SAINTS MARCH INTO DALLAS FOR 'NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL' BATTLE OF FIRST PLACE TEAMS
NBC's Madden on Reggie Bush: "He's the guy that as a kid in tag was never it."
NBC's Gaudelli on Saints-Cowboys: "A poster game for what 'flex' scheduling is all about."
NEW YORK � December 7, 2006 � Tony Romo and the NFC East leading Dallas Cowboys (8-4) host the high-flying New Orleans Saints (8-4) on "NBC Sunday Night Football," Sunday at 8:15 p.m. ET, presented in high definition. NBC's coverage kicks off at 7 p.m. ET with the "Football Night in America" studio show, a complete recap of the top stories in the NFL, with highlights, analysis and reports from around the league.
Al Michaels (play-by-play), John Madden (analyst) and Andrea Kremer (sideline reporter) will call all the action. Bob Costas (host) and Cris Collinsworth (co-host), analysts Sterling Sharpe and Jerome "The Bus" Bettis, and reporter Peter King of Sports Illustrated, comprise the "Football Night in America" studio team.
GAUDELLI ON SAINTS AS PERFECT EXAMPLE OF FLEX:
"After years and years and years of doing primetime football and championing a flexible schedule, this week's game between the Saints and Dallas is exactly what we've been dreaming about, at least Al and I and John have, for the last many, many years, where you have a team that no one ever contemplated back in April would be playing for a very high seed in the NFC, the New Orleans Saints playing up against the team that everybody loves to see on national TV, the Dallas Cowboys. If you ever look at a poster game for what flex scheduling is all about, we have it this weekend with the Saints playing their way on having a fantastic season and really capturing the hearts of America with all that city's been through, what that team has been through with Katrina, now playing against America's team with the star of the year in Tony Romo, so we're excited to be doing this game."
MICHAELS ON SAINTS-COWBOYS AS FLEX SELECTION:
"Without question this is the game that most people want to see. I know it has a great deal of buzz and when you mention New Orleans against Dallas to people, everybody gets pretty excited about it. It's [flex] working out. I think this was something that we had hoped would be in place a number of years ago and it wasn't. It's finally here and I think this is really a primary example of the type of thing that can happen."
MADDEN ON SAINTS-COWBOYS:
"New Orleans started off as a feel good story. They're playing in the 'dome again, they have a new coach, Sean Payton, they have Reggie Bush, and they won that first game. It's nice New Orleans is back and they're winning. So they've kind of been a feel good story all year but I look at this game against the Dallas Cowboys, and the New Orleans Saints could go from a feel good team to a legitimate contender in the NFC. They could because right now if you say who is the best team in the NFC, I would think the consensus would be the Dallas Cowboys. Now say that the Saints were to beat the Cowboys, then you have to say who is the consensus best team in the NFC and the New Orleans Saints could be that team."
MICHAELS ON SAINTS OR COWBOYS AS AMERICA'S TEAM:
"Unfortunately it took one of the great disasters in American history for the Saints to develop a different kind of following. Obviously people are hopeful that everything gets back at some point to some form of normalcy and the Saints are part of the process. People keep an on eye on the Saints and I think the America's team thing varies from year to year. I know the Cowboys got that appellation a couple years ago, I think it was Tex Schram who kind of put it into the lexicon. A lot of people that don't like the Cowboys have mocked it and right now, the Saints are a team that people look at and unless you have a distinct rooting interest in the game, I think people would love to see New Orleans do well."
MADDEN COMPARING COWBOYS TO ALI:
"Not everybody that watches them is a Dallas Cowboys fan that wants to see them win. It's the whole Muhammad Ali thing. There were a lot of people who wanted to see him win and there were a lot of people who wanted to see him lose and then you take them and you add them all together and there's a lot of people watching. I think it's the same thing with the Cowboys. They could be one of the most loved teams in the NFL and they could be one of the most hated teams in the NFL. But either way, you want to see it, because if they're loved you want to see them win but if they're hated, you'd like to see them beaten."
MADDEN ON COWBOYS:
"I think they always have something interesting going on. You talk about the NFL and one of the first questions is, what's going on in Dallas? What's going on with Jerry Jones down there? What's Bill Parcells doing? What's TO doing? I mean those things. And we kind of mock them and they're not all great, but they're going to get the headlines. They're always there. They're there in the preseason, they're there in the regular season, and then Tony Romo steps in to it. They're just one of those teams that are interesting. I really think that they are America's team. I know this. When we do a game with the Cowboys when they're on the road, there are more people, more fans in the lobby of their hotel than any other team in the NFL. That's been true for 25 years."
GAUDELLI COMPARING COWBOYS TO SINATRA OR ELVIS:
"I kind of look at them like Sinatra or Elvis, timeless. Whether you're born in the '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, or '90s, and you're a fan of music, you'll know those two names and you will always take a glance at least if you hear those two names. I think the same with the Cowboys that for the fringe fan, for the person who doesn't follow the NFL every day or is not totally involved with the NFL, they hear Dallas Cowboys and that makes them take a glance. When you see those big ratings for that team, I think that's what it is because not only are you getting all the football fans who love them or hate them but you're getting the people who really are fans because they are that kind of team like a Frank Sinatra or an Elvis Presley was."
