This Sunday, February 5, sports fans across America will tune in for television's biggest event of the year: Super Bowl XL. Football greats the Pittsburgh Steelers will face off against underdogs the Seattle Seahawks at Detroit, Michigan's $300 million Ford Field. The game begins at 6:00 p.m. EST, but diehard fans will be in front of the TV at the stroke of 11:00 a.m. EST, when ESPN launches its six-hour Super Bowl edition of Sunday NFL Countdown. Switch over to ABC at 2:30 p.m. EST for the Super Bowl XL Pre-Game Show, which will be hosted by Chris Berman and will include segments featuring Jimmy Kimmel, Mick Jagger, Chris Connelly, Stevie Wonder, and more.
Be sure to drag your computer desk up next to the couch during the day's events, because you'll definitely want to participate in some interactive Super Bowl fun right here on TV.com. In addition to providing forums so that you can discuss the game as you watch it, we'll be streaming those famous Super Bowl commercials just after they air on TV. Since the commercials are nearly as entertaining and important as the game itself, if not more so, we're sure you'll want to duke it out over which ones are the funniest, sexiest, weirdest, and all-around best. Keep your eyes glued to that TV screen for some very amusing new spots from Budweiser; more monkeyshines from CareerBuilder.com; a duet by Pizza Hut lovers Jessica Simpson and Miss Piggy; a spot from Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty, which aims to please Super Bowl viewers of both sexes; and much more.
All in all, it's shaping up to be a pretty amazing day. We've got tons of great Super Bowl stuff for you to check out, so get to clicking through those tabs--and be sure to come back and visit us on Sunday!
From an official ABC/ESPN press release:
ABC Sports and ESPN will present 9.5 hours of live programming on Super Bowl Sunday, February 5, covering every possible story angle surrounding Super Bowl XL in Detroit. A talented roster of NFL commentators, analysts and reporters will appear from Ford Field and multiple other locations throughout the city during ABC's Super Bowl XL Pre-Game Show (2:30-6 p.m. ET) and the special Super Bowl edition of ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown (11 a.m.-5 p.m.).
ABC'S SUPER BOWL XL PRE-GAME SHOW (2:30-6 p.m.)
ABC Sports, the broadcast home of Super Bowl XL, will kick off its 3.5-hour pre-game show in high-definition at 2:30 p.m., immediately following the network’s presentation of the NBA’s Super Sunday Houston Rockets at New York Knicks game.
Chris Berman will serve as pre-game, halftime and post-game host and will be joined by analysts Michael Irvin, Tom Jackson and Super Bowl XXIX MVP Steve Young on the main set from the concourse level at Ford Field.
ABC Sports' Mike Tirico will host the field level set and will be joined by three-time Super Bowl champion head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots.
Reporters Michele Tafoya (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Suzy Kolber (Seatlle Seahawks) will cover the teams from the hotels through introductions at Ford Field. NFL reporters Chris Mortensen and Andrea Kremer will provide reports from Ford Field, while Kenny Mayne will appear from the Motown Winter Blast festival from Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit. Good Morning America host Robin Roberts, comedian Jimmy Kimmel, correspondent Chris Connelly and reporters Sam Ryan and Lisa Salters will also contribute features.
The ABC Pre-Game show will feature a "Celebration of the Decades" theme to mark the 40th anniversary of the Super Bowl with each half hour until 5 pm recognizing a decade of past Super Bowls--1960s at 2:30 p.m.; 70s at 3 p.m.; 80s at 3:30 p.m.; 90s at 4 p.m.; and 2000-05 at 4:30 p.m.. Thirty-second time capsule segments will highlight Super Bowl moments and pop culture events of each decade.
Iranian Hostages 25th Anniversary
Twenty-five years ago, 52 Americans who had been held hostage for 444 days in Iran, returned to the US on Super Bowl Sunday. Just a few hours after landing in America, one of those hostages--Army medic Don Hohman--watched Super Bowl XV from his West Point, NY, hotel room and saw his favorite team, the Oakland Raiders, defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10. So moved by the experience, Hohman called the Raiders locker room after the game and spoke to MVP Jim Plunkett. Hohman discusses his experience a quarter-century later.
Dominant Super Bowl Defenses
Belichick, the only head coach in NFL history to win three Super Bowls in four years, will break down four of the most dominating defenses in Super Bowl history--the Pittsburgh Steelers "Steel Curtain" of the 1970s; the Chicago Bears' 46 defense from Super Bowl XX; the New York Giants defense from Super Bowl XXV, which Belichick oversaw as the defensive coordinator; and Belichick's Patriots defense from Super Bowl XXXVI, which shut down the high-powered St. Louis Rams offense.
