If you want to hear Terry Bradshaw speak passionately on a subject, ask him which of his four Super Bowl titles was most memorable for him.
"The very first one – Super Bowl IX, absolutely," the Football Hall of Famer and current Fox Sports analyst says of the 1975 NFL championship game won by his Pittsburgh Steelers over the Minnesota Vikings. "... At that point in your career you’re still uncertain about who you are and (questioning) ‘Am I any good?’ And you win that and all of a sudden everything changes. You’re now part of that fraternity of NFL-winning quarterbacks. You are a Super Bowl champion. Your team, the city, the ownership – there’s so much pride, you’re so proud of yourself. You feel good about yourself. That’s a nice feeling because we don’t get that that often. It was euphoric.
"It changes you," he continues. "It helps you grow up and ... you now belong, permanently."
Come Sunday, one team’s players will get to experience what Bradshaw did 42 years ago when the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots clash at Houston’s NRG Stadium in Super Bowl LI. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will call the action on the field for Fox with Erin Andrews and Chris Myers reporting from the sidelines, and Bradshaw, Curt Menefee, Howie Long, Michael Strahan and Jimmy Johnson providing analysis in the studio.
At halftime, Lady Gaga will perform, though at this writing it was uncertain from where. Reports indicated she wanted to perform from the roof of NRG Stadium, which would make for a logistical puzzle for technicians and an insurance nightmare for bureaucrats. There were even rumors of doing the stunt as a pre-taped commercial leading up to the game but nothing concrete had been decided.
Speaking of commercials, the rate for a 30-second spot during Super Bowl LI is expected to top $5 million. If that sounds outrageous, there would be a number of companies and entities that would disagree with you, among them Kia, Snickers, Skittles, Wix and Avocados from Mexico, all of which have bought ad time. If the game is a dud, these usually serve as the highlight of the evening.
As has been the case with past NFL title games, there will also be new technological tweaks to the broadcast. This year, Fox is featuring an enhancement it calls "Be the Player," which allows viewers to follow a play from the perspective of any player on the field — without the benefit of a helmet cam.
"They’re actually better than helmet cams," explains Fox Sports President and COO Eric Shanks, "because what we’ve done is we’re collecting so much data on each play with this array of cameras that we’re installing with our partners at Intel that we don’t even need cameras in the helmet anymore. And it’s not computer generated. This is the actual play in video format as if there was a camera in their helmet that we’re able to fly inside of any player’s helmet to see what they’re seeing at the release of the ball, when they’re catching a punt, anything. It’s pretty spectacular."