Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Mark Lazarus & Fred Gaudelli Preview 2012 NFL Season

NBC Sports Group

NEW YORK – Aug. 29, 2012 – The NFL will open the regular season on NBC on Wednesday, Sept. 5, with NFL Kickoff 2012. The opening game of the 2012 season features the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants hosting their division rival, the Dallas Cowboys, from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Coverage begins on NBC at 7:30 p.m. ET.

On Sunday, Sept. 9, Peyton Manning makes his first regular-season appearance as the quarterback for the Denver Broncos when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first Sunday Night Football game of the season. Coverage starts with Football Night in America at 7 p.m. ET.
NBC Sports Group today previewed the season on a conference call with Sunday Night Football duo Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth along with Football Night in America studio analysts Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison, NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus and Sunday Night Football producer Fred Gaudelli.

For a complete replay of the call, dial 719-457-0820 and enter passcode: 4216816. Highlights of the call follow:

ON ASSEMBLING BIG AND DIVERSE AUDIENCES:

 

 

Lazarus: “Last year, we culminated with a record-setting Super Bowl, the most-viewed show of all time, and that doesn’t just happen by bringing in core football fans. We have attracted men, women and children. And that doesn’t happen without incredible preparation and skill of all the people in front of and behind the camera here at NBC Sports…We are inclusive of every demographic – men, women and children – and make the game acceptable for everyone, and I think that’s a big part of our ratings success.”

 

Michaels: “Mark Lazarus made a great point of how many women watch this show. We cut across all demographic lines. We have a big tent and invite everybody into it. This is not for football fans only. Of course, we’re going to do justice to them, no matter how closely or remotely you follow the sport, we’ll take care of that. But, we also like to tell the stories that will make even people who are very, very casual followers of football more interested in the game itself.”

 

Lazarus: “We work as a group all the time, and we will continue to do that and utilize Sunday Night Football to promote, not only NBC Sports Network, but other programming on NBC, whether its sports or otherwise – entertainment, News, The TODAY show, etc. We will continue to be, what I believe is, the best cross-promotional company in the business. We work very well across every division of the company and vice versa, they work with us to promote. You’ll see next week that the TODAY show and the news division will have a presence as part of what we’re doing when we launch on Wednesday. And I don’t think any other company – big media company – works as well together as we do. And we will continue that. You’ll see it done well and done appropriately, but we won’t overdo it. And I trust Fred’s (Gaudelli) instinct. He has the big filter for us on how we do that and what we do. It is important that we don’t offend the audience that we bring to ourselves each Sunday night.”

 

MICHAELS ON THE POWER OF THE NFL: “If the Cowboys play the Giants in a parking lot in March, it’s still going to be tremendous…Football is king right now. The NFL is hotter than any sport than any time in the history of this country. I can’t wait to get started.”

 

MICHAELS ON BROADCASTING THE NFL IN HIS 27TH YEAR: “I’ve loved sports since I was a child, and I’ve just become more appreciative of everything that’s happened. The way football’s evolved, the NFL in particular, it’s just so exciting. It never gets old. It never gets boring. This is not scripted television. You don’t know what the ending’s going to be. Every time I show up, I’m excited because of the drama; you just don’t know what you’re going to see. You’re going to go out there and maybe it’s an overtime game and it’s phenomenal. It might be a one-sided game and we’ll find some stories to connect the viewer with the game as the game evolves. It’s just wonderful. It’s reality television.

 

MICHAELS ON THE BUZZ IN THE STADIUM FOR AN SNF GAME: “After all these years I can still walk into that stadium and there’s a buzz as the crowd begins to file in. And I think the crowd knows that a good part of America is going to be watching, so there’s just an electricity in that stadium and it never gets old.”

 

LAZARUS ON THE NEW PRO FOOTBALL TALK ON NBC SPORTS NETWORK: “One note that you may not be aware of is that we’ll be extending our football coverage and ProFootballTalk to a daily show under the name Pro Football Talk, which will be on NBC Sports Network daily from 5-6 Mondays through Friday’s beginning next week.”