Kremer profiles former Oakland Raiders defensive back Jack Tatum in a rare sit-down interview. Known for his menacing presence and punishing hits as a player--including one which sadly paralyzed Patriots wide receiver Darryl Singley in a 1978 exhibition game, and another which flattened Vikings receiver Sammy White in Super Bowl XI--Tatum had his left leg amputated and five surgeries in a six-month period in 2003 due to complications from diabetes. He now lives in the Oakland, Californria, area, where he works with a foundation that helps kids with juvenile diabetes.
A League Of Their Own
Every fall Saturday in upstate New York, kids and young adults with cerebral palsy and down syndrome, kids who are blind or autistic--even children confined to wheelchairs by terminal illnesses--feel what it's like to score a touchdown in the Pop Warner Challenger Football Division for the mentally and physically disabled. Connelly visits the only league of its kind, which started in suburban Albany in 2004 and conducted its first-ever Challenger Super Bowl last month in Orlando.
Kimmel, the popular ABC late-night talk show host, provides his own comedic insight on the Super Bowl.
Roberts sits down with the legendary lead singer of the Rolling Stones, who have been rocking for 40 years and will perform at halftime of Super Bowl XL.
Stevie Wonder Performance:
The pre-game show will conclude with a live 10-minute performance on the field by the legendary Stevie Wonder, a native of Saginaw, Michigan, who has more than 30 Top 10 hits, 11 number one pop singles and 19 Grammys.
Hank Williams, Jr....Are You Ready for Some Football?
ABC’s Super Bowl XL Pre-Game Show will transition into the Super Bowl XL broadcast with a special music video by Hank Williams, Jr.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS FEATURES:
Ryan profiles quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and his football family. Hasselbeck’s father, Don, played for the Raiders team which won Super Bowl XVIII, and Matt’s brother, Tim, is a back-up quarterback with the New York Giants
A profile of running back and NFL MVP Shaun Alexander, who led the league in rushing and set the single-season touchdown record during his runaway season.
Kathy Holmgren, wife of the Seattle Seahawks head coach, will not be in Detroit for Super Bowl XL. Ryan reports on how she will honor a long-standing commitment to return to Africa, where she was a volunteer nurse in Zaire in 1969-1970. Kathy and daughter Calla, a doctor, are spending three weeks on a medical mission to help some of the neediest people on the continent. They were interviewed before they left for Africa this week, and the feature will include footage from their mission.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS FEATURES:
Salters highlights the lightning-quick maturation of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in just his second NFL season. The 11th pick of the 2004 draft will be the second-youngest QB to start a Super Bowl.
Jackson spends time with Jerome Bettis in Detroit, as the future Hall of Fame running back reflects on his 13,000-yard rushing career and on playing perhaps his final game in Super Bowl XL in his hometown.
ABC’s Monday Night Football commentator Al Michaels sits down with head coach and Pittsburgh native Bill Cowher, who led the Steelers back to the Super Bowl 10 years after he coached them to an appearance in Super Bowl XXX. (Note: the feature will include footage of Cowher's daughters playing basketball--one in college and two in high school--the day prior to the Super Bowl)
Ultimate Road Trip will provide a brief look at the post-season path of the Steelers, the first team ever to beat the top three conference seeds in the playoffs on the road and advance to the Super Bowl.
ESPN’S SUNDAY NFL COUNTDOWN (11 am-5 pm)
Sunday NFL Countdown presented by Old Spice Red Zone will preview Super Bowl XL with in-depth features, analysis and the latest team news, plus analyst predictions on the game. At 2:30 pm, ESPN's pre-game coverage will offer a whip-around format catering to the most avid football fans with live team reports every 20 minutes. Coverage will include a number of live guest interviews inside the stadium.
Monday Night Countdown's Stuart Scott will host on the main set at field level at Ford Field with analysts Mike Ditka, Ron Jaworski and Sean Salisbury. Joe Theismann will appear as a guest analyst.
NFL Live's Trey Wingo will co-host from a second set at the Wintergarden Atrium at the GM Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit, where he will be joined by analysts Mark Schlereth and Darren Woodson.
Reporters Sal Paolantonio (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Ed Werder (Seattle Seahawks) will cover the teams from the hotels through warm-ups at Ford Field. NFL reporters Mortensen and Kremer will provide reports from Ford Field, Mayne will appear from Motown Winter Blast and Linda Cohn will visit with fans and capture the scene outside Ford Field. Colleen Dominguez and George Smith will also report from Seattle and Pittsburgh, respectively. Live guests will appear from both Ford Field and the Wintergarden Atrium. Reporter Greg Garber and correspondent Chris Connelly will also contribute features.
Bill Cowher: In his 14th season, Bill Cowher is the longest-tenured coach in the league. Garber examines how Cowher has outlasted so many other coaches around the league.
Jerome Bettis and Ben Roethlisberger: After 13 seasons, Bettis is the face of the Steelers. When he retires, he'll pass that role on to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Garber examines the relationship between Bettis and Roethlisberger.
Troy Polamalu: The Pittsburgh Steelers safety is all over the field. As defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau says, "He’s a coordinator's dream." Garber talks to the Steelers about how they use Polomalu and how his many roles confuse opposing quarterbacks.
