NBC KICKS OFF THE 2006 NFL SEASON ON SEPT 7 WITH MIAMI AT PITTSBURGH; 'NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL' DEBUTS SEPT 10 WITH MANNING AGAINST MANNING
Ebersol on Getting Started: "The excitement is overwhelming. No flop sweat, just pure excitement."
Madden on Bettis: "He has an infectious personality. You just see Jerome and you smile."
NEW YORK � September 6, 2006 � NBC kicks off the 2006 NFL season Thursday, September 7, as the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers host Daunte Culpepper and the Miami Dolphins, 8 p.m. ET presented in high definition. NFL Kickoff 2006 will feature performances from Rascal Flatts in Pittsburgh and Diddy from South Beach in Miami.
"NBC Sunday Night Football" debuts Sunday, September 10 with the highly-anticipated Manning brothers showdown as Eli Manning and the New York Giants host Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts at 8 p.m. ET, preceded by the inaugural "Football Night in America" studio show at 7 p.m.
Al Michaels (play-by-play), John Madden (analyst) and Andrea Kremer (sideline reporter) will call all the action. Bob Costas (host) and Cris Collinsworth (co-host), joined by analysts Sterling Sharpe, Jerome "The Bus" Bettis and Sports Illustrated's Peter King, comprise the "Football Night in America" studio team.
"NBC Sunday Night Football," the premier primetime game of the week, will be preceded by the "Football Night in America" studio show, which kicks off NBC's coverage each Sunday at 7 p.m. "Football Night in America" will offer a complete look at all the day's action in the NFL including analysis and highlights.
The "Football Night in America" studio, just down the hall from the famed Studio 8H, home of "Saturday Night Live," was built in the former studio home of first the Philco Television Playhouse (1948-1955) and later for game shows Concentration (1958-1973) and Jeopardy (1964-1975), and talk shows Donahue (1984-1996) and The Rosie O'Donnell Show (1996-2002), and shares the "SNL" control room for the football season. The "Football Night" set was designed and built by Jeremy Conway - the former set designer for "Sex in the City." Two 103" high definition Panasonic plasma screen televisions � roughly the size of a queen-size mattress � are two of the set innovations.
NBC today conducted a teleconference with NBC Universal Chairman Dick Ebersol, who will serve as Executive Producer for "NBC Sunday Night Football," Madden, Collinsworth, and Sharpe, previewing NBC's NFL broadcast coverage. For a replay of the call, dial 719-457-0820 and enter passcode: 9155441. Highlights of the call follow:
EBERSOL ON NBC GETTING STARTED:
" I can't think of anything other than being an eight- or nine year-old kid and my parents holding me back upstairs on Christmas morning with my hopes high that there will be a new bike under the tree or something like that. We've waited, a lot of us at NBC now, 17 months since the deal was announced and almost eight-and-a half-years since we did our last NFL game. The excitement is overwhelming. No flop sweat, just pure excitement."
MADDEN ON APPROACHING THE FIRST GAME WITH NBC:
"I agree with Dick how exciting this is, NBC and the new team and getting started on our great endeavor. And Pittsburgh, it's unbelievable the excitement here in this town that is left over from the Super Bowl. These people are going to come out tomorrow night and be ready to celebrate last year's team and look forward to this year's team. And then go right there from here to New York. That is the celebration of the opening of the NFL season and it's just great to be a part of it."
MADDEN ON THE THURSDAY NIGHT SEASON OPENER:
"Well I'm the purist and I was the one that really wanted to have a celebration. I always felt that baseball did such a good job. They made the opening day of baseball a celebration, and in football we didn't. We just kind of started playing. I thought that there ought to be more to it than that. We came up with a great ending, the Super Bowl, and we came up with a lousy start. And we had to do something to spruce up our start, and this is what they did, and I think it's great."
