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Behind the Scenes with FOX’s NFL crew: Kevin Burkhardt’s everlasting positivity


By Richie Zyontz
FOX NFL Lead Producer

Editor’s Note: Richie Zyontz has been an NFL producer for FOX since 1994 and the lead producer for the final 20 seasons. He has greater than 40 years of expertise protecting the league and has produced six Super Bowls. Throughout the 2022 NFL season, he’ll present an inside look as FOX’s new No. 1 NFL staff makes its journey towards Super Bowl LVII.

It’s all the time sunny with Kevin Burkhardt. That sunshine permeates our total crew and makes my job as producer a lot simpler. When there’s constructive power flowing from the highest — and with Burkhardt and Greg Olsen it is extra like a flood — the working environment is nice and productive. 

If the analysts are the driving forces in sports activities broadcasts, the play-by-play announcers are the conscience. They set the tone and supply the context. Each sport has its personal distinctive rhythms, ebbs and flows. Burkhardt navigates all of them with a deft contact and an unflappable disposition. Our crew was blessed for twenty years with Joe Buck on the helm. To use a baseball time period, Joe is a five-tool participant who’s on my Mount Rushmore of sports activities broadcasters.

At some time limit and with many large video games to name in his future, Burkhardt is on his method to that pantheon.


Chemistry was a daunting phrase for me in highschool after I did not know an atomic quantity from a jersey quantity. The ensuing D on my report card made me shudder for years on the time period. Now it is a blessing. Chemistry fuels a manufacturing staff at each stage. It begins within the sales space and cannot be faked. Announcers can examine each field, but when positioned subsequent to the mistaken individual they’ll by no means attain their potential.

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Careers have been derailed due to unhealthy pairings.  John Madden was all the time fast to quote Pat Summerall for a lot of his success.

Olsen and Burkhardt have chemistry. That consolation is predicated on historical past, friendship and respect. Greg is aware of the soccer a part of the equation however depends on Kevin’s expertise for the TV portion. When Olsen was a New Jersey highschool soccer standout, KB known as his video games on native tv. In just a few weeks they’ll share a sales space calling the Super Bowl to over 100 million individuals.

Who’s that voice in my ear?

Another key relationship is between the play-by-play caller and producer.

Trust is the glue. And belief must be earned by the producer. Fortunately, Kevin and I hit it off shortly. All the training and expertise on this planet would not assure chemistry. But if you will get alongside together with your colleagues, you’ve got bought an opportunity.

We are in fixed communication in the course of the sport, steering the published and balancing the sport motion with probably the most compelling storylines.

An instance of dialogue throughout business break :

Zyontz: Hey, KB — let’s come out of break with a taped rejoin of Brady and Mike Evans. That units up a dialog for you guys to speak about their struggles within the subsequent section. 

The suggestion may also emanate from the sales space:

Burkhardt: Z — out of break, are you able to guys get me some photographs of Dallas’ offensive line? I feel Greg and I want to debate all their accidents.

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The backwards and forwards is all the time free-flowing and fluid, adjusting to sport conditions.

Although all of us have notes and speaking factors getting into, the dwell motion on the sector dictates our path. The course of works way more easily when the producer and sales space are on the identical web page. In that regard, I really feel very lucky.

Uncomfortable storyline

Cowboys and Commanders. It sort of rolls off your tongue, would not it? 

While Dallas had playoff place to play for in Week 18, Washington was ending out one other disappointing season.  With the postseason looming , the emphasis of the published was two-fold: add context to what went mistaken for the Commanders and preview the Cowboys’ prospects within the weeks forward.

One twist to that plot. Greg Olsen performed for Washington head coach Ron Rivera for eight years in Carolina. They are good buddies. Rivera is a extremely revered determine however definitely had some teaching and judgment missteps this season. 

How do you discuss a good friend, warts and all? It’s a fragile matter.

In our manufacturing assembly on Saturday evening, Burkhardt gently reminded Olsen to watch out to not make excuses for his former coach. And he did not. 

As Kevin and Greg defined all through the telecast, Washington’s issues return 30 years and stem from by no means discovering a franchise quarterback. With all of the darkish clouds surrounding their franchise, it appeared the Commanders have been heading towards a disappointing end to a bleak season.

Surprise, shock.

The great thing about sports activities is you simply by no means know.  Who anticipated Washington rookie quarterback Sam Howell to outplay Dallas counterpart Dak Prescott? How many individuals anticipated Dallas to put a collective egg one week previous to the playoffs?

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Where had the Commanders been hiding all of the grit and power they displayed within the 26-6 throttling of their archrivals?

This sloppily paced and performed sport may have challenged even the sunniest of broadcasters. But Kevin did not get dragged down by a nasty sport. That’s no simple job.

Now we head to Minneapolis, the place our season started, for a Wild Card matchup on Sunday between the Vikings and the upstart New York Giants. The second season begins.

Can’t wait!

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