“Just thinking about it right now gives me goose bumps.” – NBC’s Madden
“There’s a tremendous air of mystery about this Super Bowl.” – NBC’s Michaels
NEW YORK – January 20, 2009 – NBC Sports conducted a media conference call today with John Madden (game analyst), Al Michaels (play-by-play) and Cris Collinsworth (studio analyst) to preview the matchup for Super Bowl XLIII. For a complete replay, dial 719-457-0820 and enter passcode 8504865. Highlights follow:
MADDEN ON UNPREDICTABILITY IN THE NFL: “The NFL should stand for ‘Never Figure League.’ The minute you think you know what’s going to happen, you realize you don’t know a thing. Here we are with Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl. That’s the great thing about the NFL. You don’t have a vote. People ask if this is a good thing for NBC? It doesn’t make a difference. The teams that play the best at this time earn the right to play in the Super Bowl, and both of these teams earned that right. They both deserve to be here. I was going to leave on Thursday, but I’m going to leave tomorrow to get down there. I don’t want to miss a damn thing.”
COLLINSWORTH ON ARIZONA’S TRANSFORMATION: “This was a team that had two glaring holes coming into the playoffs. They couldn’t stop the run and they couldn’t run the ball. Edgerrin James and Hightower have taken care of that. And maybe the most surprising part of this whole thing has been the play of the defense of the Cardinals. I called them once in the playoff game against Atlanta, who, by the way, along with Carolina, were probably two of the best running teams in the NFL this year. It’s amazing that you can have that kind of transformation in a football team once the playoffs start. I’ve really only seen it one time and it was the Indianapolis Colts when they won the Super Bowl.”
MICHAELS ON THE CARDINALS: “I’m struck by the fact that the Arizona Cardinals have become a major story. Everybody’s talking about them, and I’m very excited about this matchup because we know about the Steelers, They have great tradition. In total contrast, nobody could have anticipated the Cardinals in the Super Bowl. There’s a tremendous air of mystery about this Super Bowl now. We know about the Kurt Warner story and Larry Fitzgerald has become a megastar almost as fast as anybody that I can recall. I can’t wait; this is going to be a lot of fun.”
MICHAELS ON WHO WILL WIN SUPER BOWL XLIII: “We can look at a hundred different things and you can say, ‘okay here’s what has to happen in a game for this team to win,’ but the beautiful thing about sports and about football is that you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
COLLINSWORTH ON SUPER BOWL XLIII MATCHUP: “If you had said at the beginning of the playoffs that it would be a Pittsburgh-Arizona Super Bowl, a lot of people would have thought it wasn’t the best matchup for NBC or the Super Bowl, but now you look at what the Cardinals team has done, in particular offensively against tremendous defenses, there is an opportunity to see one of the best against one of the best. We all know about the Pittsburgh Steelers defense and what they’ve done.”
COLLINSWORTH ON THE STEELERS’ DEFENSE: “They have the opportunity to make Kurt Warner look really bad. If you play against Pittsburgh and Dick LeBeau’s defense, they are that good. You can throw five interceptions against them every easily.”
MICHAELS ON CHANGES IN BROADCASTING THE SUPER BOWL: “The televising of football right now is just off the charts, it’s so phenomenal between HD and cable cam and all the rest. I was just sitting in my living room the other day watching those two games and you’re there. You’re right there. You’re in the game and the sound is great. It’s phenomenal. It’s the essence of live television. It’s unscripted and beautifully choreographed. The technology is terrific. If you’re in this business, there’s no better day than this.”
MADDEN ON CHANGES IN BROADCASTING THE SUPER BOWL: “Everything about the NFL, everything about television, I prefer the way it is right now. It’s a lot better in every area.”
MADDEN ON THE GAP BETWEEN SUPER BOWL WINNERS AND LOSERS: “The greatest gap in sports is between the winner and the loser of the Super Bowl. The winner has confetti, parades, rings, the whole thing. The loser puts his head down and goes to his house.”
COLLINSWORTH ON KURT WARNER: “If you can take the MVP vote at the end of the year instead of at the end of the regular season, he may well be MVP because of what he’s done with this football team. Being around that team, you understand how significant he is to that team. This was a team with no path, direction or experience, and they constantly turned to him and what a job he’s done. Fitzgerald has made the plays on the other end, but no one would deny that without Kurt Warner, who has this knowledge and experience of the playoffs, they would not be here.”
MADDEN ON FIRST-TIME HEAD COACHES: “Mike Tomlin is the blueprint for this. You get a young guy who can come in and prove that he can take over a team right away and win. Mike Tomlin is a great young coach but he goes in there with a Ben Roethlisberger, and one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL in Dick LeBeau, who is almost 70 years old. If you’re going to use something as a template, use the whole thing.”