Steelers Trash Talk: Led by Joey Porter, several members of the Steelers defense have mastered the art of trash talking on the field. Garber visits with some of Pittsburgh's biggest trash talkers.
Mike Holmgren's Quarterbacks: Kremer profiles quarterback coaching guru Mike Holmgren, who was Joe Montana’s quarterbacks coach, Steve Young’s offensive coordinator and Brett Favre's head coach. Those three former players and his current quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck, talk about learning and playing for Holmgren.
Lofa Tatupu: Kremer profiles Lofa Tatupu, the Seahawks rookie linebacker and son of former Patriots fullback Mosi Tatupu, who is quickly making a name for himself as he looks to escape his father’s shadow. Lofa, a second round pick from USC, has been a starter all season and makes all of the defensive calls on the field.
Ken Hamlin: Ken Hamlin was the Seahawks starting safety on October 17, 2005 when he was severely beaten outside a nightclub. He suffered a fractured skull, a blood clot near his brain and bruised brain tissue in the assault. He has recovered and raised the 12th Man flag before the Seahawks played the Redskins in the divisional playoff. In his first sit-down television interview, Hamlin recounts the night of the attack and his road to recovery with Kremer.
Seahawks Motivation: Prior to the start of the season the Seahawks brought in Ed Viesturs as a guest speaker. Viesturs, the only American to reach the peaks of the 14 highest mountains in the world, spoke to the team about teamwork. Kremer examines how Viesturs words have carried the Seahawks through the season, the playoffs and into the Super Bowl.
All-Time Super Bowl Soundtracks: NFL Films cameras and microphones provide an inside look at the best moments in Super Bowl history. Irvin introduces the feature.
1985 Bears: On the 20th anniversary of their victory in Super Bowl XX, NFL Films cameras look back at the characters that were the 1985 Chicago Bears from Jim McMahon and Walter Payton to defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan and head coach Mike Ditka.
Pop Warner Challenger Football League: Connelly profiles the only sports league of its kind, the Pop Warner Challenger Football Division for mentally and physically disabled children in upstate New York.
Martha Stewart: Mayne teams up with Martha Stewart to create the ultimate Super Bowl party nachos.
Mayne Event--Robert Kraft's Ring: Last summer Patriots owner Robert Kraft met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kraft showed Putin his Super Bowl ring and the Russian President kept it. In the Super Bowl edition of Mayne Event, Mayne wages a campaign to get Kraft's ring back.
Super Bowl XL Game Coverage:
Al Michaels, Super Bowl XL play-by-play
John Madden, Super Bowl XL analyst
Michele Tafoya, Super Bowl XL sideline reporter
Suzy Kolber, Super Bowl XL sideline reporter
Fred Gaudelli, Super Bowl XL producer
Drew Esocoff, Super Bowl XL director
ABC Super Bowl XL Pre-Game, Halftime and Post-Game:
Chris Berman, Co-Host
Mike Tirico, Co-Host
Michael Irvin, Analyst
Tom Jackson, Analyst
Joe Theismann, Analyst
Steve Young, Analyst
Chris Mortensen, Reporter
Jimmy Kimmel, Special contributor
ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown Super Bowl Edition:
Stuart Scott, Co-Host
Trey Wingo, Co-Host
Mike Ditka, Analyst
Ron Jaworski, Analyst
Sean Salisbury, Analyst
Mark Schlereth, Analyst
Darren Woodson, Analyst
John Clayton, Analyst
Linda Cohn, Reporter
Andrea Kremer, Reporter
Kenny Mayne, Reporter
Sal Paolantonio, Reporter
Ed Werder, Reporter
ABC Sports & ESPN Executives
George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports; Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks; Chairman, ESPN Board of Directors
John Skipper, Executive Vice President, Content
Norby Williamson, Executive Vice President, Studio and Remote Production
Mike Pearl, Senior Vice President & Executive Producer, ABC Sports
ESPN PRESS CONFERENCE
WITH THE ABC SUPER BOWL XL BROADCAST TEAM
January 30, 2006
AN INTERVIEW WITH AL MICHAELS, JOHN MADDEN, FRED GAUDELLI, NORBY WILLIAMSON
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us today. Obviously it's the Super Bowl, no bigger stage, no bigger event, no bigger television event. And I'm very pleased to have on the call today to answer your questions, ABC Super Bowl game announcers, Al Michaels, John Madden; the Super Bowl producer, Fred Gaudelli; and of course the executive vice president of studio and remote production for ABC and ESPN, Norby Williamson.
Before we open the line for questions and answers, I'm going to ask each of those four to give some brief comments about their thoughts as we head into the big game. We'll start with Al Michaels. Al?
AL MICHAELS: Thank you. I love this match up. And I know you guys have heard everybody going to do a Super Bowl say that, but I'm just reflecting what I'm hearing from a lot of people that I have talked to that love football and find this to be very, very intriguing.
