Same teams, network: Is replay really dead?

RADIO -TV

January 28, 1994|By RAY FRAGER

I looked up, and standing next to my desk was Dennis Hopper. He was wearing a football official's uniform and a trench coat. His face was sweaty. He kept looking over his shoulder.

"What's the deal, man?" he began, pausing to peek inside a large paper bag he had been clutching. "It's deja vu, I'm telling you, deja vu.

"Last year, the Super Bowl, man, it was on NBC. And the Cowboys and the Bills were in it. This year, they're telling us it's the same two teams. On the same network, man.

"I don't think so. I think it's the same game again, man. They're messing with our heads. It's horseshoes and hand grenades, man."

And then he was gone.

Last I heard, he was hired as NFL pre-game host by Fox.

But unless Dennis is coming over your house Sunday, you're probably looking forward to Super Bowl Sunday (6 p.m., channels 2, 4). Fate and the NFL television contract have conspired to deliver the same teams and network. NBC has the game for the second consecutive year because the NFL's current four-year TV deal, which expires after this season, allowed for the fourth Super Bowl to go up for bids. NBC bid $41 million and won the right to sell ads for $900,000 per 30-second spot.

Dick Enberg and Bob Trumpy are back, too. It's Enberg's sixth Super Bowl play-by-play assignment and the 10th time overall he has covered the game in some fashion.

"To have the honor and the privilege of calling the biggest sporting event of the year doesn't go unnoticed," Enberg said this week.

On the other hand . . .

XTC "It's another game," he said. "If we try to make it more important or treat it more important than any other, we'll have failed."

Having the Cowboys and Bills back helps and doesn't help, Enberg said. "It is easier in that we know the teams well," he said, "but we have to dig more deeply for stories that haven't been told."

John Jett, The Untold Story of a Man and His Punting.

Like the former player he is, analyst Trumpy has checked the films, and says he's pleased with last year's performance.

"What I did for people who like X's and O's is identify the turning points," Trumpy said. "I was very pleased."

Perhaps wishfully thinking of calling something better than another 52-17 Cowboys win, Trumpy said there is a formula for a Bills victory.

"If the Buffalo Bills can come up with some way to have Kenneth Davis and Thurman Thomas have 40 carries, that means you take the pressure off Jim Kelly to produce," Trumpy said.

"What Jim Kelly has learned this year is to spread the ball around, let Thurman Thomas dictate the tempo."

The Bills also can't get too upset about mistakes, Trumpy said.

"How Buffalo reacts to its first turnover is absolutely key. If they start saying, 'Oh, no, not again . . .' "

If the game becomes an "oh, no, not again," Trumpy said, he and Enberg have had plenty of practice this season in filling air time during blowouts.

"We are very experienced in emptying our buckets," Trumpy said.

Empty or full buckets aside, Enberg is aware that he and his partner's best efforts won't necessarily draw everybody to the TV Sunday.

"The beauty of the Super Bowl is it does bring more people together to watch one thing, but there are other pursuits that are more important," Enberg said. "I don't condemn anybody who wants to take their kids to the beach."

Such a condemnation wouldn't go over well at home. While Enberg worked the AFC title game, the announcer said, his wife and children spent Sunday on the beach in La Jolla, Calif.

Pre-view

And then there's the game before the game. "Super Bowl Live" begins at 4 p.m. Sunday, and a fun- and information-filled two hours are planned.

Jim Lampley is the pre-game host, accompanied by the comedy team of Mike "Come Down Here with Those Snowballs, Punk" Ditka and Joe Gibbs. All of your other NBC faves will be along: Todd Christensen, Cris Collinsworth, Paul Maguire, Will McDonough, Ahmad Rashad and O. J. Simpson.

Last year's pre-game host, Bob Costas, will have a limited role. Costas interviewed Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson and owner Jerry Jones together. Given Costas' interviewing skill and the sometimes-rocky relations between Johnson and Jones, this could be the best segment of the pre-game.

Other planned "Super Bowl Live" segments:

* A 25th-anniversary look at the New York Jets' Super Bowl III victory over a team near and dear to Baltimore's hearts. This will include an interview with Joe Namath, whom NBC canned as an analyst after the 1992 season.

* Simpson's interviews with the Cowboys' Leon Lett and the Bills' Bruce Smith, who might explain how he got John Ratzenberger to wear that dress in the potato chip commercial.

* Maguire and Collinsworth at the NFL Experience, the league's interactive football exhibit. "We figure Paul Maguire is the perfect guy to run pass patterns and jump over pylons," NBC Sports executive producer Tom Roy said.

* Rashad on his former team, the Vikings, who, like the Bills, have been branded as losers for Super Bowl futility.

* Ditka and Simpson in a rematch of last year's video-football game. (You remember that one, don't you? That's when you decided it was a good time to drive to 7-Eleven for more Doritos.)

* Bill Cosby with an "anecdotal look at the game of football." NBC plans to scatter Cosby's tidbits throughout the pre-game.

In other news

ESPN will telecast the first live coverage of an NFL commissioner's Super Bowl news conference today at 11:30 a.m. Remember, try not to throw anything at the set if somebody asks Paul Tagliabue about Baltimore. . . . TNT presents "Super Bowl Saturday Night" tomorrow at 8 p.m. Hosts Pat Haden, Kevin Kiley, Bob Neal and Craig Sager will help present various league awards and perhaps sing a Beatles medley. Other scheduled musical entertainment includes country star Travis Tritt and Georgia alternative-rock grandparents the B-52s. The latter may be appearing because there can be no fly-over inside the Georgia Dome.

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