MICHAELS ON COWBOYS AS AMERICA'S TEAM:
"It probably goes back to the formation of the franchise. The fact that they had some success; Tom Landry was a big factor there; you look at the players that they had through the years, going back to Roger Staubach and people like that. Tex Schram dubbing it America's team. The Cowboys spending a lot of time on second games with doubleheaders in the formative years. I think a lot of it has to do with the culture of the country. Cowboys. The American cowboy is kind of an iconic figure so I mean the team is named perfectly. It's Texas. They've always been exciting. I'm probably getting far afield here but you put all of these things together and you have a great run in the '90s and a lot of the guys that have been to the Hall of Fame and it just rings. It's like the New York Yankees. It rings. The Boston Celtics. Not to the extent as it did in the past, but I look at these franchises in sports like the Montreal Canadiens, like Notre Dame in football. I put Dallas in that realm. People just when they hear Dallas they just perk up a little bit."
GAUDELLI ON FLEX:
"It makes a huge difference because knowing what our game would have been this week and knowing what it is right now, you might be looking at three or four ratings points difference. It goes back to what happened on Monday Night Football in the past and what will happen to them again this year is that you get these games that really don't have any playoff implications or have national appeal, and you're ratings begin to suffer. You can just look at the history of Monday Night, probably in the last ten years, and you can see what happened, when in December there was a matchup between teams that didn't have any national appeal, or worse, didn't really have any playoff implications."
MADDEN ON PARCELLS' GUTSY MOVE TO ROMO:
"Bill Parcells has made a couple gutsy moves this year that you have to if you're going to be a championship team. It's easy to stand pat and it's tough to make a decision. It's tough to make a move, change your quarterback. He did that with Tony Romo and that paid off for him. And then you look at just last week. He does it with his kicker Martin Gramatica. Those were a couple of big moves that Bill Parcells made to put this Cowboys team in a lot better position than it would have been."
MADDEN ON REGGIE BUSH:
"I think Reggie Bush is just fun to watch. He's the guy that as a kid in tag was never it. He reminds me a lot, and I'm not saying he's Barry Sanders, but he does the same kinds of things that Barry Sanders does. He runs with the ball in the open field and he makes a move and guys just whiff."
MICHAELS ON BUSH:
"People obviously were keeping a close eye on him right from the outset, even on draft day when everybody was pretty shocked that he wasn't picked by the Texans. I think Sean Payton has done a tremendous job working him in and people keep forgetting, if they don't follow the team that closely, that they've got a pretty good running back in Deuce McAlister. It's almost like with a young quarterback that gets brought along except the quarterback normally just stands with the clipboard on the sideline. The running back can be utilized the way Payton's doing it, which I think is terrific. Get him in there to catch the ball a lot as has been the case. His statistics wouldn't be necessarily that impressive but he's the kind of guy as we all know who on any given weekend can make a highlight tape."
NBC "FLEXES" INTO BIGGEST GAME OF THE WEEK:
Last week, the NFL announced the Cowboys-Saints game as the "Flex" selection for "NBC Sunday Night Football." The NFL this season is implementing for the first time in its history a primetime "flexible scheduling" element on Sundays in Weeks 10-15 and in Week 17 to ensure quality matchups with playoff implications in those weeks and give surprise teams a chance to play their way onto Sunday Night. The Saints certainly fit that criteria as one of the surprise teams in the NFL, leading the NFC South by two games in their return to New Orleans after a year's absence in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Off-season acquisition Drew Brees, coming off major shoulder surgery, has a chance to become only the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 5,000 yards. Bush is coming off a breakout performance against the San Francisco 49ers, scoring four touchdowns in the victory.
The Cowboys have rebounded from a slow start and now lead the NFC East by two games. Romo has led the resurgence posting a 5-1 record since earning the starting quarterback job. Both the Cowboys and Saints are seeking the upper-hand in the battle for the second seed in the NFC.
"FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA" STUDIO
The "Football Night in America" studio, just down the hall from the famed Studio 8H, home of "Saturday Night Live," was built in the former studio home of first the Philco Television Playhouse (1948-1955) and later for game shows Concentration (1958-1973) and Jeopardy (1964-1975), and talk shows Donahue (1984-1996) and The Rosie O'Donnell Show (1996-2002), and shares the "SNL" control room for the football season. The "Football Night" set was designed and built by Jeremy Conway, the former set designer for "Sex in the City." Two 103" high definition Panasonic plasma screen televisions � roughly the size of a queen-size mattress � are two of the set innovations.
"NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL"
"NBC Sunday Night Football," the premier primetime game of the week, is preceded by the "Football Night in America" studio show, which kicks off NBC's regular season coverage each Sunday at 7 p.m. The unprecedented six-year NFL deal includes innovative flexible scheduling and continues through the 2011 season with Super Bowls in 2009 and 2012. NBC has assembled the most honored broadcast team ever: Joining Al Michaels, the commentator called "TV's best play-by-play announcer" by the Associated Press, and John Madden, the most honored NFL broadcaster of all time with 15 Emmy Awards, are Bob Costas, the most honored studio host of all time with 19 Emmy Awards, who will host NBC's "Football Night in America" studio show alongside co-host Cris Collinsworth, the most honored studio analyst in history with six Emmy Awards; and analysts Sterling Sharpe, a five-time Pro Bowler and Jerome Bettis, one of the most popular players in recent NFL history. "NBC Sunday Night Football" coverage also includes sideline and feature reporter Andrea Kremer, whom the Los Angeles Times has called "the best TV interviewer in the business of covering the NFL." Peter King, who covers the NFL for Sports Illustrated and is considered one of the country's foremost NFL reporters, serves as a reporter for the "Football Night in America" studio show.
NBC'S REMAINING 2006 NFL SCHEDULE
(Sunday coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET with "Football Night in America" studio show)
Sunday, Dec. 10 � New Orleans at Dallas*
Sunday, Dec. 17 � Kansas City at San Diego*
*Flexible Scheduling Weeks 10-15
Monday, Dec. 25 (Christmas Day) � Philadelphia at Dallas
Flexible Scheduling Week 17