 

MICHAELS ON SNF BEING THE NO. 1 SHOW IN PRIMETIME: “Our goal the last couple of years – as we were close – was to see if Sunday Night Football could be the No. 1 show on television, which it did and we’re thrilled about that, proud of it. And it’s a new goal this year to retain that top spot, and we think we can do it because the NFL is king.”

 

ON REPLACEMENT OFFICIALS:

 

Collinsworth: “My concern is that the replacement referees get too cautious. In other words, the easiest way for them to disappear is to keep the flag in their pocket. I think that even the players are starting to get a little sense of that right now, that maybe they can push the envelope just a little bit more than what they’ve done in the past. And if that’s the case then maybe we get players that get a little more aggressive than we would’ve seen otherwise.”

 

Dungy: “The good thing about it for the coaches is now they’ve had four weeks to see it, and the players will know how these games have been called.”

 

COLLINSWORTH ON SAINTS OFF-SEASON INCIDENT: “A lot of people are interested to see exactly what’s going to happen with the New Orleans Saints. We saw last year that they lost Sean Payton for a period of time as a play caller, and Pete Carmichael stepped up and they sailed right along because they have arguably the best quarterback in the league right now.”

 

COLLINSWORTH ON THE POPULARITY OF THE NFL: “You can’t give people too much of it. Look at all the shows, look at all the websites. Look at all the radio shows. How much more people can take? As much as we want to give them they want more and more and more. I just think the interest is not waning at all no matter what happens.”

 

GAUDELLI ON THE SEASON: “The drama that surrounds the NFL is unsurpassed in any entertainment medium in America. We’re getting ready for Week 1, obviously with the Super Bowl champions hosting the Cowboys. But then on Sunday night, the guy that everyone’s been waiting for now since January of 2011, Peyton Manning, is back on the field in a new uniform, in a new city, and that really just kicks off a tremendous September for us with the stories that, before the game even starts, are going to dominate the headline.”

 

DUNGY ON PEYTON MANNING: “Peyton Manning, my old quarterback, changing venues and changing offenses. I’ve watched all three of his preseason games and it looks like he’s just gotten better every week. I’m seeing more and more stuff that’s looking familiar to me, so I think they’ve got a lot of the Indianapolis offense in place. I’m interested to see the impact he’s going to have on the rest of the team, if he’s going to make them a better team and I believe he will.”

 

HARRISON ON PATRIOTS OFFENSIVE LINE: “I know Tom Brady said he came out and said he wants to play forever but that won’t happen if they don’t improve this offensive line. You look at Brian Waters, Pro Bowl guard, he’s out of camp; Nate Solder, who’s a young guy they drafted in the first round, he continues to struggle; Sebastian Vollmer, he’s been injured, he’s had some issues. He looks really stiff and really doesn’t look up to form; and Dan Koppen, their starting Pro Bowl center, coming off a major injury, he doesn’t look the same; and if Brian Waters comes back, then Dan Koppen might not even be a starter, so they have a lot of issues right now. I think it comes down to this offensive line and keeping Tom Brady off the ground.”

 

GAUDELLI ON TAFOYA VIDEO TWEETS FOR SNF: “Michele (Tafoya) tweets from the sideline during the game, which I think is a tremendous use of her time. But as opposed to just tweeting it this year, we’ve figured out a way to wire her microphone to an iphone. So she’s going to have somebody with her that records her reports and puts them on twitter, and on our Sunday Night Football Extra platform. We think that’s going to make an impact with people who like that second screen experience.”

 

DUNGY ON COACHES WHO HAVE A GREAT QUARTERBACK: “I’ll say this, it’s a lot easier to be a great coach when you’ve got a quarterback that’s putting up 30 points every week for you. There’s some great defensive coaches that have done things, and great coaches in general, but think having a great quarterback really helps you as a coach.”

 

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SNF NO. 1 PRIMETIME PROGRAM ON TELEVISION: For the 2011-2012 primetime television season (September 19-April 16), Sunday Night Football ranked 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 was the No. 3 show among Women 18-34, and the No. 4 show among Women 18-49.