COLLINSWORTH ON THE THURSDAY OPENER:
"The thing that I really like about it is when you have 32 teams playing on the opening weekend, there's no way to really focus on anything. The world champions deserve a moment. The world champions deserve to have the spotlight on them, the nation watching them, their fans celebrating with them, and that being the moment that kicks off the season. To me, it just feels right."
MADDEN ON BETTIS AND STEELERS:
"I can see where the Steelers miss him off the field because he has an infectious personality. You just see Jerome and you smile. He's that type of guy. You know what kind of football player he was. I mean he was big, he was strong and he was tough at short yardage and goal line. You know he had a body of a fullback, he ran like a tailback and all those things. But he's a good guy. People just kind of gravitate to him. We were talking to QB Charlie Batch last night and he lockered right next to him and Jerome had so much stuff and so many people around his locker that he had two lockers. It's all those things, that he was such a big part of Steeler football on the field and in the locker room and they're really missing that and what they miss is what we picked up at NBC."
EBERSOL ON "FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA" STUDIO SHOW:
"We will hit on all of the stories of the day. We will have reporters at every game and we will be talking to them and to the principles. We'll start rolling out the highlights at around 15 minutes past the hour [7:15 ET] and the highlights will run pretty heavily from that point to some time past 8 p.m. ET. I'll tell you one thing. When your readers see this set on Sunday Night it'll be unlike anything they've ever seen before. Starting with the plasma high definition screens that frame the talent on the set."
SHARPE ON STUDIO SHOW SET:
"Having the chance to work with two different networks for the last two years, it is definitely different from what I have become accustomed to seeing. I think that's what Americans are going to say when they see it as well."
EBERSOL ON STUDIO INTERACTING WITH GAME CREW:
"You may see a little bit of Jerome near the beginning of the telecast tomorrow night because he has such a unique perspective of what's happened to this team since the Super Bowl both about what's going to happen on the field tomorrow night and what's happened in the offseason. Ordinarily, it's going to be much more in the second half of our telecasts, because one of the things we are going to do over the course of the night, we won't stop in the middle of a barnburner and start talking about something else. But on many a Sunday night, you'll get an opportunity over the course of the second half to hear, for example, what John has to say about the events of the day. This is the first time the biggest game is going to be played on Sunday night, the same day that almost all the teams play. Whether it's Cris or Sterling or Jerome interacting with John or Bob and Al, most of the interaction's going to take place in the second half. And it's going to be about the main themes in the league that day. The big upset, the controversy, the team that surprisingly dominated what was thought to be a much stronger team. All these people are good and most of all, they really have a knowledge of the game and they're not afraid to share it."
MADDEN ON STUDIO INTERACTING WITH GAME ANNOUNCERS:
"Anytime you can have dialogue or interaction between more people the better especially with the credibility of Cris and Sterling and Jerome and Bob, those are great people. You can say well interaction is good, yeah interaction is pretty good, but you have interaction with credibility I think can be very good."
COLLINSWORTH ON STUDIO SHOW:
"The biggest problem we have, it's just an hour and fifteen minute show. We do promise though we're going to turn it over to John and Al at some point, although we're really having a good time in here doing what we're doing, doing some rehearsals. I'm looking forward to, as much as anything, sitting in the production room from 1 p.m. to whenever it is we come out, and just watching the game with these guys, because it is a very spirited group. We all have our opinions, there are plenty of arguments that go on before we ever hit the air, so then we just have to pick out which arguments we're going to take to the air, and do it that way. There seems to be such a diverse set of opinions on the crew that if it does carry over, and obviously I don't think in week one we're going to be what we're going to be in week 10 like anybody else when you put new people together, but I can just tell you this: I've been on a lot of shows, I've been on a lot of different networks and done a lot of different things, but I don't think I've had more fun doing anything than I have hanging around with Jerome and Sterling and Bob and Peter King. And I've got to say that the great element of our show that people have not discussed yet is Peter King. That guy is more connected to this league than anybody I've ever been around in the National Football League, and the access we're going to have to the decision makers, the stars, the heroes, the goats, immediately following the game because of Peter King, I hope it's going to set us apart."