Obviously you never know what you're going to get. We thought we had a terrific game set up in the Oakland Tampa Bay Super Bowl three years ago; we know what happened. But I will say that a lot of great story lines here. And I didn't think I would live long enough to see a No. 6 seed go to the Super Bowl and be the favorite over a No. 1 seed. I find that would be astonishing but that is what we have here.
As far as our production is concerned, it's been an extraordinary and a very unusual year. I'd like to say that Fred Gaudelli and Drew Esocoff have done a magnificent job of making sure that the dozens of people that do this show have stayed completely focused on this season, and this season only.
It's not been easy, but I will say the production on Monday Night Football this year was the best that I've ever been involved with in my 20 years on the show. And I just hope we can wrap it up this season day with a perfect telecast and double overtime; that would be fun.
JOHN MADDEN: I just want to echo what Al just said about Fred and the whole group that we worked with all year, and in my case, the four years it's been a great experience. And I think the Super Bowl is so special, and it's as big as it gets, and there's no place for the loser. And I don't know whether that's right or wrong, but Sunday we're going to crown a winner and that will be the Super Bowl Champion and the other team is going to be forgotten.
I think that sometimes teams, they say our goal is "to get to the Super Bowl." And the way the Super Bowl is today, that better not be your goal to get there. Your goal better be to get there and to win, because that's the one that you remember and everyone else is forgotten.
The thing about this game that really interests me now is Pittsburgh has always been a running team, top defense. So when you defend, them you would always defend to stop the run and you say, okay, let's put the ball in Ben Roethlisberger's hands and let him try to beat you. And if you watch them in the playoffs, that's the way they are playing them. Pittsburgh has changed from a running team offensively to a passing team, and so it's going to be interesting for me to see how Seattle plays them. And it looks like to me in the other three games they played in the playoffs that they still play the old Pittsburgh; get out there, eight men in the box, stop the run. And Ben Roethlisberger came out throwing. The Steelers used a lot of three , four wide receivers, empty backfields and they have changed during the season.
Pittsburgh isn't the same team right now as they were at the beginning or even in the middle of the season and then some teams I thought were still defending them that way and to me one of the interesting things is going to be whether Seattle does or not.
Anyway, it's something that just, it's the Super Bowl and it's exciting already.
FRED GAUDELLI: I would just say that really there's primary goals for the telecast on Sunday. The first would be to cover the game as well and present it as clear a fashion as possible just in terms of the strategy, the rules, the trends of the game. And with Al and John I have 100 percent confidence that will happen.
And second, because it is the Super Bowl, is to wrap around the game as creatively with the kind of elements that would suggest that the spectacle of this football has become, so there's something for everybody. It's football Sunday, but clearly covering the game is the most important thing.
NORBY WILLIAMSON: Freddie is right about just the inclusion of serving the fan and the different level of fan. We're thrilled to be part of ABC and ESPN. And we're starting coverage already with our studio shows yesterday and, we will cover from a news and information perspective on ESPN all week. And we have an NBA lead in to the ABC Pregame Show and a complementary ESPN Pregame Show. And so we will have both ABC and ESPN serving different types of fans with the Pregame Show. We're just thrilled to be in a position to track stories and developments in our news and information program all the way up through and including the game telecast.
Q. This is a question for Al. I know he might not want to talk about it but it will come up, but can you tell us about your status, about whether you'll be at ESPN or maybe go to NBC?
AL MICHAELS: I'll tell you that I'm under contract for next season at ESPN. I can't do anything about the swirling rumors. I read them, of course. Except to say that the people who are a part of this show, including me, are preparing for the Super Bowl on Sunday and I'm not going to be a party to anything that's remotely distractive to our crew and detracts from what we're trying to do on Sunday. I talked about Freddie and Drew and about how everybody has been focused and talking about dozens of people on this season.
And next season, for the people on this show, starts next week, not this week. We are preparing to do a game that over 100 million people are going to tune in to watch, and that's all I'm thinking about at the moment.
Q. I just wanted to follow up, I know there's been so much speculation, just wondering what do you think, why is it starting? Why is there so much speculation; if you're under contract, why would it be speculation that something else would be going on?
AL MICHAELS: You could probably answer that better than I could. And I read a lot of things and I'm going, where did that come from? So, I don't know. You know, obviously I read about every newspaper in the country, I see what's being written. And frankly, I don't know. Whoever has whatever information they are getting from whatever sources, would be a better person to go to to find out than I would. I don't know.
Q. Seeing all the stuff written and you say you don't want to be distracted, but is it a distraction and is it unsettling, because basically what is being suggested is that you might try to break a contract?
AL MICHAELS: I don't let anything distract me and unsettle me. You've known me for a long period of time, and I am right now and have been all season long, just thinking about this year. And I know I may sound like the State Department here; I can't respond to rumors and whatever is out there, because that would become a distraction and it wouldn't be fair to the people on this show as well.
