The CBS Super Bowl conference call on Tuesday with play-by-play man Jim Nantz, analyst Phil Simms and the producer and director of the San Francisco-Baltimore game Sunday addressed the usual questions.
Will there be anything different than usual in CBS presentation in New Orleans? (Yes, the graphics will look a little different).
What’s the over-under on how many times the coaching brothers, Jim (49er) and John Harbaugh (Ravens) will be shown on the sidelines? (A lot, after all this game is being called the Superbro or Harbowl in some quarters. I predict 50).
How many countries will be watching (Answer: Look in the press guide).
But there was only one question I wanted answered and I had to ask it.
How will CBS balance the coverage of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who has been glorified by some in what is supposed to be his last season despite being implicated in a double homicide 13 years ago in a case in which he eventually plead guilty to obstruction of justice?
I didn’t direct it to Nantz or Simms but I thought they would handle it. After CBS executive producer Harold Bryant noted Lewis’ story would be handled in the pregame show, I asked the on-air guys if they would care to chime in.
Nantz noted that he has never been one to glorify one player in a team sport.
“We’re a reaction business,” said Nantz. “We’ll figure it out.”’
“I’m going to judge him by his play on the field,” said Simms, noting that he’ll address if Lewis’ defensive play is as important to the Ravens as people think and whether his emotional level has raised the Ravens’ play.
“Who doesn’t know it?” said Simms of Lewis’ past. “I don’t know if there is time to do a story like that justice during the Super Bowl.”
CBS might downplay how they will deal with Lewis’ story during the game, but the broadcast and the announcers undoubtedly will be judged partly on whether they go too far glorifying a polarizing figure.
Nantz was happy to address the question of what he expects to be one of the biggest moments of the Super Bowl. He picked the post-game handshake at mid-field between the winning and losing Harbaugh brother.
“I can’t want to see that,” said Nantz. “I can’t wait to see what it is like. It is going to be one of the greatest moments ever. How much joy, how much despair? How are they going to balance that? That will be the ultimate angle. One winner, one loser in the biggest stakes of the sport. What are they going to look like? That’s what I can’t wait to see.”
Of course, many viewers are wondering what they are going to see on CBS’ pregame show that they haven’t seen all week from ESPN and the NFL Network coverage. I can’t imagine much will be new.
From the looks of a CBS release, the pregame show will feature several poignant stories. The features will include stories on the Harbaugh brothers (I saw a terrific one on ESPN this week); Ray Lewis; Baltimore’s O.J. Brigance, the senior advisor to player development, who is battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease; Indianapolis Coach Chuck Pagano, who battled leukemia this season; a high school player in Colorado who was shot in the Aurora movie theater shootings in July; the humanitarian efforts of New Orleans musicians Harry Connick and Branford Marsalis in their city; Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice; San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, tight end Vernon Davis, linebacker Patrick Wills and pass rushers Aldon and Justin Smith. And there will be a feature on player safety and the future of the game.
There also will be live musical performances by OneRepublic and Matchbox Twenty.
CBS News anchor Scott Pelley will interview President Obama live at 4:30 p.m., when you would think the President would be asked about his hypothetical comment that if he had a son he would have to think “long and hard” about whether to allow him to play football.
The Harbaugh brothers undoubtedly are happy their parents didn’t feel the same way decades ago when little was known about the dangerous long-time impact of concussions and the game’s violence.
According to a national media website, Channel 2 has hired a new anchor-reporter from the Fox affiliate in Little Rock, Ark. The website TV Spy reports that anchor-reporter Kelly Dudzik will arrive at the station on March 4. The website confirmed the hiring with Channel 2 News Director Jeff Woodard but didn’t say what Dudzik’s role would be.
General Manager Jim Toellner told stilltalkintv this morning that Dudzik will be a full-time reporter and fill-in anchor at the start. I would expect that she might eventually become a candidate to co-anchor the 5 p.m. news, anchor the 10 p.m. news on WNYO-TV, or do both.
Dudzik is a graduate of Syracuse University who also has worked in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Cincinnati and Great Falls, Montana.
If Dudzik eventually gets the 5 p.m. co-anchor slot, that would free another SU graduate, Melissa Holmes, from working a double shift. Holmes presently co-anchors at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.