NBC to keep focus on the field, not emotion of its Super send-off

Media Watch

January 25, 1998|By Milton Kent

Over the past three decades, some of the greatest moments in pro football history have aired on NBC.

From the New York Jets' startling upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, to the Dolphins' dramatic overtime win over Kansas City on Christmas Day in the 1971 playoffs, to perhaps the greatest game in league history, the 1981 AFC divisional playoff match between San Diego and Miami, when a gimpy Kellen Winslow seemingly willed San Diego to a 41-38 overtime victory, the Peacock network has a proud history of football telecasting.

Thanks to the machinations of this month's NFL television contract negotiations, which left NBC without a chair when the music stopped, all of that tradition comes to an end with today's Super Bowl telecast from San Diego.

Yet there doesn't seem to be all the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth that came four years ago when CBS lost its seat at the NFL dance, least of all from NBC staffers, where the mood seems to be more frustration than sadness.

"It's self-indulgent," said Dick Enberg, who will call his eighth Super Bowl today. "We've had a great run. I think the average fan at home doesn't care about our emotions. They care about a big game and who wins the Super Bowl."

Enberg continued: "I would guess for those of us who may not be doing football, next September when we sit down and see that first NFL game done by someone else and after football being such a big part of our lives for so many years, then the emotions might be a little different and maybe I'd like to give a little speech, but I don't plan to do any [today]."

Said analyst Paul Maguire, who has been teamed with Enberg and Phil Simms for three years: "I think with what we've done the last three years, we know how we feel about each other. I don't think anything has to be said on the way out because we know how hard we've worked to put it together. It will be the final game, but it probably will be our best."

Unlike a lot of the AFC teams during the course of their 13-year Super Bowl losing skein, NBC won't be mailing it in for its last NFL telecast for at least the next five years.

A total of 27 cameras, 27 tape machines, including that neat "Elvis" machine that allows for sequential replays, and an assortment of over 500 on-air and behind-the-scenes employees will be in the ballpark formerly known as Jack Murphy Stadium to chronicle this latest game to end all games.

In addition to Simms and Maguire, NBC will use former 49ers lineman Randy Cross as an extra reporter, who will, in the words of NBC executive producer Tom Roy, look for "esoteric,but meaningful stats" that will be displayed through the use of real-time 3-D graphics.

"It looks pretty darned sharp," Roy said. "If the stats play out, it should be pretty nice on the air."

The network also will train one camera on Denver quarterback John Elway throughout the game, even when he's not on the field, to capture his emotions in what could be his last chance at a title.

Though the kickoff comes around 6: 20 or thereabouts, NBC will sign-on with a pre-game show at 3: 30, or after the conclusion of the NBA game.

Super preparation

For some, NBC's 2 1/2 hour pre-game show just won't suffice as a lead-in to today's game, and that's a frightening concept. For them, CNN's "NFL Preview" (11 a.m.) and ESPN's "NFL Countdown" (noon) will have to suffice. On "Countdown," reporter Greg Garber will look at the 10th anniversary of the triumph of Washington quarterback Doug Williams, while examining the fraternity of black signal callers.

For those who prefer their football without pictures, WBAL (1090 AM) will have CBS Radio's presentation of the Big Game, with a modest but nonetheless fact-filled pre-game show at 5: 45 p.m., with our very own Jim Hunter as host.

Howard David and Matt Millen will have the game call, and we certainly hope that Millen has rested up for the broadcast, as his tendency to over-talk may tire him out (we can only hope) by the end of the third quarter.

Pub Date: 1/25/98

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