SHARPE RESPONDING TO COLLINSWORTH:
"I think that's the big thing that America's going to love about us, is that we're all taught football differently, and that's what makes us such a very interesting group. Having an opportunity to disagree with Jerome Bettis who just finished playing, or wonder why Bob Costas said it the way he just said it. I think that's wonderful. I think another element is being able to have some back and forth with John and those guys at the game site. It's just something that hasn't been seen before on TV, and as excited as we are to work with each other, I think we're just as giddy to be able to have Al and John come into our studio throughout our hour and fifteen minutes as well."
MORE COLLINSWORTH ON STUDIO SHOW:
"I go back to Monday Night Baseball when I was a kid growing up, and watching Al Michaels and Cosell and Jim Palmer. I thought that if I watched that one baseball game, I was essentially caught up in the world of baseball. They were giving me a little bit of what was going on throughout the whole day, so we're hoping in our hour and fifteen minutes, that if that's all you watch during the course of the week, that you will have a pretty good understand of the issues, and what's going on with all these teams and not just so much who scored the touchdowns on Sunday."
SHARPE ON MANNING BROTHERS SAYING THE GAME IS NOT ABOUT THEM:
"It's about them. The winner of this football is one step closer to being in the Super Bowl. I went through that -- I got the chance to play against my brother twice. And it just so happens that two years after I retired my brother's team and my old team ended up in the Super Bowl. So you definitely think about it. But I think the one entity that a lot of people have forgotten about or are not talking about is what Archie and his wife are going through. Because I think they are in the worst situation. Worse than Eli or Peyton because the loser of this football game is going to win enough games to get their team in the playoffs I believe. But the parents, it's painful for the parents to go through a game like this."
COLLINSWORTH ON MANNING BROTHERS:
"This is the one time that you don't need football analysts. You really don't. Anybody that has ever had a brother or a sister, and you know when you go out to the driveway and you are playing a game of basketball, I don't care how much you love your sibling, you want to beat them when you get out there. Because not only is it going to last for that moment -- you play your next door neighbor and he is going to go home to his house and everybody splits up -- but you're playing your brother, that means that there is dinner at night, Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays. The last time that these two guys played each other was in a basketball game in their yard when Eli was in college and Peyton hadn't played him for a long time because Eli was five years younger. They both happened to be home and Eli ended up winning the game with a slam- dunk over Peyton. And so that now sets the scene for this whole thing. That's the whole background for understanding what this game is all about."
MADDEN ON MANNING MATCHUP:
"It's one that they are going to live with forever. Win or lose. It's going to be brought up at Christmases and Thanksgiving and it's going to be five years from now, 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 30 years from now, they are still going to be talking about who won that game."
MADDEN ON LOSS OF BETTIS AND STEELERS PROSPECTS:
"Just being around the Steelers, you can all tell that they all miss him [Bettis]. That's what they talk about not only on the field but off the field. Now this Roethlisberger thing really threw them. They got him back after the motorcycle incident, they thought he's back, ready to play. But the Steelers seem to be the type of team that are very resilient. You don't want that stuff, you don't look forward to having it but when you do get it, they bounce back, and I think the thing that you have to realize is this is a team that's build running the ball and strong defense, and their defense hasn't changed. Their defense is very, very, very good and I think that's going to be able to carry them."
COLLINSWORTH ON STEELERS:
"All during the preseason I was hearing that Roethlisberger wanted to do what they're doing in Cincinnati and Indianapolis and go to the no-huddle and open it up and all that sort of thing. And now with Charlie Batch being in as the quarterback, they may have been trying to open it up with Roethlisberger and do some things, and they'll probably now be going back to what delivered the world championship for them last year, which is going back to basics and being simple, winning on defense and with the running game."
