John Harbaugh to join NBC's Super Bowl coverage, more pregame tidbits
We have become accustomed to eternal pregame shows for the Super Bowl and NBC has no plans to deviate from the tradition like no other. The network will air six hours of pregame programming on Sunday beginning with a live report from Bob Costas at noon ET. As always, the key to a successful Super Bowl pregame show -- along with attracting eyeballs -- is to balance between football and entertainment. It is not an easy task, and we have seen Seacrestian disasters.
While the official schedule is not yet out for NBC’s Super Bowl XLIX pregame show, SI.com has learned Ravens head coach John Harbaugh will work as a pregame analyst on the broadcast. He will team with regular analysts Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison and host Dan Patrick as part of a "Coach’s Clicker" segment where he and Dungy will break down specific elements and schemes from both teams. On the subject du jour of the moment, the yet-to-be-found explanation why 11 of the Patriots' initial 12 game balls in the AFC title game, NBC says they will examine it in some form.
“It’s a developing story and we’re still days away from the game, but it’s safe to say we’ll have appropriate coverage of issue,” said Sam Flood, the executive producer of NBC Sports and NBCSN, and pre-game show producer.
The usual cast of NBC’s NFL commentators will all get face time during the six hours including Costas, Dungy, Harrison, Josh Elliott, Hines Ward, Mike Florio and Peter King. Liam McHugh will serve as an on-site host at University of Phoenix Stadium; Carolyn Manno and Randy Moss will report from the team hotels, and Doug Flutie will appear in on-field segments. Game broadcasters Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya will weigh in at some point. Here’s some information on what to expect from the game broadcast.
The entertainment portion includes Elliott and figure skating analysts Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski interviewing celebrities (we shall refer to this as the AssKiss and Cry part of the show in honor of the skaters).
Weir and Lipinski will also spend a day with the wives of Patriots and Seahawks players during Super Bowl week, and that has great potential. Elliott has an interview with Super Bowl halftime headliner Katy Perry.
As has become tradition, the Super Bowl pregame show will include an interview with the President of the United States. NBC News and Today Show anchor Savannah Guthrie landed the plum gig. She will conduct a live interview with President Barack Obama from The White House in the 4 p.m. hour.
The sports interviews include a Costas sit-down with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady; Patrick interviewing Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson; Dungy interviewing Seattle coach Pete Carroll, cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Earl Thomas; Harrison siting down with New England tight end Rob Gronkowski and Elliott with Seahawks wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse. Flood said the format of the show will constantly adjust this week to put the most relevant pieces on later in the show. Viewers should expect the Brady and Wilson interviews to appear late in the pregame.
One feature that looks promising: NBC Sports producers visited the hometowns of six players scheduled to play in the game -- Brady, Jamie Collins and Patrick Chung of the Patriots, and Wilson, Thomas and Jon Ryan for the Seahawks -- and spoke with the people who made an impact on their lives, including former coaches, teachers and friends. The one-minute vignettes were produced by Jack Felling and Dave Picker.
Among the other highlights:
• Costas has a one-on-one conversation with International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach about the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, and Boston’s bid for the 2024 Summer Games.
• Correspondent Jimmy Roberts will front a piece on the three fans known to have attended every Super Bowl to date.
• Soccer fans will enjoy an appearance from The Men In Blazers duo of Michael Davies and Roger Bennett. Also scheduled to appear during the pregame is NBC Premier League host Rebecca Lowe, who will update the scores and standings of the Premier League.