As I say, I don't want this to be a story because we have too many people who have worked too hard to make this a pretty terrific year and now we've got the culmination of it coming up.
So I'm pretty good, and I think all of us on this show are pretty good at making sure that the only thing we're thinking about is Sunday.
Q. You did quite a bit on last Monday night game on ABC, will there be much attention paid or any at all that this is going to be the last NFL game of any kind on ABC at least in the foreseeable future?
FRED GAUDELLI: I would say not at all. We spent THE last telecast looking back at the 36 years and saying our good byes, and this is the Super Bowl. It's the biggest event of the year. We're going to crown a champion. All of the focus and effort will be focused on that.
Q. Have you given any thought that this could be your last Super Bowl with the way the TV contracts are set up and what your thoughts are on that and maybe what you remember about some of the other games that you've done, a lot of which unfortunately have been blowouts?
AL MICHAELS: You never know what it's going to be. I thought it was going to be my last World Series in 1989. We lost the contract, got back and did it in 1995. Never thought I would be a part of the NBA Finals, and I've done a couple of them right now. Life takes crazy twists and turns. I can't think that far ahead.
All I know is that to do the Super Bowl, it's terrific. I think your brain maybe works in a different fashion on that day because you're so locked into the game. And John has done even more than I have and I think everybody just you rise to the occasion. You know it's a Super Bowl. You know that there are maybe 100 million people watching the game, and it's exhilarating, it really is. It's adrenalizing, it's exhilarating and it's one of those where you get excited leading up to it and you're very excited during the game and you just hope the game plays out. I did five of them, two of them went down to the wire, three of them were blowouts. I just hope we get that overtime I was talking about, that double overtime.
Q. Does this Super Bowl matchup remind you of any recent game that you have done or that you have watched?
JOHN MADDEN: Probably maybe New England and the Rams, one of those, where Pittsburgh is the maybe the New England and Seattle is like the Rams. You know, the good offense against the good defense and that kind of game.
I think that Seattle for some reason is a better team than they are given credit for, and I think part of it is the fact that they are up there in the corner and they get forgotten about a little bit. When you watch them play, they have Sean Alexander, the Most Valuable Player in the league. And Matt Hassleback who has really, really come along as a quarterback, and the way he runs that team and moves and does some things is amazing. He probably has the best offensive line in football.
And their defense, at one point they had bad defense. Their offense was pretty good, but they dropped a lot of balls and the defense wasn't very good. And then earlier in the season, their defense got better but they still were not a good defense; they were just a better defense and you watch them now, and believe me, this Seattle defense is a good defense.
Q. Could you describe what the goal is during that period of overlap with ABC and ESPN pregame shows in terms of you mentioned earlier you're addressing different fans with each, what are you trying to do there?
FRED GAUDELLI: Sure, we're trying to offer complementary pregame shows. NFL Countdown will begin on ESPN at 11:00 A.M. and obviously it starts on ABC at noon. At 2:30, the NBA game hopefully will end and we'll go to the Pregame Show.
On ESPN we're going to take a hard turn. We're really going to go deep into the X & O format of the game and break it down and hopefully serve all of those fans that are out there, the fans that are maybe coming to the TV on ABC. We realize, look, the audience will not be anywhere close. It will not hurt the ABC Pregame Show, it's a complementary service, but we're going to make a hard turn and go deep X & O. We're going to have reports from the reporters every 20 minutes during the overlap time on ESPN, and we're going to dive in and dissect the game with the announcers that we have and the analysts that we have.
Q. John, if you could go back a little bit to Seattle and the fact that they may be underrated. Aside from the fact that I guess maybe they are geographically isolated, do you think there are any other factors that weigh in there?
JOHN MADDEN: Yeah, I think the NFC kind of took a back seat to the AFC this year. The predominant story for the biggest part of the season was the Indianapolis Colts and could they go undefeated, would they go undefeated. Then you still had the New England Patriots who had won two out of the last three Super Bowls. And by the time you got to the NFC, they were kind of the third or fourth story. And then Seattle was the best team in the NFC all year. So I think they were kind of buried.
I remember one time reading something about three quarters of the way through the season where the Colts were a 14 point favorite in the Super Bowl. Like I said, that was about three quarters of the way through the season. So I think that they just didn't have a lot of respect for I don't use that word too loosely, respect gets thrown around too much, a lack of respect. But I don't think they had a lot of respect for the NFC and just didn't watch them. And then Seattle sneaked up on them and you see them in the playoffs, they are pretty doggone good.
Q. Can you give us any idea of what kind of focus you'll have on the City of Detroit during the game and the pregame shows? FRED GAUDELLI: As we do on Monday Night Football every week, part of the plan is always to give you a sense of place of where the game is being taken place, and obviously we're at a cold weather site. So we'll have cameras out all week long shooting around Detroit. We'll have an aerial shooting of Detroit, which is a pretty nice skyline when you look over from Canada. But it will be the same approach as we do on Monday Night Football where you'll really get a good taste of the city, what it's like and what it's been like on Super Bowl week.
