Column Includes Inside Look at SNF Preparation and Broadcast from Executive Producer Fred Gaudelli
“One thing I appreciate about being the executive producer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football team is that we’re a lot like a football team.” – Gaudelli
FMIA Also Features Gaudelli’s Top Ranked Games, His Thoughts About Instant Replay and Reasoning to Keep Overtime Rules Unchanged
STAMFORD, Conn. – June 3, 2019 – In the latest edition of Peter King’s Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com, guest writer Fred Gaudelli, the executive producer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football, details a typical week’s schedule preparing for and broadcasting primetime television’s #1 show for an unprecedented eight consecutive years.
Gaudelli, who is entering his 30th season producing primetime NFL games and his 14th with NBC, also ranks the top six games he’s witnessed throughout his three decades of work.
FMIA includes Gaudelli’s thoughts on how instant replay impacts today’s game and his reasoning to keep regular-season and postseason overtime rules the same.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
A WEEK PRODUCING “SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL”
Gaudelli: “I’m like a head coach. I lead a production team of about 15 talented assistant producers. Each assistant has a specialized area of responsibility…During game weeks, I meet several times with each assistant to plot the editorial/creative strategy for the upcoming game. They present their ideas and I weigh in with mine, and we get aligned with the plan coming into the game.”
Gaudelli: “Then there’s Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth (in the booth). A great production will never make up for mediocre announcers. But great announcers with ambitious, solid production makes for a terrific viewing experience. The audience plugs in to the announcers and judges their experience by how much they enjoy listening to them.”
Highlights from Gaudelli’s game week
Monday: “Watch the game we’ve just done and grade it in all areas (individual performances and team execution) for discussion and review in Wednesday’s full production staff meeting.”
Tuesday: “Review last week’s telecast with Cris and Al separately. Spoiler alert: When you have these two there’s not a lot of fixing to do. Al still has a kid-like excitement for big games. Cris and I mostly talk about how we covered the football aspect of the show.”
Wednesday: “First big all-staff meeting of the week, a 2.5-hour Sunday Night Football staff meeting…I start by presenting general business items for the week, then select one person from the team to present a review of the previous telecast.”
Thursday: “Fly to the city of the Sunday night game (usually in the afternoon)…First thing I do when I get in my hotel room is set up my “office” where I can see the TV… I use it as pre-test. As situations come up during the Thursday telecast, I execute them in my mind the way my instincts and preparation tell me. It’s good warmup for Sunday night.”
Friday: “Attend practice of the home team. This is the best part of my week and the most informative. You learn an awful lot by watching practice…Meet with (home team) coach, quarterback and two other players who we deem to have significant roles on Sunday. Another fun and productive part of the job.”
Saturday: “Meet the visiting team at its hotel. Meet with coach, quarterback and two players…Head back to my room and spend the night trying to organize everything I’ve learned about these two teams.”
Sunday: “About seven hours before the game, I head to the stadium…We start a two-hour rehearsal at our mobile unit six-and-a-half hours before the game…At about 6 p.m., the referee and replay official visit the truck…At 8:13, we are live.”
GAUDELLI’S BEST GAMES FROM THE PAST 30 YEARS
- Super Bowl XLIII – Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 23. James Harrison’s 100-yard interception for TD to end the half, Larry Fitzgerald’s insane fourth quarter and Santonio Holmes gets both big toes down in the corner of the end zone to win it.
- Super Bowl XLIX – New England 28, Seattle 24. Malcolm Butler steals Seattle’s bid for back-to-back Super Bowl titles. By the way, this is still the most-watched television show in American history.
- 1999 AFC Wild Card Game – Tennessee 22, Buffalo 16: The Music City Miracle.
- Super Bowl LII – Philadelphia 41, New England 33. The Philly Special, and Brady throws for 505 yards and loses the game. Nick Foles magic. He deserved it.
- 2003 MNF on ABC Green Bay 41, Oakland 7. It’s the best and most memorable performance under adversity that I have ever seen. Brett Favre, the night after father Irvin unexpectedly died, threw for four touchdowns and 399 yards, and made a couple of miracle throws.
- 2015 Divisional Playoff Game – Arizona 26, Green Bay 20. The overtime coin toss begins with a coin that didn’t flip and the Packers yelling for Referee Clete Blakeman to flip it again, which he did. Cardinals win toss. Larry Fitzgerald finishes off the Pack in three plays.
Gaudelli: “I have never been in favor of instant replay in any sport…I feel no matter the sport, replay just saps the drama out of games and makes them longer than they have to be. Football would be better without instant replay. Somewhere we evolved from Let’s correct the egregious mistake to Let’s examine every score and turnover frame by frame.”
Gaudelli: “Like life itself, sports were never intended to be perfect. Sometimes you have to live with an unfair result. I don’t have hard data to support what I’m about to say, but I would guesstimate that professional officials in the major sports get 95% of their calls correct.”
Gaudelli: “However, I know that I am in the minority here. Because of technology fans want every call to be right or made right. Therefore, our role in NFL officiating must be taken seriously because the league and the fans depend on it. For officiating purposes only, five years ago we added 4K cameras—with four times the pixels of regular cameras, enabling us to zoom in tight on replays and see crystal-clear views—shooting down each goal line and each sideline.”
Gaudelli: “I think the NFL should keep the overtime rule as is for regular season and postseason games. I know everyone wanted to see Patrick Mahomes with the ball one more time in the AFC Championship Game, but football is a three-phase game. You can win or lose the game in any one of them.”
Read the rest of the column here.
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on NBCSN’s and NBC Sports Radio’s PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.
—FOOTBALL MORNING IN AMERICA—