COLLINSWORTH ON TODD HALEY: “The biggest winner out of Arizona’s run is Todd Haley. The brush-ups that were captured on TV last week showed not only can he put a game plan together, but that he can also handle himself on the sidelines during tough situations. For him to keep it together and call the plays to march the ball down the field really showed great presence. He has a great pedigree in football, taught by Bill Parcells with a minimalist approach. He’s a youthful, energetic guy, and I think he’ll be the coach in Kansas City and I think he’ll do a good job.”
ON WHISENHUNT’S AND GRIMM’S KNOWLEDGE OF THE STEELERS:
MADDEN: “I think it will be big, because they know Dick LeBeau, how he thinks and what he’s trying to do. That will help in preparation. You still have to get it down on the field, but that’s a plus for the Cardinals.”
COLLINSWORTH: It is the biggest advantage to come out of this. The Steelers know Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm, but Whisenhunt and Grimm know Roethlisberger and especially Dick LeBeau and his defense. He [LeBeau] creates confusion as well as anybody. He creates the illusion of pressure, even when there’s not pressure. He makes guys hurry up. Kurt Warner has his whole history of fumbling, but if he can hang in there and read this defense, then he has a chance.”
COLLINSWORTH ON KURT WARNER’S HALL OF FAME CHANCES: “I think he just got in. Making it to the Super Bowl with another team that was so totally unexpected. The force of his will carried this team over the top. I thought if he got them to the Super Bowl that would be enough.”
COLLINSWORTH ON FITZGERALD: “He’s off the charts with ability to make plays on the ball in the air. I don’t know what Larry Fitzgerald’s vertical leap is but he looks like Michael Jordan playing out there to me. If it’s a tie, you just throw it up in the air and Larry Fitzgerald comes down with it. He just has remarkable hands. I can remember the first time I ever saw Jerry Rice play. It was Mississippi Valley State. I happened to be flipping on the cable and I remember watching this kid, he must have caught twenty balls in this game. And he just snatched the ball so casually out of the air and I was like, come on it’s not that easy. I have not seen anybody, Cris Carter to some extent, who has been close to what Larry Fitzgerald has been, just so casually catching the football. It’s been really fun to watch.”
MICHAELS ON PREGAME RITUALS: “You’re probably just concentrating on how you want to get on the air. It’s more of that than anything else. I think you try to soak in the moment, too. How many people have the opportunity to do something like this?”
MADDEN ON PREGAME RITUALS: “We don’t have any special thing or any handshake or prayer or anything like that. I think about soaking in the moment and making a memory. How lucky we are to be here and to be doing this, the enormity of it. Just thinking about it right now gives me goose bumps.”
MICHAELS ON CALLING THE SUPER BOWL WITHOUT HAVING SEEN THE TEAMS THAT SEASON (ON SNF/MNF): “I think it would have been 1999 (2000 Super Bowl), which ironically was the last Kurt Warner Super Bowl, St. Louis against Tennessee. We went into that Super Bowl without having done either team that year and that was a great Super Bowl.”
MICHAELS ON WHY CARDINALS WERE NOT ON SNF SCHEDULE: “Look at the history of the team. They haven’t had very many winning seasons. They haven’t had a lot of success. So when you make the schedule up before the season, you aren’t looking at the Arizona Cardinals. I guarantee you one thing, they’ll be on Sunday Night next year, you can rest assured.”
NBC Sports’ coverage of the Super Bowl begins at Noon ET, Sunday, Feb. 1. Details of NBC’s pre-game programming will be announced later this week.
NBC & THE SUPER BOWL: Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa will mark the 16th broadcast by NBC, equaling CBS for the most Super Bowls broadcast by any network and its first since 1998, Super Bowl XXXII. In that Super Bowl played in San Diego, John Elway finally broke through for his first Super Bowl championship, as the Denver Broncos defeated Brett Favre and the defending champion Green Bay Packers, 31-24.
NBC has been home to some of the most historic games in NFL history, including: “The Greatest Game Ever Played” between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants (1958); Joe Namath’s “guarantee” in Super Bowl III (1969); the “Immaculate Reception” (1972); and “The Drive” (1987), when Elway marched the Broncos 98 yards for a game-tying touchdown and eventual victory in the AFC Championship Game.
NBC SPORTS’ SUPER BOWL XLIII MEDIA AVAILABILITIES:
Tuesday, Jan. 27
1:15 p.m. ET – Media conference call with Dick Ebersol, Fred Gaudelli, Madden and Al Michaels. Dial 913-312-0860 to participate and ask for the NBC Super Bowl call.
2-4 p.m. ET – Media availability with NBC production crew, game and studio broadcast teams from the Media Center on the 1st Floor of the Tampa Convention Center.
Wednesday, Jan. 28
1 p.m. ET – Media conference call with Costas, Collinsworth, Olbermann, Patrick, Bettis and Barber. Dial 913-312-1391 to participate and ask for the NBC Super Bowl Pre-Game call.