And in the Pregame Show and the news and information shows on ESPN leading up, we have more opportunity to give you that sense of place. There are ice festivals that are going on and ice skating and we'll have reporters around there, and we'll also give you a sense of the historical significance, not just the NFL but other sports in the City of Detroit and have some fun in that area and educate viewers who are coming to us on ESPN and ABC shows, as well as SportsCenter, during the week about what a championship means to Detroit, championships that have been decided there.
Q. Wondering if there's a little bit of melancholy for Al and John that this is going to be their last big game together.
AL MICHAELS: John touched on it before. It's not just us; it's Fred Gaudelli and Drew and a lot of us. Monday Night comes to an end on a Sunday late afternoon in early February, and it's something that all of us have felt this year. We're the guys out front, we are the guys who are on camera, Freddie and Drew and some of the others are well known people.
But for a big crew, we've got dozens of people, a lot of whom have worked on this show for a long period of time and it's been I think a little rough for them not knowing what the future will hold. I talked about early on how I think Freddie and Drew have done the most masterful job this year just making sure we keep thinking about this year.
Q. Do you still have hope of working with Al next season and why have you enjoyed this experience of working with him?
JOHN MADDEN: Along with the line of what Al said, it's something that we have to do this game. I think when you're talking about the Super Bowl, this is the biggest thing that we'll ever do, and you have to have all your focus on that. Then after that game is over, then you go on to the next thing.
I do know that I've been here four years and I've worked with Al four years and have been four of the most enjoyable years that I've ever spent in football. It's just something that I know that I have now and we have this one Super Bowl and I think you go into every Super Bowl, every season to make a memory, and that overrides everything else.
Q. Any thoughts about the NFL putting in season games on the NFL network?
JOHN MADDEN: I just worry about overexposure, I really do. I think that one of the good things that we've always had in the NFL is that we couldn't follow it up during the season. Basically you had games on Sunday and Sunday night and then Monday night. And then no matter how much you wanted to watch the NFL, there was no more NFL games between Monday night and the next Sunday. Let's say you have as of Tuesday and Wednesday to talk about the last weekend's game and then, you know, Friday, Saturday, you start talking about the next weekend's games. And I don't want us to become like college basketball or college football or something where you have games on every night. That's the direction that it's going in, and I really don't know that that's a great direction.
AL MICHAELS: And I would echo those sentiments precisely. What John just said is so true. The league, they have a wonderful product, they have been able to figure out ways to increase their revenue streams through the years by expanding their packages. They get more and more money from their partners. You're going to reach a point, at some point of oversaturation. Is this it? I don't know. But that's the danger that lurks there. If you're going to make things less and less special, then at a certain point I think that you begin to pay the price.
Q. During the game, any scheduled gimmicks that fans will see?
FRED GAUDELLI: We don't like gimmicks, so I don't think you'll see any gimmicks. I think obviously you increase equipment to provide angles that might better describe what just happened visually or provide clarity to a place. We'll definitely have that.
One of the things that we've added, and it's a long shot that this would ever come into play, but if it did, it would be good, is that we've been able to virtually extend the upright to the goal post. So any field goal that would go over the top, it's still the referees call, this is not going to change the call but you would be able to detect whether that kick was good or not by the virtual extension of the uprights. Our focus is on really having cameras in position to provide defining angles of critical plays.
Q. I wanted to ask about the Pregame Show, you talked about the X's and O's oriented version on ESPN. Does having that impact how you approach the ABC show? Do you do less X's and O's because you can get it on ESPN and you want to create differentiation. ?
NORBY WILLIAMSON: I don't think so. What we're trying to do is have the same production team involved, obviously there's two, but in the planning process we're all sort of in a room. And you have to understand that for an ABC audience and what will probably be over 100 million people watching, that there are different levels of fans that are coming there, and I think that you have to serve that audience in a different way than you do from the ESPN side. The ESPN traditional football viewer probably knows the Seahawks and the Steelers and probably knows pretty good detail.
So I think that you have to take those sensitivities into it, but there are certain things that have to happen on both sides, whether it's Roethlisberger, or Bettis's potential last game or Hassleback or whatever it may be. You have to deal with them on both sides. So beyond that, there's a level of detail that I think you can go in different directions on both networks.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about how much chaos there is inside the truck when you're looking at all those monitors, you're looking at the replays and you're having to tell Drew what you have to call off and what goes on in an event like this with so many cameras?
FRED GAUDELLI: I would not say it's chaos. Obviously there's a lot going on but we've had -we're a little bit different than the other networks who cover the Super Bowl, because after the wild card game, we haven't had another game. So, we've been able to spend all of that time getting ready for Super Bowl Sunday.
