Rivalry in the Heartland – Special 15-Minute Film to Air in Football Night About History of Bears-Packers Nine-Decade Rivalry
Heartwarming Feature on Unique Bears-Packers Connection to also Air
“There is hope for the Chicago Bears.” – Rodney Harrison
“They are a little bit vulnerable.” – Tony Dungy on Packers
Sunday Night Football is Most-Watched and Highest-Rated Show of Primetime Television Season
NEW YORK – December 22, 2011 – One of the NFL’s oldest rivalries resumes as the Green Bay Packers (13-1) host the Chicago Bears (7-7) in the only NFL game to be played on Christmas on Sunday Night Football, the most-watched and highest-rated show on primetime television. With a win, the Packers will wrap up home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, while the Bears are facing a must-win to remain in the hunt for an NFC Wild Card spot.
Calling Bears-Packers will be six-time Emmy Award-winner Al Michaels (play-by-play), in his 26th season as the voice of the NFL’s premier primetime package; 12-time Emmy Award-winner Collinsworth, who won the Emmy for outstanding event analyst in both of his seasons in the Sunday Night Football booth; and sideline reporter Michele Tafoya, in her first season on SNF.
Coverage begins Sunday with Football Night in America at 7 p.m. ET with 22-time Emmy Award-winner Bob Costas hosting the program live from inside historic Lambeau Field. Costas is joined on site by Michaels and Collinsworth for reaction to the afternoon games.
Dan Patrick co-hosts Football Night from Studio 8G at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza studios and is joined by Super Bowl-winning head coach Tony Dungy, two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison, Peter King of Sports Illustrated and Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk on NBCSports.com.
Because of the unique Christmas-night broadcast, Football Night will present two long-form features that capture the spirit of the holidays (Transplant) as well as intensity of the Bears-Packers rivalry (Rivalry in the Heartland).
Football Night traveled to Illinois and Wisconsin to tell the story of a 30+-year Bears season-ticket holder and father of three, who, two years ago, was in need of a liver transplant. As he was losing strength and hope, a match was found from a 32-year-old Wisconsin mother, who died suddenly of a brain aneurysm.
When the liver recipient began corresponding with the donor’s parents, he learned that they were all Packers fans, giving him and his family new perspective on the rivalry, particularly after last season’s NFC Championship game, when the Packers defeated the Bears.
Two weeks ago, the families met for the first time. One family’s loss allowed another to stay together, and the Bears fan to keep attending games with his family members.
RIVALRY IN THE HEARTLAND
This Sunday, Football Night presents a special, extended, in-depth look inside the stories and people behind the NFL’s most-constant, hardest-hitting rivalry, dating back nine decades to the dawn of the league: Bears vs. Packers.
The teams will meet for the 184th time on Christmas night on Sunday Night Football. The film, Rivalry in the Heartland, is nearly 15 minutes long, and features interviews with current and former star players and coaches, including Aaron Rodgers, Brian Urlacher, Paul Hornung, Jim McMahon, Mike Ditka, Donald Driver, Lovie Smith, Willie Davis and a number of fans of both teams, who bring the passion and intensity of the rivalry and the contrasting styles of the cities to life.
The film showcases the memorable but not always lovable characters from the franchises’ early years and legendary championship teams led by Halas and Lombardi, right through modern times with the Fridge and Favre and last year’s NFC Championship Game.
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HARRISON AND DUNGY ON BEARS CHANCES TO BEAT PACKERS
Harrison: “There is hope for the Chicago Bears. Looking at how the Chiefs beat the Packers, the formula is rushing the passer, playing tight man-to-man coverage and putting pressure on Aaron Rodgers and those banged up offensive linemen.”
Dungy: “I know Rod Marinelli, the defensive coordinator for the Bears. He coached for me. He’s going to go for the jugular. He’s going to tell those defensive linemen, ‘We have to win the game. They’ve got offensive linemen hurt. We’ve got to pressure them and we’ve got to win it up front.’”
DUNGY ON IF PACKERS ARE INVINCIBLE: “They really aren’t. You saw shades of it all year and (the loss against the Chiefs) really brought it out. They are not running the ball well. They are not defending well, and not getting the takeaways. So they are a little bit vulnerable.”
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SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL DOMINATES PRIMETIME
Through 16 weeks of the NFL season (15 Sunday’s and one Thursday), Sunday Night Football is averaging 21.0 million viewers, and a household rating of 12.7/20.
- For the primetime television season,* Sunday Night Football ranks as the most-watched (persons 2+) and highest-rated show, and the No. 1 program across the key demographics of Adults 18-49, 18-34, 25-54 as well as Men 18-49, 18-34 and 25-54, based on Nielsen live + same day data. Additionally, SNF is the No. 5 show among Women 18-34 behind only New Girl, Modern Family, Glee and Grey’s Anatomy.
*NOTE: The primetime television season began on Sept. 19 and does not include the first three NBC primetime games (Thursday night NFL Kickoff Opener and first two SNF games).
· The critically acclaimed Football Night in America is the most-watched and highest-rated NFL pregame show averaging 8.7 million viewers and a household rating of 5.3/9 (7:30-8:15 p.m. ET) through 15 weeks, the most in the six-year history of Football Night.
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REMAINING 2011 SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Sun. Dec. 25 Week 16 Bears at Packers
Sun. Jan. 1 *Week 17 TBA
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