On Super Bowl Sunday, it's easy to get distracted from the game itself. Don't feel bad about that; even Al Michaels, the play-by-play man, will be distracted by Katy Perry. Here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
As the Super Bowl
nears, we might stumble into a false assumption.
assume, sportscasters will avoid distractions. They'll use spare
moments to digest facts.
Or not. “The
halftime shows are so big and entertaining,” Al Michaels said. “I
remember the Bruce Springsteen one” on NBC in 2009.
And this year,
especially, he'll forget about football for 12 minutes: It will be
Katy Perry at halftime.
Flash back to the
summer of 2011, when Cris Collinsworth was talking about life in the
NBC broadcast booth. “The thing that I look forward to, most of
all, is hearing Al Michaels singing a Katy Perry song,” he said. “I
think that is the true highlight of the entire season.”
says he's been a Perry fan from the first moment he heard her. “I
guess I was ahead of my time; I was ahead with Taylor Swift, too.”
Now others can catch
up. Perry – with help from Lenny Kravitz and maybe others – does
Such things are
important for supersized ratings. “The vast majority of the
audience is not going to be hard-core (football) fans,” said
producer Fred Gaudelli.
things matter. There's Perry ... And Idina Menzel with the National
Anthem ... And John Legend with “America the Beautiful” ... And
Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski at the tailgate party, interviewing
stars and catching more music. There's Savannah Guthrie interviewing
President Obama, Jimmy Fallon doing comedy; after the game, there's
“The Black List” and more Fallon.
And yes, there's
This match has
classic quarterbacks (Seattle's scrambling Russell Wilson, New
England's pocket-passer Tom Brady), a top runner (Seattle's Mashawn
Lynch) and more. It has the sportscasters' attention.
The guys doing NBC's
pre-game show have a combined seven Super Bowl victories – two each
for Tony Dungy (a coach), Hines Ward (a receiver) and Rodney Harrison
(a safety), plus one for John Harbaugh, a current coach and guest
But what about the
guys in the broadcast booth at game time?
Collinsworth was in
two Super Bowls, combining for seven catches, 147 yards, a fumble and
no wins. In the 1989 game, on the final play of Collinsworth's
career, Boomer Esiason lofted a desperation pass toward him; it was
broken up and the Bengals lost to the 49ers, 20-16.
And Michaels? He did
the first Super Bowl, he said – but as a spectator. “I was there
with my brother ....We had great seats, because there were about
35,000 empty” ones.
That was 1967 in the
Los Angeles Coliseum, which could hold close to 100,000 people; the
game drew 61,946. It would be two more years before the “Super
Bowl” nickname began ... and many more before this became a
Michaels was 22 when
he saw that first game. This year's game will be his ninth as
play-by-play man, plus one time doing a pre-game show.
He'll never come
close to the game's superfans. Three men have seen every Super Bowl;
this will be their 49th and they'll be featured in the
Last year, Michaels
recalled, he didn't even finish the game. He had flown to Russia to
prepare for the Winter Olympics. “About a hundred of us gathered in
the hotel lounge in Sochi with, I believe, one cocktail waitress. Not
enough .... We were all so exhausted, by halftime, we all went to
We'll never know
what would have happened if there were more waitresses. Maybe he
would have stayed; maybe he would have done some Katy karaoke. This
year, Perry can do that herself.
-- Super Bowl, NBC:
pre-game show, noon ET Sunday; kick-off, 6:30 p.m.; Katy Perry,
-- “The Black
List” follows at about 10:30 p.m. ET; Jimmy Fallon has “Tonight”
at about midnight.