And at this point in the game, and I speak for Drew and obviously for myself here, you pretty much know where everything is going to be because you've devised the plan. As long as everybody executes it the way it's laid out, if Tatupu makes a tackle or interception, I know the first place I'm going it look. If a play is to the far side of the field or the near side of the field, I kind of know the first place I'm going to look. So you try to really minimize any potential chaos by having just a really good plan, and I feel like we have a really good plan.
Q. Does it bother your mind when you consider just how big the phenomena of the Super Bowl has become over the years since the first one, since even the 10th or 15th?
JOHN MADDEN: I was watching last night and the Seattle Seahawks came in; I was attaching TV, they had a shot of the plane coming in and the Seahawks were getting off the plane. It made me think back to Super Bowl II. I was an assistant coach with the Oakland Raiders. We played the Green Bay Packers in Miami in Super Bowl II. I was watching TV there. It was the same type of thing and they had a shot of the Green Bay Packers getting off the airplane and Vince Lombardi and the whole group, then they had a shot of us coming in. They said later the "Oklahoma Raiders" arrived. (Laughter). That was Super Bowl II where the host city wasn't even sure where they where the hell the other team was from. I don't even think it was called Super Bowl II.
So if you were there then and you think all the way back to what went on in Super Bowl II; and then later I coached Super Bowl XI and you remember that and all of the ones that you've been a part of; on television, you just see the evolution of this. And there's no way, there's no way when this thing was started, or even in the middle that we ever thought it would become like this.
There was one time it wasn't called the Super Bowl and another was Super Bowl and it was Super Bowl Sunday and then it became Super Bowl weekend and now it's Super Bowl week. So it just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger.
Q. Could you explain how this upright is going to work with the virtual conditions?
FRED GAUDELLI: It would only be used if we had a field goal that went over the top of one of the uprights and it would be done in replay; it would not be done live. But obviously that's a really difficult call for an official to make. And at home you're never really quite sure, was it good, was it not good, and basically, through the same technology that produces the first and 10 line. You're able to take that goal post and just add to the upright and add on a few feet or whatever it takes to either side.
AL MICHAELS: Are we working on a virtual doink? (Laughter).
FRED GAUDELLI: We are now, Al. (Laughter).
Q. Would it be fair to characterize what you're saying as a non denial/denial? And if it were, in fact, you were going to move on, how difficult would it be to move on from John Madden to whoever you're going to work with next year, apparently Joe Theismann?
AL MICHAELS: I wouldn't read anything into anything that's being said about this right now. As I said earlier, I don't know if you were on the call earlier, there's a lot of stuff out there. You know, it's not attributed to anybody, for starters; it's a source. So I can't stop whatever is swirling around. God knows where a lot of this stuff comes from.
In terms of working with people, I go back to when John and I first started and there were some people who thought that, how is that going to work, John coming over from FOX, me being at ABC and all of that. All I can tell you is that I think the last four years speak for themselves and John talked about it earlier and I've never enjoyed working with anybody more than with John. It's been phenomenal.
You know, in this business, what you do is you adjust, and we came up with a perfect combination here I think in the two of us at this point in our careers and lives and all of that and on Monday Night Football.
You know, in this business, it's very much like John coaching or somebody playing; you adjust to circumstances. I have no worries about how any adjustments we make in the future, none.
Q. Monday Night Football is known for its technical prowess, what resources do you have available this weekend as far as cameras and tape machines?
FRED GAUDELLI: The entire show is in High Definition. It's really just where you place cameras because you have the ability to have more resources at the Super Bowl. We'll have cameras shooting down both sidelines to be really definitively to be able to show, was a player in or out of bounds, did he step out of bounds, did he have two feet in bounds, was the camera shooting down both goal lines. Again, to be able to tell, did the ball break the plane, did it not break the plane. You always see a number of plays in the post season, and I'm probably going to refer to the Champ Bailey play where he picked off Brady in the end zone, took it all the way. Then when he was when the ball was drawn out by the great play by Watson, you didn't really have a good enough angle where Champ had broken the ball in the plane. We'll be able to do that here. Obviously there's a tape machine that records all those cameras. So it's really just being able to provide defining views and clarity.
You know, there are not many technical advancements over the years that actually made the game more understandable or more enjoyable. And a lot of them really just kind of mucked it up more than anything else and on this day, more than anything else, you want to provide clarity.
Q. How many more cameras actually?
FRED GAUDELLI: Roundabout a dozen, a dozen cameras.
Q. You say that you can't really stop all the speculation in the press regarding your future next year, but why don't you think you can't stop it? Why can't you just come out and say you're going to be with ESPN next year?
