“THE NFL ON CBS” TRAVELS TO PITTSBURGH FOR
2009 AMERICAN FOOTBALL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AS
STEELERS HOST BALTIMORE RAVENS LIVE ON CBS ON SUNDAY, JAN. 18
AUDIBLES WITH “NFL ON CBS” LEAD ANALYST PHIL SIMMS AND
“THE NFL TODAY’S” DAN MARINO, BILL COWHER AND SHANNON SHARPE
THE NFL ON CBS concludes its 49th season covering the National Football League when it travels to Pittsburgh, Pa. for the 2009 American Football Conference Championship Game on Sunday, Jan. 18 (6:30 PM, ET) as the AFC North champions and No. 2-seeded PITTSBURGH STEELERS (13-4) host division rival and the No. 6-seeded BALTIMORE RAVENS (13-5), live on CBS.
CBS Sports’ lead announce team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms call the action, along with Steve Tasker reporting, from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Lance Barrow is coordinating producer of THE NFL ON CBS and lead game producer and Mike Arnold is the lead game director.
CBS Sports’ coverage of THE NFL ON CBS begins with THE NFL TODAY, the Network’s pre-game studio show, on Sunday (6:00 PM, ET) with host James Brown and analysts Dan Marino, Boomer Esiason, Shannon Sharpe and Bill Cowher, as well as NFL TODAY “General Manager” Charley Casserly, and Lesley Visser and Sam Ryan reporting, live from THE NFL TODAY studio at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City.
Eric Mann is senior producer and Bob Matina is director of THE NFL TODAY.
Sean McManus is President, CBS News and Sports and serves as the executive producer for the Network’s coverage of the NFL. Harold Bryant is Vice President, Production, CBS Sports.
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Following are excerpts from the AFC Championship Game conference call on January 13.
(On unique situation of being in charge of CBS News and Sports during a historic week with AFC Championship on Sunday and the Presidential Inauguration on Tuesday)
SEAN McMANUS: It’s about compartmentalizing your day and compartmentalizing your attention. When we are talking about the Inauguration I am completely focused on that. And when we are talking about the AFC Championship I’m focused on that game. It’s a lot of fun but I do find myself sometimes mixing up words and mixing up descriptions. I don’t want to talk to the CBS News folks about blitzes and everything else, then talk to the Sports guys about security for our correspondents down there (in Washington). So it’s fun, but the two do sometimes get mixed up a little bit.
(On years of experience covering live sports being applied to coverage of Inauguration)
McMANUS: Overall, not just the Inauguration, we’ll have further emphasis on really descriptive graphics and trying to do as much live bouncing around. I think we have eight live correspondents down in Washington in every conceivable location. The approach that I’ve always taken is the more you can do live, and the more you can do immediate in news is probably better assuming you can add the right perspective. I approach a big production like the Inauguration the exact same way I approach a production like the football game, which is you’re there to tell the story and set up your on-air talent in the most advantageous possible way. And, look at it as a live event, which is basically storytelling. [There are] a lot of similarities.
(On Baltimore-Pittsburgh rivalry in AFC Championship Game)
BILL COWHER: It’s a rivalry that goes way back from the time that Cleveland moved to Baltimore. And it really probably started right around when they started getting pretty good. Any rivalry has to do with the attitude of the football teams. This rivalry is very simple – it’s based on two teams that think they have the best defense. That has been the very beginning of the talking that has taken place. Then when you have two teams that win, and play the type of football where they pride themselves on being physical, pride themselves on being tough, it makes for a very physical football game.
(On which quarterback is under most pressure to win this weekend)
COWHER: I would probably say Donovan McNabb only from the standpoint of when you look at (Joe) Flacco, anything he has done to this point he has surpassed it (expectations). Even with Kurt Warner, he has surpassed expectations…There has been so much scrutiny on Donovan, and the talk about the benching and what he has done from that standpoint.
PHIL SIMMS: I say Donovan McNabb. Anytime you ask a question like this, I say, ‘Well, Philadelphia quarterback no matter what the year, what the scenario is.’ And if the Philadelphia Eagles lose, no matter what happens…it will be bitter disappointment and all the good feelings that a lot of people have will turn right around the other way and they will point out all the faults that happened during the game that caused them to lose. Nothing but a Super Bowl championship right now is going to satisfy a lot of people across the country, and especially in the Philadelphia area, when it comes to Donovan McNabb.
(On Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco)
DAN MARINO: The question I always ask about a young quarterback is, can the guy really throw it? When you have a young guy, does he have a big arm? Can he make all the throws? That’s the one thing to me that is so impressive about Joe Flacco – his arm strength and his ability to put it on the line, use the outside of the field where he can throw outs and comebacks. It seems effortless. Also his movement in the pocket. For a rookie, he has a really good sense of the pocket presence and how to move to keep his body in position to be able to throw the ball…I think he is excellent that way.
(On Donovan McNabb – is he a revived player?)
SIMMS: I don’t know if he’s a revived player. Everything he is doing I’ve seen him do so many times and we all get a little jaded. We got tired of the “Donovan McNabb story” so we wrote him off and let’s move on to the next guy. Then you really sit back (and think)…He’s big and strong, there is no question about that. He can still move around even though he’s been in the NFL a long time. And without question he has one of the most powerful throwing arms there is. He is a leader in the locker room. The players like him. So why do we doubt him? And why are we surprised at the way he is playing now? Maybe it is his motivation. Maybe it is Andy Reid’s ability to rally his players a little bit, get them a little more organized and hopeful. He (McNabb) focused in. Maybe it was the benching, the way he was treated. There are a lot of reasons. I don’t know what he is doing mentally, if he is angry? If he is, keep it up. But the focus seems to be there. They really seem like they believe in what they’re doing. And Donovan McNabb – a lot of confidence, and especially of late, throwing the football as well as you can throw it. His game against the New York Giants, in those elements against that team, the numbers lie. His numbers were not great but his performance was borderline spectacular.
(On Baltimore’s Ed Reed)
COWHER: As I’m looking at that team (Baltimore), the one guy you have to be aware of is Ed Reed. Ben (Roethlisberger) will be looking at him from the time he steps under center until the time he gets rid of the ball. He’s going to have to move him and be aware of him at all times. This guy is a ball hawk and he will jump patterns. If he (Roethlisberger) starts staring someone down he (Reed) will leave where he is supposed to be and will go to the ball. You have to be very careful playing against him.
(On Baltimore’s Ray Lewis)
SHANNON SHARPE: Most great players have passion…Ray has put the time in the film room because he wanted to be great. When he’s done with the game and you talk about linebackers, when you talk about defensive players, he wants you to mention his name. He is very conscious of his place in history as far as a defensive player, and as a player in the National Football League. The biggest thing about him, some guys are born to lead. Ray is a born leader. When he talks, they listen.
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