Scott Pelley has interviewed politicians and pop stars, royalty and rogues, and his reporting has taken him from Afghanistan to the former Yugoslavia. But his assignment on Feb. 3 will be unique for the career newsman: He will interview the President of the United States on Super Bowl Sunday.
It is an assignment that will be analyzed in real time, and those critics will come in large numbers given the passion of sports fans and their growing numbers on social media. Bill O'Reilly's pre-Super Bowl interview in 2011 with Obama drew more than 17 million viewers on Fox and last year
Pelley says the goal is simple: Make news. That is always the objective when interviewing a U.S. President and Pelley will likely have 10 to 15 minutes to do it. Last year Obama used the forum to tell Americans he deserved to be re-elected as well as addressing escalating concerns about Iran's nuclear weapons program. The White House has not formally accepted CBS's invitation but Obama has done a live interview on the network hosting the Super Bowl every year of his tenure.
Pelley said he plans to ask Obama at least one question about football, "and you have to ask a question about the Super Bowl -- it's appropriate in the context." But Pelley, whose news show will air live from New Orleans nightly during the week leading up Super Bowl, said Super Bowl pregame show viewers should not expect sports to dominate the interview. "Every American is interested in what the President has to say on a number of issues and we will use this opportunity," Pelley said.
Given the interview with Obama is still three weeks away, Pelley said the questions will reflect the news cycle of the moment. But he does have a strategy in mind for his first question with the President. "I always try to ask them a question they are not expecting right off the top because it gives the interview a certain action, it gives the interview a certain intensity, and helps the person that I am interviewing get up on their game," Pelley said. "I don't know what the question is going to be but I'll think of something."
The Noise Report
"In addition, there have been numerous examples of announcers calling events in which relatives were participating: Ned Jarrett's call of Dale Jarrett's Daytona 500 win; Bob Griese's call of Brian Griese in Rose Bowl; Darrell Waltrip analyzing races his brother was racing in; Mike Golic talking Notre Dame football with two kids there playing. Brian has become one of the elite game analysts in the NFL. If we thought for a second that this relationship would impact his analysis of this game in any way, he would not been given this assignment."
In an interview with SI.com on Sunday night, NBC play-by-play announcer Mike Emrick predicted that the opening games would be played at a very high tempo. "I think there will be incredible energy -- kids are on realistic sugar highs," Emrick said.
As for whether the television audience will come back, Emrick is convinced they will. "There are passionate fans that call into [sports-talk] shows and complain about the sport and say they won't come back," Emrick said. "But at the end of the day, it's a great sport and I think they will come. So you can say I am one of the radicals who believes they will come back right away. I hope I will be proven right."
Among other NBC/NBCSN highlights:
? NBC is pitching Wednesday night as rivalry night on the NBC Sports Network and the schedule will feature traditional rivalries such as Bruins-Canadiens and Flyers-Penguins.
? On Feb. 17 NBC and the NBC Sports Network will air nine hours of coverage, including three games and six teams. The first two broadcasts on NBC feature the Penguins at Sabres (12:30 p.m. ET) and Kings at Blackhawks (3:30 p.m. ET). The Capitals at Rangers will air at 6 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.
? NBC will debut a state-of-the-art International Broadcast Center from Stamford, Conn where its hockey pre and post game shows will be filmed.
? The NHL and NBC will once again utilize flex scheduling, which allows the two entities to select from up to four games on Sunday afternoons. At least 13 days prior to the scheduled games, the NHL and NBC will announce which game will air.
The good: "First On The Field" analyst LaDainian Tomlinson: "The combination of [Colin] Kaepernick's running ability and Frank Gore is going to give the Packers problems. Green Bay won't stop the running game."
The not-so-good: Tomlinson again: "Joe Flacco won't play well; he hasn't played well on the road all year."
? The Lance Armstrong scandal ended in vindication for David Walsh, the journalist who first accused him of doping to win the Tour de France. Read an amazing piece here from Walsh:
? The sports front page of Sunday's
? SI's Tom Verducci on why he'll never vote for a known steroid user for the Hall of Fame.
Here are two brilliant non-sports pieces I can't recommend enough:
? What happens when a celebrity musician reads your blog post in which you crushed him? Well, this happens, if the musician is Richard Marx.