AL MICHAELS: Because whatever I address at this point, everybody will run with it and then it gets parsed and all of that. I want to go back to what I said until the beginning here. I have too much respect for everybody on this show. We all agreed because people are going their separate ways before the season started it was a lame duck season it was a difficult season to do. Freddie kept everybody in place. One of the reasons we were able to do this was that John didn't discuss what was happening next year at NBC. Nobody discussed what was going on with where their futures would lie. A lot of people don't know where we will be. It's a measure of respect right new that I don't want it to become any sort of an issue in regard to anything. Because once you start, the questions just keep coming from different angles and all of that. All I will tell you is that next season starts on Monday. Right now we are just thinking about the Super Bowl.
Q. Ford Field, have you guys worked there much? Does it present itself to good camera angle, bad camera angle, from your point of view is it a good or bad field to televise a game from?
FRED GAUDELLI: We only did one preseason game, we did it this past August. That's the only time that ABC has broadcast in Ford Field for an NFL game. I think it presents itself nicely on television.
Obviously the lighting is perfect. The camera angles are what you would desire. There are a lot of places to put cameras. The sidelines are a little tight and for a Super Bowl that's always a concern. But I think it's a good stadium to broadcast from.
The Pregame Show between ABC and ESPN will have three set locations that look phenomenal that have great lighting and great backdrop.
Q. Al, you've worked with two different analysts through the years, just interested in your thoughts on what makes John different than just your typical analyst?
AL MICHAELS: I think one of the things that all great analysts have in common is an understanding of the television business. Now I've worked with a lot of great people in many sports through the years, and they have known their sport exceptionally well and were very articulate. But the crème de la crème of the analysts are the guys who get into this business and don't think of themselves as an ex player or an ex coach, but as a broadcaster. And working with John, I mean, John knows as much about the inner workings of what we're doing in the truck and how the show operates as anybody; and then you combine that with his tremendous knowledge of football his great curiosity.
The first time I met Johnny was doing believe it or not a regional NFL game 30 years ago. And I sat in John's office and we talked about John Steinbeck and Travels with Charlie and some day John wanted to go out on the road, and of course that proved to be very true. He is a well read, extremely intelligent man who gets a great kick out of things; combine his knowledge with football with the kind of person he is with his knowledge of what we're doing, and that's the whole package.
Q. I just want to ask Fred, Al was talking earlier about how you've been able to maintain the focus on this season alone and all that. How have you done that basically or essentially and how difficult has it been to do it?
FRED GAUDELLI: Aside from the fact that it's Monday Night Football and for it was definitely my professional goal to work on the show, and it just happened to be that my director was someone I came into the business with and we became great friend and have been friends for the whole time.
The relationship with Al and John and myself and the rest of the people on the crew, I mean, it wasn't just you always hear the term "family" and a lot of people use it, but it truly was. In the four years that we all did this together, unlike a family, there was never a tense moment. It was just a really enjoyable time. I don't think anybody wanted to leave it with anything but that feeling.
So we just said, hey, look, it's the last one, we're lucky we're ending it with the Super Bowl, and we'll just have as good a time as we possibly can and be happy that we had four really special years together on America's premiere sportscast. So that's really how we did it.
Q. I just want to make sure I'm clear on the timing for the different things. First of all, is there a point in the pregame where you switch from your regular pregame to a separate pregame with Al and John hosting like 5:00 or something? And then I was wondering is there a specific time when you switch to the pregame music and the Stevie Wonder thing, and how much time do the Stones have on half time and how much time do you have on half time?
FRED GAUDELLI: I can try to answer those for you in order. Stevie Wonder Al and John will appear twice in the Pregame Show for short durations. One at the very top of the show and then once again probably about ten minutes prior to Stevie Wonder coming on. Stevie will come on at about 5:38. He will play for about 11 minutes. Then the game part of the pregame will begin at 5:54, and that's the player introductions, the National Anthem, the coin toss, all of that. And obviously that will be hosted by Al and John, we'll kick at about 6:23. The Stones are slotted in for about between 10 and 15 minutes at half time.
Q. And how much time do you get at half time?
FRED GAUDELLI: We're still trying to figure that out. The Stones stage and lighting is pretty elaborate. So we're probably looking at least two and a half minutes prior to the Stones coming on, and perhaps as much as about four minutes after their done so they can get the field back in playing condition.
Q. I wanted to ask John, with the Hall of Fame selections coming up, how have you kept your emotions and concentration in check with the fact that you are on the edge of going into the Hall of Fame?
JOHN MADDEN: I'm just concentrating on the Super Bowl. The Hall of Fame is something that if it happens will be great. But I don't think that it's something that you can or should talk about out of respect for players and coaches that are in the Hall of Fame until you get there and it's something that if it happens, we'll talk about it, but if it doesn't happen, I don't think that's something that you can even earn the right to talk about.
To me, this is all about Super Bowl Week and about our group here at ABC, and it's about the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks. That to me is the focus and the concentration.
THE MODERATOR: That's all the time we have today. Many of you didn't have a chance to ask questions but I think we covered a lot of territory here and I hope the answers that were given would have answered your questions.