup of tea.”
Among NBC’s pre-game offerings: Matt Lauer’s conversation with President Obama; Costas’ interviews with Brady, Madonna and Roger Goodell; Dan Patrick querying Manning; Dungy’s chat with Giants coach Tom Coughlin and Giants receiver Victor Cruz; Harrison’s interview with Patriots coach Bill Belichick and an in-home profile of former teammate Vince Wilfork; and Al Michaels’ sit-down with Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Other features on tap: NBC visits the hometowns of five players (including Brady and Manning) and talks to the people who made an early impact on their lives, such as coaches, teachers and a priest. Peter King has a piece on former Saints player Steve Gleason, who’s battling ALS disease. There will also be performances by The Fray and Lenny Kravitz, and the obligatory cooking segment.
“Towards the four and five o’clock hour, you will see it become a very football-centric show,” NBC Sports president Mark Lazarus said.
And this could be good: Former Giants receiver David Tyree will make a live visit to NBC’s set to talk with Harrison about Tyree’s incredible catch (over Harrison) that was the most memorable play in the Giants’ late Super Bowl-winning drive against the Patriots in 2008.
“My heart is with the Patriots, but I’m the same guy who said I would take Eli Manning in the fourth quarter instead of Tom Brady,” Harrison said. “If it means criticizing my former team, I’ve never been shy about doing that. If you put pressure on Tom and force him to his left, you can rattle him. As much as I love Tom,… Tom is not Superman.”
### Michaels, 67, will be announcing his eighth Super Bowl and his first alongside Cris Collinsworth, who has called one Super Bowl for Fox.
“We’re used to the national platform, the big stage,” Michaels said. “You don’t want to insult the intelligence of the people who watch football all the time. But I might say from time to time, ‘If you follow the game, you know this…’”
### Collinsworth, 53, spent the 2008 Giants-Patriots Super Bowl sitting in the stands, where he was heckled by some Giants fans because he predicted the Patriots would win.
“At the end of it, this Giants fan who was going after me the hardest came running through seven or eight people to get to me,” Collinsworth recalled last week. “He was 300 pounds. I didn’t know if he was going to punch me. He picked me up and was jumping up and down for 30 seconds. I was getting milk-shaked.”
### NFL Network’s pregame show will air from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and ESPN’s from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m…. NBC Sports Network, formerly known as Versus, this week became the latest cable channel to use former Dolphin Jason Taylor, who has TV aspirations. He had cameos with ESPN last summer and NFL Network in January…. The last word, from NBC’s Peter King: “Of all the things I’ve covered in my career, the most surprising thing is Dan Marino played in only one Super Bowl.”