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  • NBC Sports Executive Producer Fred Gaudelli discusses how to prepare for a Super Bowl broadcast.
By Richard Deitsch
January 28, 2018

“Whenever I do the Patriots, I am on high alert for something I have never seen before,” said NBC Sports executive producer Fred Gaudelli, who will produce Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4, the sixth time Gaudelli has served as the producer of the Super Bowl. “These guys are brilliant and geniuses when it comes to designing plays and employing personnel. Right off the bat my antenna is up and very sensitive and I am just waiting for something that is unusual and I think Al [Michaels] and Cris [Collinsworth] would we say the same thing…I have somebody in my headset the entire game telling me “sub” or “no sub” because if the Patriots are going to sub, then I have time to do something else. If there is no sub, I am taking a good look at their huddle or whatever they are using to get their play called to see if there is time to do something else. The Patriots keep you on edge in a good way. The Eagles also run a little no-huddle and the sub/no sub person in my headset helps me a lot there. With the Eagles defensively, when they go with their sub-rush package when they have three defensive end on the field and Fletcher Cox lined up inside, that is something I always want to know because that’s going to slightly change the isolation pattern a little bit and who can be replayed on a certain play. But as 31 teams will tell you, the Patriots are the toughest team to prepare for.”

“You want to try to keep track of what players are in the game and what players are out of the game,” added Drew Esocoff, who will direct the game for NBC Sports, his sixth time as the director of the Super Bowl. “Fred talked a lot about change of pace offense and we spent a lot of time a couple of summers ago dissecting how to better prepare for teams that use a no-huddle. We prepare a basic cheat sheet for our camera folks — what are the critical shots, whether it’s the quarterback calling a signal, whether it’s the defensive player with the green dot on his helmet counter-acting that. Cable-cam has been a very valuable resource telling all those story with a one shot. But the critical thing is to make sure that we are prompt in getting back for the snap of the ball so the game does not take on a sloppy visual presentation. “

As the guests on Episode 158 of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast, Gaudelli, the executive producer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football and the network’s Thursday Night Football series and Esocoff, the director of NBC’s Sunday Night Football and the network’s Thursday Night Football series, discussed how they plan to prepare for the Super Bowl along with a multitude of other topics. Those included what worries them the most about the broadcast; how Super Bowl preparation is different than other postseason games; how the Patriots and Eagles impact what they will do; what kind of contingencies they have for a power outage or a terrorist attack; whether they are aware of prop bets that involve the broadcast; how they feel about the prospect of this being the last Super Bowl broadcast for Al Michaels; how young people can get to these type of positions in sports broadcasting; how they prepare for a blowout victory; how Gaudelli determines the right amount of replays; how they view the Super Bowl ratings in relation to what they do; the behind the scene mistakes that only they would about that have made it to air in past Super Bowls; the time they arrive for the game; the number of cameras at a Super Bowl and how many of these extra cameras are used during the game; why the Kentucky Derby is the hardest broadcast to do for sports television; and much more.

PODCAST BREAKDOWN:

1:20: What worries them the most about the Super Bowl.

2:30: How Super Bowl preparation is different compared to the postseason and regular season.

5:50: How do the Patriots and Eagles impact on how the game will be directed and edited?

9:30: How do prepare for a contingency such as a power outage or terrorism.

 11:50: How do they feel about the prop bets that exist on their broadcast.

13:30: How far away are we of the point spread being mentioned on an NFL broadcast.

14:30: The prospect of this being the last Super Bowl with Al Michaels.

15:50: How a young person can take a path to get this kind of job.

17:50: What is the truck like during an NFL blowout.

19:11: How do you determine the right amount of replays for an NFL game.

22:15: Why there is chemistry between Gaudelli and Esocoff.

26:30: How much they think about the viewership of the game.

28:00: Behind the scenes mistakes that have happened.

32:45: How a Super Bowl broadcast is remembered

35:30: Where they will be sitting for this year’s Super Bowl in Minneapolis.

36:30: The use of new cameras at the Super Bowl.

38:30: What is the hardest sport to them to produce and direct.

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