MADDEN ON THE NFL CONSTANTLY CHANGING:
"Football changes all the time. We've been here in Pittsburgh for a couple days. We went and watched the Steelers practice last night and watched their film and film of the Dolphins, and they do so many different things. You just look at the Steelers defense, and they go from a three-man line to a two-man line, six defensive backs, three linebackers, and all those things. And I think just capturing the changes in the football is such a challenge that you can't say, 'well, we'll do it like we did it last year,' because the teams don't play like they did last year. In fact, in the NFL now, the teams darn near don't play like they did the week before. So I think that's the challenge. We have all this equipment, we can make all these pictures but knowing what's going on, and getting the right pictures, and keeping up with what the football is today, that will always be our biggest challenge, and that's where the game will always be different each week."
EBERSOL ON WHAT JOHN WILLIAMS THEME MUSIC:
"That music has to be very special. It has to have a sense of drama, it has to have a sense of power, things that are unique to the great American game of professional football. And he has delivered that just so tremendously. It's just quite a treat, and there are many very different parts to what he's given us. There's one piece of music that will take you through "Football Night In America" and there are several that will take you through Sunday Night Football as we first come on the air, go through commercials, go in and out of commercials, replays within the body of the game. It's really some pretty breathtaking and powerful stuff."
NFL ON NBC BROADCAST TEAM
The most honored NFL broadcaster of all time, "NBC Sunday Night Football" analyst John Madden has won an unprecedented 15 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Sports Analyst/Personality and is renowned by football fans nationwide for his ability to analyze the details of the game with wit, candor and an inimitable style. Prior to joining the broadcasting ranks, Madden had an outstanding career as head coach of the Oakland Raiders. He guided the Raiders to an overall record of 103-32-7, leading the team to seven AFC Western Division titles and a victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI. Madden's .759 regular season winning percentage is the best of any head coach in NFL history.
Al Michaels, one of the most renowned sports broadcasters of all time and the commentator called "TV's best play-by-play announcer" by the Associated Press, will call play-by-play alongside Madden. One of television's most respected journalists, Michaels has covered more major sports events than any other sportscaster, and has appeared on live primetime broadcast network television more than any person in history. Michaels is the only play-by-play commentator/host to cover the four major sports championships: the Super Bowl (6 times), World Series (8), NBA Finals (2) and the Stanley Cup Final (3).
Joining Michaels and Madden are: Bob Costas, the most honored studio host of all time with 19 Emmy Awards, who will host NBC's "Football Night in America" studio show alongside co-host Cris Collinsworth, the most honored studio analyst in history with six Emmy Awards; and analysts Sterling Sharpe, a five-time Pro Bowler and Jerome Bettis, one of the most popular players in recent NFL history. "NBC Sunday Night Football" coverage also includes sideline and feature reporter Andrea Kremer, whom the Los Angeles Times has called "the best TV interviewer in the business of covering the NFL." Peter King, who covers the NFL for Sports Illustrated and is considered one of the country's foremost NFL reporters, serves as a reporter for the "Football Night in America" studio show.
NBC'S 2006 NFL SCHEDULE
Thursday, Sept 7 � NFL Kickoff 2006: Miami at Pittsburgh
(Sunday coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET with "Football Night in America" studio show)
Sunday, Sept. 10 � Indianapolis at NY Giants
Sunday, Sept. 17 � Washington at Dallas
Sunday, Sept. 24 � Denver at New England
Sunday, Oct. 1 � Seattle at Chicago
Sunday, Oct. 8 � Pittsburgh at San Diego
Sunday, Oct. 15 � Oakland at Denver
Sunday, Oct. 29 � Dallas at Carolina
Sunday, Nov. 5 � Indianapolis at New England
Flexible Scheduling Weeks 10-15
Monday, Dec. 25 (Christmas Day) � Philadelphia at Dallas
Flexible Scheduling Week 17