After two weeks of hype and scrutiny, the kickoff for Super Bowl XLIV finally will arrive about 6:25 (ET), but there are plenty of ways to get even more of your fill about the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints until then.
NFL Network will supply fans with a record 8.5 hours of pregame coverage via its NFL GameDay Morning, beginning at 9 a.m. The pro football league's in-house service will have an 18-member on-air team in and around Sun Life Stadium and other locales in South Florida.
The coverage begins with NFL Films Steve Sabol's feature on the legendary coach Vince Lombardi, for whom the championship trophy is named, and his grandson, Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi. NFL Network will also provide its first update of the day on the status of Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney and his injured ankle.
Over the course of the day, there will Sabol's essay on "The Greatest Decade of Super Bowls" (10 a.m. hour); a segment exploring whether the Colts' Peyton Manning and the Saints' Drew Brees the best Super Bowl QB match-up ever? (11 a.m.); the top Super Bowls of all-time (6-10 at noon and 1-5 at 1 p.m.); how the Saints' success has impacted New Orleans (2 p.m.); a tale of the tape on the combatants and celebrity interviews (3 p.m. to 5 p.m.).
NFL Network's on-air talent: Fran Charles, Stacey Dales, Jamie Dukes, Rich Eisen, Alex Flanagan, Marshall Faulk, Scott Hanson, Kara Henderson, Michael Irvin, Jason La Canfora, Michaeil Lombardi, Steve Mariucci, Bob Papa. Joey Porter, Deion Sander, Warren Sapp, Joe Theismann and Rod Woodson.
ESPN will highlight its coverage with a four-hour Super Bowl edition of Sunday NFL Countdown from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Lummus Park on Miami Beach, with Chris Berman, Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter will be on the scene. They will be joined by analysts Trent Dilfer, Steve Young and Tedy Bruschi, while the Monday Night Football team of Mike Tirico, Jon and Ron Jaworski will occupy a set inside the stadium. Postgame coverage is slated to begin at 10 p.m. with NFL Primetime with Berman, Jackson and Young on the field at Sun Life Stadium, followed by a 90-minute SportsCenter.
For the third straight year, ESPN2 will simulcast Mike & Mike in the Morning, recapping the team's on-air interviews in South Florida from throughout the week. ESPN2's SportsNation will present a two-hour special at 10 a.m., encoring at noon.
Although it may be some time -- if ever -- before ESPN gets to televise the Super Bowl here in the States, ESPN International will air Super Bowl XLIV to more than 51 million households in 140 countries and territories throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Israel, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Rim, and much of Europe.
WGN America's The Bob & Tom Show will rebroadcast its exclusive interview with Peyton Manning at 1 p.m. (ET) In his conversation with radio hosts Bob Kevoian and Tom Griswold, Manning discusses his Peyback Foundation, his TV commercials and this football season. His brother, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, also joins the interview by phone.
As for the Super Bowl XLIV telecaster, CBS begins its big (pay) day with Road to the Super Bowl at noon. Game analyst Phil Simms will unveil his All-Iron Team at 1 p.m.
Then, The Super Bowl Today kicks off at 2 p.m., leading viewers into The Kickoff Show at 6 p.m., as the countdown to the Big Game begins in earnest.
With what could be a high-scoring matchup and a good swath of the East Coast draped in the aftermath of a blizzard yesterday, could Super Bowl XLIV surpass the 98.7 million average for last year's game -- NBC covered Pittsburgh's last-second triumph over the Arizona Cardinals -- and become the most-watched NFL championship game ever? Could it top the 100 million viewer mark?
If so, CBS will own the top two telecasts in U.S. history -- the M*A*S*H finale on Feb. 28, 1983 drew 106 million. The Nielsen tally will come tomorrow.
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