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Aug 24 / King Kaufman

“NBC Sunday Night Football” boss Gaudelli talks about how it’s done

This week’s SI Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch is worth a listen if you’re interested in how one of the biggest sports broadcasts in the U.S. comes together.

The guest is “NBC Sunday Night Football” coordinating producer Fred Gaudelli, who describes his role, in “football vernacular,” as being the head coach, with director Drew Esocoff as the quarterback. Gaudelli says he has about a dozen assistant “coaches” who are in charge of various things, such as graphics, editing or social media.

During the week, we set out a plan in all those areas in how we’re going to cover the game. And then when the game begins, my main job is to talk with Al and Cris and Michelle, and direct the editorial view of the game, while Drew is in there, like the quarterback, executing every play, every second of the game.

Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, the booth announcers, are also sort of like quarterbacks, Gaudelli says, because “it’s a real dance between who’s leading the telecast.” For the most part, he says, the announcers take the lead, but they and Gaudelli will discuss options during the commercials, with sideline reporter Michelle Tafoya sometimes chiming in. The football metaphor isn’t perfect.

Deitsch mentions at the end of the podcast that he found Gaudelli’s description of his week most interesting, as did I. Gaudelli patiently walks us through the week, day by day, describing the team’s preparation for the Sunday night game.

Also interesting: Gaudelli’s take on what went wrong when Dennis Miller was in the booth. Gaudelli didn’t hire Miller, but he has ideas about how it would go if he could try that gambit a second time, and speculates about the odds of an oddball hire like that happening again.