 

The critically acclaimed Football Night in America, which precedes Sunday Night Football, each week at 7 p.m. ET, was seen by an average of 8.9 million in 2011, its best season ever, and the most for a regularly-scheduled NFL studio show.

 

Sunday Night Football has won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Live Sports Series in each of the last four years.

 

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NBC will broadcast 19 primetime NFL games during the 2012 season, highlighted by: the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants hosting their division rivals the Dallas Cowboys on NFL Kickoff 2012; storied rivalries such as Steelers-Ravens, Eagles-Cowboys, and Giants-Eagles; two games featuring Peyton Manning with his new team the Denver Broncos – hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers on the first Sunday Night Football game of the season, and the New Orleans Saints in Week 8; and NBC’s first Thanksgiving night game, featuring New England Patriots at the New York Jets.

 

Highlights of the 2012 Sunday Night Football schedule:

 

 

  • 19 primetime games, including the opening Wednesday night game and a new Thanksgiving night game;

 

 

 

  • Every 2011 playoff team makes an appearance on Sunday Night Football; 16 of NBC’s 18 scheduled games involve at least one playoff team from last season; 10 of 18 include two playoff teams (Week 17 game TBD);

 

 

 

  • Three games each for Giants, Cowboys, Patriots, Steelers and Packers.

 

 

 

  • The defending Super Bowl Champion Giants host their division rivals the Cowboys in the Wednesday night NFL Kickoff 2012 on September 5;

 

 

 

  • The Jets host the Patriots on NBC’s first-ever Thanksgiving night game. NBC will broadcast a Thanksgiving night game each season through 2022 as part of the new NFL agreement;

 

 

 

  • Peyton Manning, in his first game as a member of the Denver Broncos, as they host Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the opening Sunday Night Football game of the season on September 9;

 

 

 

  • Three matchups among bitter NFC East rivals: Cowboys-Giants, Giants-Eagles, and Eagles-Cowboys;

 

 

 

  • Three playoff rematches, including a rematch of the AFC Championship Game when the Ravens host the Patriots in Week 3;

 

 

 

  • The first Sunday Night Football regular-season trip to Houston, as the Texans host the Packers in Week 6, and Cincinnati as the Bengals host the Steelers in Week 7;

 

 

NBC TO BROADCAST 19 NFL GAMES IN 2012: As part of the new agreement NBC signed with the NFL in December, 2011, NBC will now broadcast 19 regular-season games, including 17 regular season Sunday Night Football games, NFL Kickoff 2012, and the new Thanksgiving night game. NBC’s original Sunday Night Football agreement, which began in 2006, included 17 regular-season games. It was increased to 18 games in 2010.

 

 

 

 

2012 SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Wed. Sept. 5 NFL Kickoff Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
Sun. Sept. 9 Week 1 Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
Sun. Sept. 16 Week 2 Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers
Sun. Sept. 23 Week 3 New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens
Sun. Sept. 30 Week 4 New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Sun. Oct. 7 Week 5 San Diego Chargers at New Orleans Saints
Sun. Oct. 14 Week 6 Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans
Sun. Oct. 21 Week 7 Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
Sun. Oct. 28 Week 8 New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos
Sun. Nov. 4 Week 9 Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons
Sun. Nov. 11 Week 10 Houston Texans at Chicago Bears
*Sun. Nov. 18 Week 11 Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
**Thurs. Nov. 22 Week 12 New England Patriots at New York Jets
*Sun. Nov. 25 Week 12 Green Bay Packers at New York Giants
*Sun. Dec. 2 Week 13 Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
*Sun. Dec. 9 Week 14 Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
*Sun. Dec. 16 Week 15 San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots
*Sun. Dec. 23 Week 16 San Diego Chargers at New York Jets
*Sun. Dec. 30 Week 17 TBA

 

 

 

 

*Flex Week

 

** Thanksgiving Night Game

 

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–NBC SPORTS GROUP–

Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Mark Lazarus & Fred Gaudelli Preview 2012 NFL Season