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Behind the Scenes with FOX’s NFL crew: What’s totally different in regards to the playoffs?


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.

One small step for the calendar, one big step for NFL groups and their broadcast networks. The playoffs have arrived and the true enjoyable started with a Wild Card matchup between the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings.

Many elements of preparation stay the identical for manufacturing crews. There are rosters to check, video to look at, articles to learn, coaches and gamers to fulfill with. Business as normal.

So what actually adjustments when protecting a postseason recreation?

Is there a discernible distinction between how a playoff recreation is televised in comparison with one within the common season?

The quick reply: sort of. There are sometimes extra cameras, leading to extra replay angles. Visually, it ought to be noticeable if the producer and director do their jobs nicely. And better of all, we not want to indicate the NFC playoff image graphic. The solely groups In the Hunt are those who have not misplaced playoff video games! The discipline is about.

Another tweak revolves round commentary. The recreation reigns supreme. Stories that have been related throughout the common season take a backseat to documenting the motion on the sphere. Don’t get me incorrect — the chemistry within the broadcast sales space nonetheless issues. But the forwards and backwards ought to be extra centered and game-driven with much less idle banter. The tenet ought to be “less is more.”

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Here’s the conundrum, and it rang true after listening to Giants head coach Brian Daboll throughout our video chat. His message to his gamers this week was “you gotta be you” — the logic being that he cannot basically change gamers simply because they’re concerned in a playoff recreation. What was crucial to Daboll was that his gamers preserve focus and management their feelings.

Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen throughout Sunday’s broadcast of the Giants-Vikings recreation.

I believe this sentiment additionally applies to our strategy. Broadcast groups set up a rhythm and a character throughout the course of an 18-week common season. Why change now? Everyone understands the magnitude of protecting post-season video games

With that in thoughts, our manufacturing assembly started with that mild reminder. The final thing we might need could be for Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen to assume a unique technique was instantly required.  They have been terrific all season, calling good video games and dangerous with equal focus and power.

This was Greg’s first playoff telecast. His pure enthusiasm jumps by way of the display and his capacity to speak and clarify the sport in cogent phrases has been eye-opening. He was a really achieved participant; a three-time Pro Bowler who performed in over 200 complete video games, amongst them a Super Bowl. But his TV profession remains to be in its embryonic stage. 

So the identical reminders utilized to not solely Greg, however all the crew: be affected person, do not overtalk, let the images inform the story, enable the viewers to benefit from the recreation.

If there have been one side of a soccer recreation throughout which a broadcast crew may get tripped up, it might be the moment recognition and utility of the principles. Believe me, I’ve been there. The edict from the bosses at each community was to know the principles. That’s simpler mentioned than accomplished, particularly as the sport turned quicker and extra sophisticated.

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At each summertime community seminar, the NFL’s head of officiating spent an hour going by way of the principles for a roomful of announcers, producers and administrators. It was largely a dry presentation with a brief movie extra befitting a hostage video than a gaggle of TV folks.

That all modified when Mike Pereira took over because the czar of officiating in 2001. His visits to our yearly assembly turned an occasion. Just a little extra expert within the performative arts of discussing the principles than his predecessors, Mike introduced life to a dry subject. These expertise led to a call that modified the way in which sports activities are lined on TV. So impressed was our boss, David Hill, with Pereira’s yearly appearances that he supplied him an on-air job in 2010.  No longer would announcers hem and haw their manner by way of controversial conditions. We had an skilled in place — and that concept was quickly copied by each NFL broadcast accomplice. Along with the fixed rating and clock on the display, the addition of a guidelines skilled is arguably probably the most vital FOX Sports TV innovation.

But there’s just one Pereira.

For the final six years, Mike has traveled with the crew on all our nationally televised video games. Along along with his trusty assistant, former NFL replay official Roger Ruth, Mike is positioned in a entrance nook of our broadcast sales space, inside eyeshot and earshot of Greg and Kevin. It’s the earshot half that’s groundbreaking. Through some nifty work by our audio employees, Pereira has the power to talk into their headsets instantly. Sometimes it is simply to verify what they’ve mentioned relating to a play or a name, typically to supply a suggestion.

When deemed vital, Kevin can carry him into the dialogue as if we had a three-man sales space. 

Mike is sincere and direct. He would not maintain again from criticizing the sport officers. And he additionally would not hesitate to disagree along with his broadcast companions. Several occasions yesterday, Pereira and Olsen had differing opinions on penalty calls and non-calls.

Disagreement is sweet — it makes for a greater telecast.

Minnesota is likely one of the loudest venues within the league and the Viking followers once more virtually blew the roof off the place. But I used to be actually pleased with Kevin and Greg for not attempting to combat the noise. Announcers are paid to speak, however usually the best components of a broadcast contain no commentary in any respect.

I discovered myself praising them all through the sport for doing and saying nothing.

It appears odd but it surely is not. Silence is commonly golden .

Monday evening, our crew will sit again and take heed to our outdated friends Joe and Troy name the Dallas-Tampa recreation. The winner will head out to play the 49ers subsequent Sunday, and we will probably be there to cowl it.

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